The Rise of “Constitutional Carry” Is a Sign of Failing Trust in Government
Come next January, Alabama will be the 25th state to allow the carrying of concealed weapons without a permit. Alabama will soon join Indiana which in March of this year passed a new statute allowing permitless concealed carry in that state—sometimes called “constitutional carry.” In 2021 alone, at least six states passed their own provisions legalizing permitless concealed carry: Arkansas, Iowa, Montana, Tennessee, Texas, and Utah. Essentially, any law abiding citizen over a certain age (usually 18 or 21 years of age) can now carry a concealed firearm in these states. 20 years ago, only Vermont allowed unrestricted concealed carry. Beginning ten years ago, however, more than twenty states adopted new laws deregulating the carrying of firearms.
Why is this happening now? On its most simple level, these laws are passed because lawmakers and constituents at the state level have advocated for their passage. Moreover, whatever opposition has existed among interest groups and the public has been insufficient to block their passage.
On a deeper ideological level, increased access to concealed carry is likely the result of a growing feeling among much of the public that they need increased access to firearms for self-protection. In other words, the spread of constitutional carry points to a growing sentiment that state and local authorities are insufficient to provide a reasonable expectation of safety from violent crime, and that private self-defense is therefore more necessary now than in the past.
Moreover, many of these laws expanding access to concealed carry have been passed over the objections of local law enforcement. Police organizations have been among the most vocal of opponents to new constitutional carry measures, yet Republican lawmakers—a group often happy to fall all over themselves announcing how much they “back the blue”—have passed these laws anyway. It is one thing to support law enforcement officers on a vague philosophical level, of course, but the continued spread of constitutional carry suggests there are limits to this support among even conservatives. Rather, the passage of these laws suggests a growing lack of faith that even well-meaning law enforcement can or will provide meaningful defense from violent criminals when the time arises.
Declining Faith in Institutions
Article from Mises Wire