The buzz in Texas is the pending legislation for ‘constitutional carry’ which is also called ‘permitless carry’. If passed by the Texas legislature and signed by Governor Abbott, Texas residents would be able to carry a firearm without needing a permit.
Opponents of this legislation are calling it reckless government approval for highly dangerous firearms practices. Proponents of constitutional carry are calling it a healthy extension of constitutional rights, a natural expression of the 2nd Amendment that should have never been regulated in the first place.
What is the current Law in Texas?
Currently, Texas has a ‘shall issue’ license status with permitted ‘open carry’. This means anyone who meets the basic requirements of carrying a firearm, which includes being 18 years of age, having a clean criminal history, clean mental health history, completion of an approved firearms safety course (which includes range time), fingerprinting, background checks and some fees must be issued a license by the state.
This is different from other states that have a ‘may issue’ status, whereas a firearms license is dependent on local officials’ whims, regardless of your pristine qualifications. All too often, ‘may issue’ de facto means ‘no issue’. This is the most restrictive current status and includes parts of California, New York and several small states in the continental northeast.
Naturally, there are even more confusing carry laws and practices in effect at US military installations, tribal lands and American territories (American Samoa, Guam, Puerto Rico, Virgin Islands, etc.)
Licensed Texans are allowed to ‘open carry’. This means we can possess a gun in public and wear it visibly, such as in a shoulder or hip holster.
Constitutional Carry around the United States
IF Texas’s legislature passes constitutional carry and Governor Abbott signs it into law, Texas would join a host of other states that have such rights already.
States with constitutional carry rights are currently: Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, Idaho, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Maine, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, New Hampshire, North Dakota, Oklahoma, South Dakota, Tennessee, Utah, Vermont, West Virginia and Wyoming.
- Green=Constitutional Carry
- Dark Blue=Shall Issue
- Light Blue=Shall Issue (May issue in practice)
- Yellow=May Issue
- Red=May Issue (No issue in practice)
- Black=No Issue
Of course, each of these states has their own unique gun-control laws. They might only permit residents of that state to have a license, they might only allow concealed carry and forbid ‘open carry’ or they may not recognize licenses from other jurisdictions. If you’re unsure, it’s always worth checking state and local laws before carrying.
Gun Rights and Violent Crime
A great deal of media scrutiny and crime-analysis effort has gone into studying constitutional carry states. They all want to answer the BIG QUESTION: Does constitutional carry increase or decrease violent crime? And if it does, to what extent?
Unfortunately, there is no great way to answer this question. Gun-control supporters will denounce any study that refutes their pre-existing beliefs. Gun-control opponents will laud any study that reinforces their pre-existing beliefs. To make things easier (and encourage readers to pursue their own research), GunLove has compiled a list of states with extreme crime rates and their carry laws.
Source: FBI Uniform Crime Report
State with lowest violent crime rates—Maine. RIGHTS—Constitutional Carry
State with highest violent crime rates—Alaska. RIGHTS—Constitutional Carry
State with most gun-related murders—California. RIGHTS—May Issue
State with least gun-related murders—Hawaii. RIGHTS—May Issue
There, that should clarify this issue. Oh wait…it doesn’t answer anything at all.
The problem is there are numerous factors associated with measuring violent crime (and especially violent gun crime). These factors are poverty levels, geography, population and law enforcement efficacy, to name a few. There are also distinctions to be made between handgun crime vs rifle crime, or domestic violence vs workplace violence.
All in all, measuring and interpreting crime statistics is unbelievably complicated and difficult.
Regardless of what the mainstream media peddles, analyzing and preventing violent gun crime is not as simple as ‘take their guns away’ and the crimes will stop.
Regardless, You’re Responsible!
When the politicians and state senate committees and law enforcement officers and everyone else has finished regulating and policing this issue, there is truly only one person responsible for your behavior—with or without a firearm—you.
If you live in a state with constitutional carry—and you decide to carry a firearm—it is your duty to become educated and skilled in that firearm’s use. The government and police officers are not responsible for what you do with your gun. If you break the law, you will be held accountable.
If you live in a state without constitutional carry, indeed, you might live in a state that heavily restricts the 2nd Amendment without a clear explanation – your safety is still your own responsibility. If you break the law by carrying a firearm, but then you stop a mass-shooter in their tracks, all the good and bad repercussions will be yours to bear.
Sometimes, doing the right and brave thing is illegal. Sometimes the legal option is wrong and weak. Part of being an American is deciding which risks are worth taking. It’s your right.