Thirteen states now honor the right to carry without a ‘permit’

A version of this column appears in the April 10 edition of “Firearms News” (formerly “Shotgun News”), now arriving in newsstands and mailboxes.

In late February, New Hampshire Gov. Chris Sununu signed a bill abolishing the requirement that residents obtain a “permit” to carry a concealed handgun.

It was already legal to carry openly in New Hampshire without a permit. But state Senate Majority Leader Jeb Bradley saw no reason why concealing the handgun should suddenly require a “permit.”

(For starters, allowing open carry but restricting concealed carry tends to discriminate against women, whose clothing styles may not lend themselves to hip holsters, who often prefer to carry in a purse — and who are of course more likely to need an “equalizer” if stalked or assaulted. Proliferation of concealed carry also does a better job of discouraging thieves and assailants in general, since they can never be sure which prospective victims are armed.)

New Hampshire is the first state to enact permit-free carry – “Constitutional carry” — since the Missouri Legislature overrode Democrat Gov. Jay Nixon’s veto last September. It’s the 12th state to adopt some form of permit-free carry since 2003.

Three other states — Idaho, Mississippi and West Virginia – joined the club in 2016. The rest of the 12 (or is it 13?) “Constitutional” carry states are Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, Kansas, Maine, Wyoming, and peaceful Vermont, which has never restricted the carrying of firearms in any way, for residents or anyone else.

Some analysts include Montana as a “Constitutional carry” state, because Constitutional carry is the law outside city limits. Others contend Arkansas law is similar to that of Vermont, which has been permit-free since before statehood in 1791.

That makes permit-free carry the second-most-common variety of gun-carry law in the country, according to Dean Weingarten of Ammoland Shooting Sports News.

Eight collectivist states — California, New York, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, New Jersey, Maryland, Delaware and Hawaii (all of which went for Hillary Clinton, talk about your weird coincidences!) — still allow government officials to deny permits to any applicant regardless of background or training. The other 29 states have “shall issue” laws requiring government officials to issue “carry” permits to any applicant who obtains required training and/or passes background checks.
And with Republicans in control of every branch of government in 25 states, activists expect more progress quickly, Mr. Weingarten reports.

(On the related topic of “campus carry,” AWR Hawkins of Brietbart News updates us on March 31: “Georgia lawmakers passed campus carry legislation early Friday morning, which now heads to Gov. Nathan Deal’s (R) desk for a signature.

“This is not the first time campus carry has been sent to Deal’s desk. The Georgia House passed campus carry on February 22, 2016, and the state’s Senate followed suit on March 11. Deal campaigned for campus carry as it moved from House to Senate, only to do an about-face and veto it on May 3.

“The point of contention in 2016 was that law-abiding concealed carry permit holders would be able to carry their guns into on-campus daycare facilities. Such facilities have been exempted this year in hopes of appeasing Deal and securing his signature. The Atlanta Journal and Constitution reports that other exemptions ‘include dormitories, fraternity and sorority houses, and buildings used for athletic events.’”)

On March 28, Georgia Carry’s executive director, Jerry Henry, told Hawkins “This is not the bill we wanted, but it is a step in the right direction. It will decriminalize carrying a firearm on a college or university campus. It moves the ball a little further down the road.”

Deal has not indicated whether he plans to sign the legislation or veto it again.

Gov. Asa Hutchinson of Arkansas signed campus carry into law on March 22, bringing the total number of campus carry states to ten. ( .)


In the Bad News Department, also in late February, a federal appeals court ruled in favor of Maryland’s “assault weapons” and “high capacity magazine” ban.

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit ruled 10-4 to uphold Maryland’s ban on certain “scary-looking” semi-automatic rifles and normal-sized magazines that hold more than 10 rounds, reports Stephen Gutowski of the Free Beacon. Writing for the majority, Judge Robert B. King said because the rifles in question have been used in high-profile shootings and are “like” military weapons, they are not protected by the Second Amendment.

“Both before and after Newtown, similar military-style rifles and detachable magazines have been used to perpetrate mass shootings in places whose names have become synonymous with the slaughters that occurred there,” King wrote in a ruling oddly ignorant of judicial precedent. “We are convinced that the banned assault weapons and large-capacity magazines are among those arms that are ‘like’ ‘M-16 rifles’ — ‘weapons that are most useful in military service’ — which the Heller Court singled out as being beyond the Second Amendment’s reach.”

