By: Brenden Boudreau
Pro-gun Kentuckians are finally seeing the fruits of their labor with the Bluegrass State’s Constitutional Carry law officially taking effect on Thursday, June 27th. South Dakota’s law will take effect next week on July 1st.
Still on tap to have their law take effect is Oklahoma, where gun owners will have to wait until this fall to have their Constitutional rights legally acknowledged.
These three states all joined the growing ranks of Constitutional Carry states earlier this year. Successful grassroots campaigns were launched and led in large part by National Association for Gun Rights members and supporters who dedicated their efforts to keeping the pressure on their elected officials until this historic legislation was signed by their respective governors.
There are now a total of 15 Constitutional Carry states, with more, we hope, joining the list in the not-too-distant future.
Constitutional Carry on the Move in Ohio
Just this week, pro-gun Ohioans helped make history in the Buckeye State after Constitutional Carry House Bill 178 advanced out of the House Federalism Committee, the farthest a Constitutional Carry bill has gone in Ohio.
In addition to removing the requirement to have a permit to carry a concealed handgun in Ohio, this bill also repeals a requirement for gun owners to notify a police officer that they have a gun in their vehicle in an unrelated traffic stop.
These “duty to inform” laws have been found to be dangerous not only for gun owners, but also for law enforcement officers, because it creates unnecessary tension between the parties. Such a situation, in turn, can trip-up otherwise law-abiding gun owners, who unknowingly run afoul of the law.
HB 178, sponsored by State Reps. Ron Hood (R-HD 78) and Tom Brinkman (R- HD 27), is now headed to the House Rules and Reference Committee, where it is expected to be re-referred to the House Criminal Justice Committee, at the behest of the Speaker of the House Larry Householder.
This is bad news for gun owners in Ohio, however, as Speaker Householder has all but signaled his unwillingness to bring Constitutional Carry to the House floor for an up or down vote. This, in addition to Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine’s support for dangerous “red flag” laws, means that pro-gun Ohioans have their work cut out for them if Constitutional Carry is going to become a reality in this session of the Ohio General Assembly.
Constitutional Carry Re-Introduced in Michigan House
State Rep. Steve Johnson (R-HD 72) re-introduced Constitutional Carry legislation just last week with a bill that is an updated version that then-State Rep. Gary Glenn (R-HD 98) worked with Great Lakes Gun Rights to introduce back in 2017.
The five-bill package, HB 4770-4774, is originally sponsored by State Reps. Steve Johnson (R-HD 72), Matt Maddock (R-HD 44), Michele Hoitenga (R-HD 102), John Reilly (R-HD 46), and Pamela Hornberger (R-HD 32).
In addition to the original five sponsors, the bill has 11 co-sponsors, including one Democrat State Representative.
Great Lakes Gun Rights is working with the bill sponsors to advance Constitutional Carry through the legislative process, despite having an anti-gun Democrat governor, to keep the pressure on lawmakers to stand up for the Second Amendment and to expose anti-gun politicians by obtaining recorded votes on the House and Senate floors.
In addition to repealing the requirement to obtain a permit before carrying a concealed pistol in the state of Michigan, this bill would also legalize carrying a loaded pistol in a vehicle, a practice that is currently illegal in Michigan without a Concealed Pistol License (CPL), but is legal (in some form) in more than half the country.
To ensure that there are no special rights granted to CPL holders over those carrying under the proposed Constitutional Carry law, HB 4770-4774 also eliminates a swath of pistol-free zones where CPL holders can already carry, since they are exempt from the prohibition to carrying in these zones under state law.
The open carry of a pistol is legal in Michigan without a permit, but the penalty for carrying concealed in Michigan without a CPL is punishable with a five-year felony, one of the harshest penalties for carrying without a permit in the nation – even worse than California!
The CPL stays intact for the purposes of interstate reciprocity.
The five-bill package is awaiting a hearing in the House Military, Veterans Affairs and Homeland Security Committee, chaired by State Rep. Beau LaFave (R-HD108), who is a co-sponsor of the legislation.
Legality of Constitutional Carry Still Ambiguous in Arkansas
Years after seemingly accidentally passing Constitutional Carry back in 2013, pro-gun Arkansas residents are once again left scratching their heads as to whether it is legal to carry a concealed handgun without a permit.
This ambiguity, as well as the lack of clear legislative intent and subsequent interpretations by attorney generals and law enforcement officials, is the reason the National Association for Gun Rights has never considered Arkansas a real Constitutional Carry state, while many other groups have wrongly considered it as such.
The latest reason the Arkansas Legislature needs to pass a Constitutional Carry law intentionally comes in the wake of a hearing last week by the Arkansas Legislative Council’s subcommittee on Game and Fish/State Police.
During that hearing, Arkansas State Police Colonel Bill Bryant indicated that it is his belief that in Arkansas “…you are allowed to carry a weapon, but as far as concealed, the statute says you need a CHCL [Concealed Handgun Carry License].”
Ambiguity in Arkansas’ gun laws is bound to land at least one otherwise law-abiding citizens in legal trouble, which is why it is incumbent on the Arkansas Legislature and Gov. Asa Hutchinson to take the lead on this issue and pass Constitutional Carry into law during the next regular session of the State Legislature.
Brenden Boudreau is the Director of Field Operations for the National Association for Gun Rights, writing from Michigan. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org. Disclosure: In addition to his work with the National Association for Gun Rights, the author is also Executive Director of Great Lakes Gun Rights.