What is constitutional carry?
Put simply, constitutional carry means that the armed citizen can exercise their carry rights in accordance with the U.S. Constitution’s and the state constitution’s right to bear arms. When the Second Amendment was written, its application was solely to the federal government. It took the ruling in the McDonald v. City of Chicago to bind it to the states even though the meat of the case was striking down Chicago’s ban on concealed carry.
As a result of the incorporation, no state may ban firearm ownership, acquisition, carry, storage, or method of transport within its sovereign borders. Due to the language used in D.C. v. Heller, states may still enact regulations on the constitutional right.
Prior to its incorporation, any protections for firearms carry were derived from state constitutions where existing. Current day, while no state actively bans the carry of firearms, it is regulated via a permitting system.
Constitutional Carry removes that permitting requirement, but predominately leaves the permitting process intact for the sake of those who travel as not all states recognize all permits. As more states are upgrading to constitutional carry, some are striking the requirement for nonresidents, and others are negotiating reciprocity arrangements with other states.
After the ruling in Obergefell v. Hodges, a question was asked: Since the Supreme Court has now required all fifty states to recognize each other’s marriage license under the Full Faith and Credit Clause (FF&C), why couldn’t that apply to gun permits? The simple answer: There hasn’t been a challenge brought under the FF&C.
While a case law search turns up numerous challenges to the various gun laws that exist between states, four conclusions can be drawn:
- Courts have upheld our constitutional rights as limited and subject to reasonable regulation.
- Firearm licensing schemes have been upheld as those reasonable forms of regulation because they balance the interest of the state in maintaining public safety with the right of the citizen.
- While the SCOTUS found in 2007 that the right to keep and bear arms is protected for home ownership, and a complete ban of concealed carry overturned in 2010, it has never outright stated that the right to keep and bear arms is untouchable.
- The current form of scrutiny applied to any gun law in existence is intermediate scrutiny which the state always meets in the name of public safety and knowing who they approve licenses for.
The bottom line: The most effective way to overturn gun control is through the legislature and not the court.
On the upside: No state that has upgraded to Constitutional Carry has attempted to revert back.
States that have upgraded
The map below accounts for all states that removed the requirement to have a permit to carry a firearm. Some states’ constitutional carry laws extend to non-residents. As time and resources allow, the map below will be updated to indicate which states have made such an extension.
Those who seek to get a permit to stay in compliance with reciprocity should get a sense of which states will be traveled and apply for a permit that will cover those states. Currently, non-resident permits from Utah and Florida provide the most reciprocity. If necessary, keep a digital download of the reciprocity agreement handy should you need it for legal purposes.
Please note that there is a difference between extending constitutional carry to non-residents and a state forming reciprocity agreements with all states.
For any legal questions, or to clear up any confusion, always contact an attorney.
Finally, constitutional carry does not permit an armed individual to be somewhere prohibited by law, or where a visual or verbal warning has been issued by a private entity.
States with pending legislation
Over time, more state’s legislatures are introducing the legislation. For each state on this list, the most recent date is listed first, followed by a source. Once the governor has signed the bill and it’s been reported by a credible source, it gets removed from this list and the map above. If a bill is defeated at any point, it will be listed as such. Any defeated or vetoed legislation will remain listed on this site to provide a history of progress.
As with anything else, legislation gains the most traction with increased support. Letters, emails, and phone calls are always the best ways to express support. Just note that any letter(s) you write in support of a bill become part of the public record.
State gun organizations
Since the vast majority of the legal framework behind gun laws and regulations are made at the state level, individual non-profit organizations have been formed in most states. For the most part, these organizations are staffed by volunteers with regular jobs, but have a passion for defending gun rights against government intrusion.
Below is a list of gun organizations within each state that identify as active in the fight to protect gun rights. This list below is purely informative and not intended as an endorsement. Information was gathered using information gathered from social media and internet searches. Any questions about the individual organizations should be directed to the people that run it. Be sure to follow them on social media as they will have the latest updates on legislation pending in their state.