The Economist Thinks Permitless Carry Should Be Scrapped

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Texas is about to become the latest permitless carry state. Louisiana is determined to pass such a bill, despite a veto threat from the governor. Several other states have already approved permitless carry this year. It seems the rules for carrying a firearm are changing everywhere we look.

Permitless carry isn’t precisely new. It’s been around for years at this point, only right now we’re seeing a lot of momentum build as state after state seems to be passing it.

Not everyone is thrilled with the idea.

Every American state requires you to have a licence to drive a car, hunt or become a barber. Yet by the end of this year at least 20 states will allow you to carry a handgun in public without a permit. So far in 2021 five have already passed “permitless carry” laws, and five more, including Texas and Louisiana, are considering them. If these became law, around a third of Americans would live in states where it was legal to carry guns around without any need for a license or training.

Anyone who considers the 181 mass shootings that have taken place in America since January, or the recent spike in violent crime, would be forgiven for wondering why some states want fewer restrictions on guns, rather than more. The pro-gun lobby, including the National Rifle Association (nra), argues that having more armed civilians will help boost public safety, making it more likely that “good guys” with guns can intercept “bad guys” with guns. With the help of Republican state legislators, they are advancing an interpretation of the Second Amendment which imagines that America’s founders intended no restrictions on guns or gun ownership whatsoever. Backers of permitless carry call it “constitutional carry” to make it seem legitimate and to appear to give it a pedigree.

Do not be fooled. Permitless carry is a radical departure from tradition and should be opposed. One reason is that the gains to gun owners are trivial. In most of the states considering permitless carry, it is already possible to be armed with a handgun concealed in public if you have a license.

You know you’ve got a bad argument when you claim that something is both radical and trivial, all at the same time.

As it stands now, if someone in the state of Georgia decides they need to carry a gun–maybe due to threats on their life–they’re required to go down to the probate court and fill out an application, then go to the sheriff’s office to be fingerprinted, then back to the probate court to finish up the process at a cost of $75.

Then they’re required to wait up to 60 days for the permit, and Georgia is far from the worse state when it comes to permitting requirements.

Permitless carry would allow someone to carry a firearm immediately upon deciding they want or need to carry one. That difference isn’t trivial, especially if it’s your life in the balance.

Oh, but that’s not a big deal, apparently.

Obtaining a license is hardly onerous, given what guns are capable of. Applicants are often required to do training and to pass a shooting test. Searches help screen out people who should not be trusted with a gun, such as those who have committed violent crimes or who have a history of mental illness.

Which is how the shooter in a workplace shooting in Aurora, Illinois squeaked by, eh? He went through all of that.

Further, purchasing a firearm from a licensed dealer includes all those background checks as well.

What isn’t being mentioned, however, is that those who represent a problem with firearms are the criminals who routinely carry firearms without a permit.

Oh, but what’s this all about really? Well, it seems those of us who support it have bought into an extremist point of view.

Permitless carry is also a misreading of history. Romanticising America as a country that intended no restrictions on guns is incorrect. In the 19th century, most Southern states had stricter gun laws than they do today. Even in Wild West settlements like Tombstone, Arizona, newcomers had to leave their guns on the outskirts of town or register them with the sheriff. A century ago the nra backed permitting laws as a way to promote responsible gun ownership and helped draft the country’s first federal gun-control laws in the 1930s. By arguing for permitless carry, it is not faithfully adhering to the past but drifting further towards an extreme.

Yes, Tombstone had gun control laws. How did that work out for them?

Further, the author almost hit a salient point by saying most Southern states had stricter gun laws in days gone by. Of course, that was because they wanted to keep black men and women disarmed. It was easier to terrorize them into submission if they couldn’t fight back.

Yet it’s funny how the author acts like history began in the 19th century when the Constitution is a product of the 18th century. When the Second Amendment was passed, there were no restrictions on guns. A man could carry a pistol on his person if he wanted and no one said a damn thing about it.

It’s not extreme to take us back to our nation’s origins. The extremism is continuing to push us toward the failed policies we’ve seen throughout the 20th Century as if they’re the only possible future.

Frankly, the author says the laws need to be scrapped, but his entire argument is that he doesn’t like this and will manipulate the truth in order to convince you to oppose such measures.

If this is the best argument the anti-gunners have, permitless carry has a bright future ahead of it.