By: Brenden Boudreau

In the midst of all of the bad news caused by the coronavirus pandemic, there was a bright spot out of Oklahoma when an armed citizen stopped an attempted mass shooting in Tulsa (as reported here at Gunpowder Magazine last week).

This latest incident of a law-abiding citizen stopping a would-be assassin in her tracks is yet more evidence that more guns in the hands of law-abiding citizens deter and prevent crime.

John Lott, author of the book “More Guns, Less Crime” and founder of the Crime Prevention Research Center, has well-documented evidence over the last few decades showing that the loosening of restrictions on the right to keep and bear arms has led to lower crime rates and that the passage of gun control more often correlates with higher rates of crime.

There are currently 15 states with some form of Constitutional Carry law on the books, with nearly a dozen other state legislatures considering its passage over the last two years.

In fact, Oklahoma, along with South Dakota and Kentucky, became a Constitutional Carry state in 2019.

Lott writes in the third edition of “More Guns, Less Crime” that, “…[W]hen different states passed right-to-carry laws during the twenty years we studied, the number of multiple-victim public shootings declined by a whopping 67 percent.”

Just last year, the three safest states, according to the FBI’s Public Safety Rankings, were Maine, Vermont, and New Hampshire. All are Constitutional Carry states where anyone who can legally possess a handgun can carry it openly or concealed without a permit.

Constitutional Carry laws are the logical next step for the right-to-carry movement after decades of pushing for greater freedom when it comes to exercising the Second Amendment.

As Dr. Lott shows in his research, it logically follows that removing the requirement to have a permit to carry in the first place would be a positive impact on the deterrence of crime.

After all, by definition, criminals do not abide by laws, hence why they are called criminals and law breakers. Rather, gun control laws are wrong-headed attempts to control the behaviors of people who have no intent of following them. Instead, gun control only disarms those who follow the law, assuring criminals that their victims are less likely to be armed and able to fight back.

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State lawmakers would do well to remove the requirement to have a permit to carry a handgun, not only because it would allow citizens to be their own first line of defense, but because it would also end the practice of treating gun owners like criminals for simply practicing a fundamental right.

When a Constitutional Carry law is passed in a state, what is effectively happening is the repeal of a penalty for carrying a handgun (either openly or concealed, depending on the jurisdiction), without government approval.

Requirements to acquire a permit to carry vary from state to state. Some states require paying a fee, getting fingerprinted like a common criminal, and passing an invasive government background check. Some states require one to shoot like an Olympian after a government-mandated 12-hour training course.

The penalty in some cases for carrying without a permit (which is essentially a victimless crime) can range from a misdemeanor to a life-shattering felony.

Take, for example, the carry laws in Michigan, where the open carry of a pistol is legal for anyone legally allowed to possess a pistol, but the act of concealing it (or having it in a car) without a permit is punishable with a five-year felony.
In other words, what is completely legal to do openly becomes a felony by something as simple as putting on a jacket.

Not only does Constitutional Carry deter crime by enabling law-abiding citizens to more easily arm themselves against the threats of criminals, but it is also a form of criminal justice reform by repealing draconian laws that punish citizens for practicing a fundamental right.

Here’s hoping that after things return to normal, more legislators and governors will take swift action to pass Constitutional Carry laws in their respective states.

Brenden Boudreau is the Director of Field Operations for the National Association for Gun Rights, writing from Michigan. Contact him at Disclosure: In addition to his work with the National Association for Gun Rights, the author is also Executive Director of Great Lakes Gun Rights.