There are currently 12 states with Constitutional Carry status (no permit required to carry a handgun openly or concealed), and that number is continually increasing. In 2017, that number may become 13 as the Texas Legislature will consider a bill to remove the permit requirement to carry a handgun.
Last legislative session, Texas removed a longstanding ban on openly carrying a pistol in public, though open carry of rifles was permitted (I know, strange). The new law requires that anyone carrying openly have a valid carry permit. This caused many to be concerned about law-abiding citizens being harassed by police officers demanding that they produce their permit on demand if carrying openly.
The issue with permit-required open carry is that it subjects citizens who carry out their right to bear arms to a possible confrontation with police officers. Because officers know that a permit is required to carry openly, the natural reaction of the officers will be to approach said person and demand proof that he/she is carrying legally.
Hence, this kind of open carry law undermines the principle of innocent until proven guilty, and reverses that. You need to prove that you are not a criminal, versus the state having to prove that you are. It’s a very important principle of the justice system that should be applied to carrying out our fundamental rights, especially when it comes to bearing arms.
Fortunately, Texas will be considering altering its law once again, this time to remove the permit requirement altogether for open and concealed carry. Such a change will remove obstacles and fees to exercise a fundamental right.
House Bill 375 — authored by State Rep. Jonathan Stickland, R-Bedford — is known as “constitutional carry” and it would make the licensing process and classes to obtain a permit optional. The idea, according to Stickland, is that Texans shouldn’t be forced to take a course and pay a fee to exercise their Second Amendment rights. If passed, Texas would be the 11th state to allow constitutional carry.
A number of Texas Democrats oppose the proposal. State Rep. Donna Howard, D-Austin, a critic of both the campus carry and open carry laws, said constitutional carry “seems to be an unnecessary thing.”
And Moms Demand Action, a group that advocates for tighter gun control, will fight the constitutional carry proposal, according to a spokeswoman, Nicole Golden of Austin. Under Stickland’s bill, there would be no way to tell whether people carrying handguns in public have a permit or have been trained, she said.
“That obviously concerns those of us who live and raise our families in Texas,” said Golden, a mother of two.
Last session, the Legislature made Texas the 45th state to allow the open carry of handguns. Senate Bill 17 — which took effect in January 2016 — allows roughly 826,000 handgun license holders to openly carry their weapons in a hip or shoulder holster. Currently, Texans who choose to carry are required to have a permit. According to Stickland, however, this shouldn’t be the case.
Permit requirements for exercising the right to bear arms are an undue burden. They force a person to subject themselves to an invasive process that delves deep into their personal history, and treat that person as if he/she were a criminal. It puts the right to bear arms at the whim of the State, the opposite of what the Second Amendment guarantees.
By removing the permitting requirement, those who are the everyday law-abiding citizen will be able to protect themselves and their family at any given time, and will prevent the State from imposing undue fees, obstacles, and waiting periods to exercise that right.
Twelve other states have taken this step (with some variation in each state, Montana being one where no permit is required outside city limits), and there has not been the bloodbath predicted by the Left. In fact, there is no negative effect on crime rates in states that do not require a permit to carry a handgun. Such a change has a positive impact.
Crime does not wait for you to get your permit, or to pay your fees. It can happen at any time, and those waiting periods have caused tragedy in the past. Carol Bowne of New Jersey was a perfect example of that. While applying for a gun permit in New Jersey, and waiting for the permit process to complete so she could purchase a gun for protection from a dangerous ex-boyfriend, she was murdered in cold-blood.
This is why permits must not be mandated, because such things can happen without warning. Hopefully the Texas legislature seriously considers this, passes it, and Governor Abbott signs it into law, enabling more Texans to responsibly carry out their fundamental right to protect themselves and their families without undue government intrusion.