On January 31, 2019, South Dakota Governor Kristi Noem signed Constitutional Carry into law. With Noem’s signature, South Dakota recently became the 14th state to embrace the practice.
Constitutional Carry is the simple concept that an individual who is legally able to possess a gun, should be able to carry it without having to pay expensive fees or go through a bunch of red tape.
South Dakota’s recent passage is a good first step in reversing the near century-long push to regulate firearms. Firearm carry liberalization is part of a larger trend that started in the 1980s when states allowed licensed individuals to carry firearms.
Fast forward to the present, all 50 states now allow for some degree of licensed carry. According to gun researcher John Lott, there are now 17.25 million concealed weapons permits issued in the United States.
With the exception of Vermont, which has had this since the United States’ foundation, it is a relatively new political development. While the rest of the country started to embrace gun control in some shape or form throughout the late 19th century into the 20th century, Vermont’s courts have upheld its lax gun laws in notable State Supreme Court cases like the 1903 State v. Rosenthal decision.
For nearly a century, Vermont style carry did not make its way to other states. However, Alaska got the ball rolling in 2003 when it became the first state to waive its requirement for a concealed carry permit. However, there was some lag as Arizona became the next Constitutional Carry state in 2010. In the ensuing decade, 11 states have followed suit in enacting Constitutional Carry.
With Republican Senator Nathan Dahm filing Constitutional Carry bill SB 12 late last year, Oklahoma appears to be the next state to adopt it. It also helps that Oklahoma’s new Governor Kevin Stitt has gone on record in support of this legislation.
Last year, Constitutional Carry met an untimely demise when Republican Governor Mary Fallin vetoed it. By the end of this year, there may be 15 Constitutional Carry states in America.
Although there aren’t many comprehensive studies on the impact it has had on crime rates, there is a reason to believe it won’t spur a sudden wave of crime. Even with gun ownership rates increasing and liberalized firearms carry laws becoming the norm in the past 30 years, crimes rates continue to go down. From 1993 to 2013, for example, per capita, gun ownership increased by 56 percent while gun violence dropped by 49 percent.
So there is a reason to believe that additional gun policy liberalization like Constitutional Carry will not have a negative effect on crime. Regardless, Constitutional Carry is not only solid legislation but an effective way for liberty activists to get involved in a politically relevant issue. All politics starts locally, and Constitutional Carry campaigns are a great way to build strong liberty coalitions and promote liberty candidates. Low-hanging fruits should always be exploited.
Here’s to more states embracing Constitutional Carry with open arms.