“Put simply,” Judge King concluded, “we have no power to extend Second Amendment protections to weapons of war.”

So, instead of using the Supreme Court’s Heller test of whether a firearm is “in common use” — combined with whether it’s “dangerous and unusual” — the Fourth Circuit focused on whether or not a firearm is “most useful in military service” . . . and then applied that test exactly backwards.

“No judicial power is required to ‘extend’ the Second Amendment to cover weapons of war, because they’re precisely what it was intended to cover in the first place,” points out Thomas Knapp of the Libertarian Institute.

“The Second Amendment was ratified only a few years after a citizen army — many of its soldiers armed, at least at first, with weapons brought from home — defeated the most fearsome professional military machine in the history of the world, the army of a global empire.

“The express purpose of the Second Amendment was to guarantee the continued maintenance of an armed populace,” Mr. Knapp wrote on Feb. 24.

“In fact, the Second Militia Act of 1792 legally required every adult able-bodied white American male to own and maintain ‘weapons of war’ (a musket or rifle, bayonet, powder and bullets) just in case the militia had to be called out.

“Even in the 1939 case usually cited to justify victim disarmament (‘gun control’) laws, U.S. v. Miller, the U.S. Supreme Court held that the reason Jack Miller’s short-barreled shotgun could be banned was that it WASN’T a weapon of war: ‘It is not within judicial notice that this weapon is any part of the ordinary military equipment or that its use could contribute to the common defense,’ (the high court ruled in 1939.)

“Yes, you read that right,” Mr. Knapp continues, quite correctly. “The Supreme Court ruled that the Second Amendment applies ONLY to ‘weapons of war.’”

(In fact, short-barreled shotguns HAD been used in the trenches in World War One; the Miller case was wrongly decided because when the judges asked the U.S. attorney about that, he lied. Miller’s defense raised no objection, since the moonshiner Miller had long since disappeared, and he was not represented at the Supreme Court. There WAS no defense.)

Mr. Knapp expresses the opinion that the rationale for Miller was too restrictive, but nonetheless concludes “Shame on King and the 4th Circuit for failing to uphold the plain meaning of ‘shall not be infringed.’”

The National Shooting Sports Foundation, one of the plaintiffs, said it’s considering appealing the case further . . . as they certainly should.


A senior official at the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (ATF) recommended reducing some regulations in an internal memo published by the Washington Post Feb. 9.

Ronald Turk, the ATF’s associate deputy director and chief operating officer, argued that reworking the way the agency enforces certain laws would be beneficial to both the firearms industry and the ATF. The memo argues regulations should be reduced or eliminated on firearms silencers, interstate gun sales, the importation of certain firearms, and individuals who sell guns exclusively Online or at gun shows.

Those steps could be taken “without significantly hindering ATF’s mission or adversely affecting public safety,” Turk said in the memo, “(allowing) ATF to further focus precious personnel and resources on the mission to combat gun violence.”

The views expressed in Turk’s memo are not necessarily shared by the agency and were intended only for internal dialogue, according to ATF spokesman Ali Berisha.

Right. Which is why the memo was released to Washington’s version of “Izvestia,” the Washington Post, and the ATF isn’t denying everything? Despite this thin fig leaf of “deniability,” the memo was obviously released as a trial balloon to test public reaction, meaning these overdue steps are under serious consideration.

The leftist Center for American Progress of course criticized the proposals as “a disturbing series of giveaways to the gun industry that would weaken regulatory oversight . . . without adequate consideration of the impact on public safety.”

Chris Cox of the NRA’s Institute for Legislative Action, on the other hand, replied “We look forward to working with the new attorney general as he puts the focus of the Justice Department back where it belongs — on prosecuting violent criminals, not harassing law-abiding gun owners. After eight years of overreach by the Obama administration, it’s time to roll back regulations that serve no legitimate law enforcement purpose.”


The Chicago Tribune reports 513 people were shot in that city from Jan. 1 through Feb. 27 of this year, an increase of 37 over the 466 shot during the same time period in 2016.

The number of murders Jan. 1 through Feb. 27 came in at 103, an increase of two victims over the 101 murdered during the same time period in 2016.

