By: Brenden Boudreau
After a record-breaking year in 2021, in which we saw five states pass Constitutional Carry into law, including the second most populous state in the nation (Texas), a handful of states could soon be following suit in the New Year.
Constitutional Carry, of course, simply allows anyone who can lawfully possess a pistol to carry it openly or concealed without having to obtain a government-issued permit first. There are now 21 Constitutional Carry states and, depending how things turn out in 2022, gun owners could soon see half the nation no longer requiring a permit to exercise their right to keep and bear arms.
Gun owners in Alabama have long been frustrated by the Republican-controlled Legislature in Montgomery and their unwillingness to pass Constitutional Carry.
The National Association for Gun Rights (NAGR) and its members have been pounding Republican lawmakers for years to finally pass this commonsense legislation, and it appears that work may finally pay off in 2022.
But it won’t be without a challenge, as the Alabama Sheriffs’ Association, more concerned with making money off the back of gun owners than respecting the Second Amendment, is doubling down in their opposition to Constitutional Carry.
The National Association for Gun Rights is working closely with lawmakers to ensure true Constitutional Carry is passed through the Legislature and isn’t watered-down down in the process. NAGR is contacting thousands of gun owners by mail, e-mail, social media, and phones urging them to contact their lawmakers about Constitutional Carry.
Capitol insiders report that Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey has indicated that she will sign the bill if it gets to her desk, so it is up to the Republican-controlled Legislature to get the bill there as quickly as possible when session starts in January.
Republicans have held supermajorities in the Indiana General Assembly since 2012, leaving them with little excuse for not passing Constitutional Carry, yet the obstinance of the Republican establishment in Indianapolis has derailed major efforts to pass this popular pro-gun legislation every legislative session since 2015.
The National Association for Gun Rights and its state affiliate, Hoosier Gun Rights, are gearing up for a major push for Constitutional Carry in 2022.
Rumors are swirling that Republican leadership may not bring up Constitutional Carry, with it being a short legislative year, while other reports are saying that Constitutional Cary is a top agenda item for leadership.
One thing is for sure: if Constitutional Carry does not become law this year in Indiana, incumbent Republicans in newly drawn legislative districts could face major primary challengers from fired-up grassroots activists who are tired of Republicans not getting the job done for gun owners.
Reports are coming out all across Indiana that there a growing wave of dissatisfaction with the Republican majorities in Indianapolis and that there is a record number of new candidates filing for office ahead of the May primaries.
If the reports are true that Republicans are planning on passing Constitutional Carry this year, it’ll be crucial for gun owners to keep the pressure on their lawmakers to not water the bill down with weakening amendments as was witnessed during the 2021 legislative session.
The Ohio House of Representatives and the Ohio Senate have each passed their own version of Constitutional Carry, meaning either chamber just needs to take up the other chamber’s bill, pass it, and send it to Gov. Mike DeWine’s desk.
While this seems rather straightforward, the Republican establishment in Columbus has been known to play politics on gun rights before, so gun owners can ill-afford to take the progress on Constitutional Carry for granted and must keep the pressure on their lawmakers.
Gov. DeWine is facing a competitive Republican primary, and he is seen as vulnerable to his political right, so signing Constitutional Carry into law would be politically beneficial for him. He has also previously publicly indicated his support for Constitutional Carry, but he has also made major pushes for “Red Flag” laws and other forms of gun control, so it’s anyone’s guess what he will actually do.
The good news is that Republicans typically act more pro-gun during election years, so the timing of this push for Constitutional Carry in Ohio couldn’t be better.
The National Association for Gun Rights is gearing up to deploy hard-hitting grassroots program to get gun owners activated to hopefully help push Constitutional Carry across the finish line in the Buckeye State.
In 2021, Constitutional Carry fell a few votes shy of becoming law over a gubernatorial veto in Louisiana, and the Republican-controlled South Carolina State Senate also killed Constitutional Carry after nine Republicans voted with Democrats to kill it. The odds are stacked against gun owners in trying to pass Constitutional Carry into law in either of these states, but with the changing political environment, anything is possible.
Gun owners in Nebraska will also have a chance at seeing Constitutional Carry legislation advance in their unicameral legislature, but it seems there is still much work to be done on the political establishment in Lincoln before a serious chance of passing Constitutional Carry becomes a reality in this rural, pro-gun state.
With Gov. Ron DeSantis indicating that he would sign Constitutional Carry if it were sent to his desk, all eyes are on the Republican-controlled Florida Legislature to respond to his recent statements. It seems unlikely for a state that saw a Republican stampede for gun control back in 2018 to pass Constitutional Carry just four years later, but with Gov. DeSantis publicly supporting it, the political reality in Tallahassee could be changing very quickly.
Brenden Boudreau is the Director of Field Operations for the National Association for Gun Rights, writing from Michigan. Contact him at [email protected]. In addition to his work with the National Association for Gun Rights, the author is also Executive Director of Great Lakes Gun Rights.