Political Pearl-Clutching Over Permitless Carry Won't Stop Its Progress

David Duprey

“BITS” is a term that firearm attorney Evan Nappen uses to describe the impending doom that was described in the late 80’s in Florida. They screamed from the rooftops and all across the land that there’ll be “Blood In The Streets!” Three and a half decades later, Florida, the Gunshine State, is not covered in blood. Death and pestilence is not around every corner. In fact, Florida has been and continues to be one of the more popular states to move to and visit.

This concept of blood in the streets has been repeated every single time infringements on the Second Amendment were removed from a jurisdictional statute. With Vermont, New Hampshire, and Maine all being permitless carry states, one would assume Massachusetts would be awash with blood dripping down from its northern neighbors. However, the blood in the streets of the Bay State come from that state itself, with Massachusetts being ranked the most violent crime-ridden state in all of New England.

Permitless carry has been in the crosshairs of pundits with more reporting on the subject as more states adopt that standard. The ails of less usurpations on a natural right are overstated by the anti-freedom caucus and understated by pro-civil liberty persons. “No Permit, No Problem: More States Allow Residents to Carry a Hidden Gun” brings forward more commentary.

Six more states no longer require residents to hold a permit to carry a concealed firearm.

Arkansas, Iowa, Montana, Tennessee, Texas and Utah this year enacted what gun rights advocates often refer to as “constitutional carry” measures. A legislative priority for groups such as the National Rifle Association, 21 states now have such measures in place. Many of these states still have restrictions on possessing firearms in certain government buildings.

More states may be added to that list before the end of this legislative season. The Ohio House last month passed a bill along party lines that would eliminate a requirement for gun owners to take an eight-hour class and undergo a background check to carry a concealed firearm in public. It is now before the state Senate, which also is controlled by Republicans. Wisconsin lawmakers also are debating a permitless carry bill.

Similar bills have passed in one legislative chamber in both Louisiana and South Carolina this year. Meanwhile, the U.S. Supreme Court is considering whether New York’s gun permitting system violates the Second Amendment—a case that could gut firearm permit provisions nationwide.

We’re seeing more pairing to party when it comes to our natural rights. The theme of Republicans looking to remove restrictions is threaded through the piece, with a notation saying that there’s not even any public support for such moves. I tend to disagree with that sentiment, but even if there wasn’t public support or interest in the removal of infringements of a natural right, does that mean they shouldn’t? Why does this civil right have to be expressly tied to the GOP? The so-called “gut[ing]” of firearm provisions nationwide is akin to this blood in the streets mentality. By “gut”, what is being said? Because the NYSRPA v. Bruen case is not poised to “gut” anything. The case is going to answer the following question the justices have agreed to answer:

Whether the State’s denial of petitioners’ applications for concealed-carry licenses for self-defense violated the Second Amendment.

That’s a tough question. And if the justices do decide that the denial of a concealed-carry license is a violation of the Second Amendment, how exactly is that going to “gut” permit provisions? It’d level the playing field allowing those that don’t have political clout, money, or can’t meet an unrealistic threshold on what’s threatening them. By nationwide, they mean the eight remaining may-issue states, of which only a few offenders actually don’t issue and or play games with the permitting of carry licenses. But it’s gonna be a real gutting!

From the side of reason and freedom, we can extract some comments that make sense:

Permitless carry laws eliminate what proponents say is an onerous and time-consuming step for people who want to arm themselves for self-protection. When Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee signed his state’s permitless carry law earlier this year, the Republican tweeted that “it shouldn’t be hard for law-abiding Tennesseans to exercise their” Second Amendment rights.

[…]

Wisconsin’s permitless carry bill, which received a public hearing in the state Senate in October, also would prohibit local governments from banning weapons on public transportation. It’s unclear when the legislation will get a vote, but gun rights advocates are confident it will pass.

Eliminating the permit requirement would be a welcome change for gun owners uneasy about being on a government list, said Nik Clark, president of Wisconsin Carry, a Milwaukee-based gun rights organization. It also would allow people who want a gun for self-protection to acquire one without having to wait through the permitting process, which Clark said is important in cases of domestic abuse or in situations such as the civil unrest of 2020.

“We have a human right to self-defense,” Clark said. “To say that you need permission from the government to do that is crazy. It’s anti-American.”

