by Justin Hinckley
LPNC 2nd Amendment Liaison Coordinator
On January 1, 2023, Alabama enacted its constitutional carry law, signed in March 2022. This is the latest in a string of pro-self-defense actions in both legislatures and judiciaries throughout the U.S. in the last few years. In 2003 just one state, Vermont, had legal constitutional carry. Twenty years later, and 25 states now have it in their laws. Nineteen of those 25 have come into force since 2013.
Constitutional carry is essentially the removal of restrictions on concealed or open carrying a firearm. It is a term generally applied to laws which make it legal to carry a gun without a specific license issued by the state in question. A few states have stipulations pertaining to the open versus concealed carry of a gun or relating to handguns versus long guns, but the majority of laws apply equally to all manners of carry and types of firearm.
As with all burdensome government restrictions, the benefits of removal are many and varied. In this column, I will discuss some of the reasons with the biggest impact to the most people. For starters, the obvious issue of liberty is worth mentioning. As Libertarians, we support the idea that everyone should be able to best determine for themselves how to defend their life. Government should not be placing artificial barriers between individuals and self-defense.
Constitutional carry reduces entrance costs for individuals, thus allowing more people to accept the responsibility of defending themselves. Acquiring carry permits is expensive and time-consuming. By enacting constitutional carry in North Carolina, we reduce the cost of legally carrying a concealed firearm by about $200 (average concealed carry class price and application fee), reduce the time needed to take off work by about 12 hours (eight-hour class and estimated four hours for sheriff’s office), and eliminate the one-to-four month processing period of scheduling your class, attending your class, scheduling your application appointment, getting your fingerprints, submitting your application and fingerprints, and going back to the sheriff’s office to receive your concealed handgun permit. These barriers price-out lower-income individuals, as does the time required to take off work. Surely, rich people don’t deserve to defend themselves more than everyone else.
The last benefit I want to discuss related to constitutional carry is the idea of crime and policing. If we all agree that police cannot be everywhere to protect everyone at all times and we all agree that self-defense is a fundamental human right, then it should follow that we all agree having the most effective means to self-defense and having those means at our disposable at all times is essential. Even if law enforcement was eminently trustworthy, police often cannot respond to crimes fast enough to interrupt them and save lives. This makes it incumbent upon all individuals to accept the burden of providing for their own defense. Constitutional carry provides a better atmosphere for individuals to decide for themselves how, when, and where to arm themselves as a means of self-defense by eliminating the artificial barriers of government regulation.
As Americans dedicated to the cause of liberty, it is not enough that we merely read and discuss the topic of constitutional carry amongst ourselves. We must start voicing our thoughts to those who represent us, as they cannot claim ignorance to the importance of such a cause if they are told about it regularly. In the interest of assisting people with expressing their beliefs quickly and clearly, I have included a small note you can send to your state representatives, encouraging them to endorse the principle of constitutional carry:
I am contacting you today in order to express my thoughts, seek your response, and ultimately, gain your endorsement regarding the topic of constitutional carry. Constitutional carry is a term used to refer to laws which abolish permitting and licensing schemes relating to carrying a firearm outside the home. It puts the decision-making process about how and when to carry a firearm back into the hands of the individual. Would you not agree that individuals are in the best position to make decisions effecting their own lives? I fully support the enactment of constitutional carry in our great state of North Carolina, thus enabling those who have not had opportunity or means to acquire their concealed handgun permit (CHP), to be able to carry concealed without delay. The NC CHP costs hundreds of dollars, requires many hours dedicated to the process, and months of waiting in order to obtain. These barriers block many low-income citizens from being able to carry the most effective means to self-defense, because they do not wish to risk arrest for illegal carrying, while doing nothing to prevent violent criminals from illegally carrying. After all, the criminals are intent on committing additional crimes anyway, what incentive do they have to not break one more law? I look forward to your response and working with you to expand the idea of constitutional carry and passing a law to enable all peaceful North Carolinians to defend themselves in the way they see fit.