Chicago’s gun violence in 2016 was so high that it skewed national numbers for the country’s 30 largest cities. The Washington Post reports the Brennan Center of Justice expected “the homicide rate for the country’s 30 biggest cities . . . to go up by 14 percent (in 2016).” But “An astounding 43.7 percent of this overall increase” was the result of Chicago alone.

Add gun-controlled Washington and Baltimore, and three cities alone account for half the national increase.

“This means Chicago’s failed gun control experiment is affecting us all by making murder numbers appear higher across the nation than they actually are,” reports Breitbart News Second Amendment columnist AWR Hawkins. “These elevated numbers give Democratic politicians an opportunity to claim concealed carry is not effective,” etc.

Obviously, gun laws disarm only law-abiding victims. “Gun control” has failed and it’s time for it to end.

Chicago’s problems also stem from the destruction of traditional neighborhood boundaries 50 and 60 years ago by shoveling masses of poor, fatherless families (thanks, Welfare!) into high-rise “housing projects” – which were then torn down when they became (surprise!) nothing but Towers of Crime.

But a big part of the problem in these cities is also the “War on Drugs.” For the most part, people don’t shoot each other because they’re ON drugs; people shoot each other because there’s no legal way to settle disputes over distribution territories if their stock-in-trade is outlawed.

Alcohol is one of the most addictive drugs known, and Chicago beer distributors USED TO fight running gun battles in the streets of Chicago. But Budweiser distributors don’t have shoot-outs with Miller Lite distributors any more. Why? Because in 1933, after 14 years of failure and unintended consequences, Franklin Roosevelt and the Democratic Congress called off America’s “War on Booze.”

Vin Suprynowicz was for 20 years an award-winning columnist and editorial writer for the daily Las Vegas Review-Journal. He blogs at .

5 Comments to “Thirteen states now honor the right to carry without a ‘permit’”

  1. C D Tavares Says:

    “the Miller case was wrongly decided because when the judges asked the U.S. attorney about that, he lied. Miller’s defense raised no objection”

    We need to stop accepting our opponents’ deliberate mischaracterization of the Miller case, read it carefully for ourselves, and understand what it really says.

    Miller wasn’t a “defendant,” and the Supreme Court did not “wrongly decide” the case.

    Miller had been released twice without even a trial by a Arkansas judge (Hartsill Ragon) who considered NFA abhorrent to the Constitution on its face. Miller then hopped a boat to Cuba to avoid future legal harassment.

    The fedguv objected to the judge’s action (it would have completely nullified NFA) and lodged an appeal directly to SCOTUS.

    SCOTUS made one ruling and one ruling only: that it was improper for the judge to have dismissed the case without hearing actual evidence as to whether the particular guns in question were protected by the Second Amendment; and that the judge should go back and hold such a trial.

    Their commentary on whether guns might or might not be protected was only in the way of examples of questions that needed to be asked and answered by the lower court. They themselves neither ruled that any guns were so protected, nor that they were not — they would be unable to do so on appeal in any case, since it would involve ruling on “new” evidence that was never presented at an original trial.

    The judge never got around to holding the ordered trial, because Miller had died between the time the SCOTUS heard arguments, and the time they ruled. So the Miller case means next to nothing, other than the SCOTUS having issued guidelines that guns would have to satisfy, but never deciding in any way that any particular gun did or did not satisfy those requirements.

  2. Vin Says:

    Thanks, C.D. — It’s certainly true that the Miller case was remanded for further hearing by the lower court, which never transpired, rendering it a pretty “still-up-in-the-air” precedent to carry much weight re. the supposed “established constitutonality” of federal gun control.

    Point well taken.

    In the criminal case officially identified as “United States v. Miller (No. 696),” however, it would be unusual to call Miller anything but the “defendant,” whether he was living, dead, fled, missing, or otherwise. He certainly wasn’t the plaintiff or the charging officer.

    And the court certainly did issue an “opinion,” which can be read at . We don’t have the right to state whether we believe that “opinion” was right or wrong?