Gun rights advocates such as Clark have been pushing for a permitless carry law in Wisconsin for more than a decade. It never gained the support of key state legislative leaders or former Republican Gov. Scott Walker, who said in 2017 that licenses for concealed firearms were “appropriate.”

I do have to hand it to the author of this piece for including the pro-freedom side of this coin. However, I do feel there is a bit of a bias, with favoritism being cast towards the anti-freedom caucus members.

“This is a dangerous step for states,” said Eugenio Weigend, director of the gun violence prevention program at the Center for American Progress, a liberal think tank. “This could easily raise some confrontations in some places, further escalating violence to reach lethal levels.”

The debate over self-defense figured prominently in the recent trial of Kyle Rittenhouse, who was charged with homicide after he killed two people in the tumultuous aftermath of a police shooting in Kenosha, Wisconsin, in 2020. A jury acquitted Rittenhouse last month, finding that his use of deadly force in the chaotic streets was legally justifiable. Prosecutors called him a dangerous vigilante.

In Georgia, Travis McMichael argued he was acting in self-defense when he shot and killed Ahmaud Arbery, an unarmed Black man who was jogging in McMichael’s neighborhood. McMichael was convicted of murder last month, along with his father and a neighbor. The three men pursued Arbery in a pickup truck.

[…]

“This puts our citizens at higher risk,” said Jeri Bonavia, executive director of the Wisconsin Anti-Violence Effort Educational Fund, a gun safety group.

Bonavia and researchers at the Center for American Progress found in a September study that since Wisconsin enacted a law in 2011 allowing residents to carry concealed weapons with a permit, gun-related homicides and aggravated assaults have risen. Gun-related homicides and assaults were on the decline in Wisconsin before 2012, but began to shift upward during the implementation of the law, the researchers found.

[…]

Last month, the Republican-led Pennsylvania legislature passed a similar permitless carry bill. However, Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf vetoed the legislation last week.

“Unfortunately, this bill would make gun violence worse and would put law enforcement officers at greater risk of harm,” Wolf said in his veto message.

The disproportionate coverage and bias is best captured by these statements:

These new laws have coincided with measures allowing guns in houses of worship and on school grounds and public transportation.

While Democrats widely reject the permitless carry policy, polling suggests it also lacks widespread support in the GOP. Most of the pressure on lawmakers to pass these bills has come from gun rights lobbyists at the NRA and other groups, Bonavia said.

“These bills are not a result of public demand,” she said. “There is not a groundswell of support that we need to carry these guns without any regulations.”

Indeed, just over a third of Republicans support allowing people to carry concealed guns without a permit, according to an April survey by the Pew Research Center. (The center is a subsidiary of The Pew Charitable Trusts, which funds Stateline.)

Gun safety advocates have called on state lawmakers to restrict gun access, rather than expand it, citing a spike in gun violence and recent school shootings, including one at a Michigan high school last week that left four dead.

Well there you have it; permitless carry allegedly expands the access to firearms. I do remember the last time I was walking around Burlington, Vermont that there were people standing on the street corners handing out firearms to those passing by. Umm, no. This alleged access is a misnomer, at best. Probably deliberately false. An expansion of access to firearms would be provisions in law that required every jurisdiction and town to have at least one retail location that sells firearms. Given the restrictions in areas like DC, that’d actually be a real common-sense law.

Permitless carry is part of the cleanup crew from the restriction destruction that’s occurred for far too long. Nothing about permitless carry makes anything “easier” on those who are committed to getting involved with criminal activity. The criminals already grant themselves permitless carry wherever they want to. What permitless carry really represents to many members of the anti-freedom caucus  is a complete and total loss of control. With permitting laws forcing people to comport to a honey-do list of things to complete prior to exercising a constitutional right, there’s that leverage of control. There’s that possibility that someone won’t jump through the hoops in order to protect themselves and their families in public. This is all about power.

As we watch permitting laws get “gutted” by a hopeful favorable opinion in NYSRPA next year, watching “may-issue” permitting circle the drain in New Jersey, New York, California, Maryland, Hawaii, Massachusetts, etc., let’s celebrate the loss of power in progressive politics as we know it. A new independence, as it were (or will be).