    Justice McReynolds wrote for the court: “In the absence of any evidence tending to show that possession or use of a ‘shotgun having a barrel of less than eighteen inches in length’ at this time has some reasonable relationship to the preservation or efficiency of a well regulated militia, we cannot say that the Second Amendment guarantees the right to keep and bear such an instrument. Certainly it is not within judicial notice that this weapon is any part of the ordinary military equipment, or that its use could contribute to the common defense. Aymette v. State, 2 Humphreys (Tenn.) 154, 158.”

    And I still say that’s wrong as to the facts. Short shotguns were used in the trenches of France (and in guarding prisoners) in 1917-1918; they could still be highly useful “for the common defense” today.

    The only place the court was RIGHT was in pointing out the right to keep and bear arms is linked in the Amendment to the right of the people to continue constituting an armed “civilian” militia of military usefulness, to defend against either foreign invaders or domestic tyrants (“the security of a FREE state.”)

    Which means it is when the arrogant statists who would disarm us sneer, “You clowns couldn’t very well defend your neighborhood against the 101st Airborne with a handful of deer rifles; you don’t think it gives you the right to own a tank or an artillery piece or an F-15, do you?” . . . that they are most wrong. That is precisely the pre-existing right which the central government in its charter is denied any power to infringe — our right not just to parity, but to be SUPERIOR IN ARMS to any select force which the federal authority might send to our towns and villages to suppress our liberties. That is PRECISELY what the Federalists specifically promised.

    Whether they find it convenient today, or not.

    — V.S.

  3. C D Tavares Says:

    Hang on Vin — you’re on the right track here and we’re on the same side.

    I agree with you 100% that these weapons were used by American (and other) military units to wage formal war, and therefore would qualify under the Court’s test. But that’s not what the “opinion” demanded.

    “In the absence of evidence… we cannot say” and “it is not within judicial notice that” are carefully-crafted lawyer speak that means, “no evidence in the matter under appeal decided this question, nor has any previous case decided it in precedent.” This is why we can’t say it’s wrong as to the facts — the facts were never even up to bat.

    Keep in mind that this was an appeal. In an appeal, no new evidence can be heard or considered. Technically, the Supreme Court could not have decided this question even if it had wanted to. (And I suspect they very much wanted to postpone it.)

    When I say the Court did not wrongly decide the case, it’s because the case technically was never about whether the guns qualified or not under the Second Amendment (though the government lawyers tried very hard in their briefs to make it so) — as an appeal, it was entirely about whether or not Hartsill Ragon should actually have held a trial for Frank Miller. The Court ruled there were reasons he should have, and I won’t characterize their decision as wrong. Imagine that Miller had been retried as ordered — any competent attorney would then have had the opportunity to introduce evidence that these weapons were suitable and in fact had been used for military reasons. A fair decision (especially in front of a judge we already know was hostile to the NFA) might have crippled it, restoring significant gun rights for decades to come.

    It’s critical to understand that the Court’s proposed “Second Amendment qualification test” in the opinion was just that — a proposed test. The Court never actually administered that test to any guns, and no guns had passed or failed it. And in fact this test remained unapplied in any court for years.

    Statists immediately pretended that the Supreme Court had already applied this test to sawed-off shotguns and they had failed it. Unfortunately, liberty-minded folks failed to challenge this misinterpretation, cementing it into the popular culture. When read carefully, Miler is a comparative nothing-burger that doesn’t deserve the prominence it is awarded. You can read more about this analysis of Miller in Alan Korwin’s “Supreme Court Gun Cases.”

    Finally, I will admit I misspoke about Miller not being “the defendant.” Technically, of course, he was. But Miller was in practice a free man who had never been tried, never been convicted, never been acquitted, didn’t appear before the Court, wasn’t formally represented, wasn’t even in the country, wasn’t extraditable, and wasn’t in any way at any actual risk. As defendants go, we’ve both seen more convincing performances from a 1974 Cadillac Eldorado Sedan and 64,695 Pounds of Shark Fins. 🙂

  4. Henry Says:

    Hey, let’s don’t forget the mandatory shout out to the idiots at the NRA, whose manufacturer apologia – “RIGHT to carry PERMIT,” a true invitation to head-exploding cognitive dissonance – appeared hundreds of times in their magazines and press releases, before the Constitutional Carry advocates left them irrelevant and eating dust in the slow lane of activism.

  5. Vin Says:

    Again thanks, C.D. — A useful exchange.

    — Vin