By: José Niño
Few political battles have been as successful for gun owners as the fight to pass Constitutional Carry. In the past month, Utah and Montana became the 17th and 18th Constitutional Carry states in America, respectively.
To put this in perspective, there were only two states where lawful citizens could carry a firearm without a permit before Arizona passed the law in 2010. Now, almost 40 percent of the nation has some form of carry without a permit law on the books.
The Constitutional Carry movement has been gaining momentum. Louisiana, Tennessee, Texas, and Indiana are currently considering their own Constitutional Carry bills. Undoubtedly, there is plenty of movement on this issue, and the Right would be wise to recognize that.
Broadly speaking, the right to carry has witnessed marked legislative improvements over the past 40 years; however, prior to the establishment of licensed carry requirements in states across the nation throughout the 1980s, many states had no concept of legal carry. If they did, it was heavily restricted. Vermont was the sole exception to the rule, with its idiosyncratic permitless carry that was the product of a State Supreme Court decision in 1903. The 1980s changed that paradigm, when grassroots Second Amendment organizations began pushing for licensed concealed carry.
At the time, gun policy at the federal level remained stagnant. In fact, during the New Deal and Great Society, the state gradually chipped away at the right to bear arms. Gun owners quickly realized how difficult it would be to change D.C.’s ways, so instead, they focused on getting their own legislative backyards in order.
After recognizing that the licensed carry movement was a big winner, gun rights activists were able to build enough energy to make some forms of licensed carry a reality nationwide. In the background of this movement was a budding Constitutional Carry push. Before 2010, the only other state apart from Vermont to have permitless carry was Alaska, which scrapped its licensing requirements in 2003.
The movement remain dormant until 2010, when Arizona passed Constitutional Carry. From there, Constitutional Carry took off and could reach more than 20 states by 2024. We are likely witnessing the most successful grassroots right-wing movements in recent memory. It represents a genuine revolt from gun owners who have lost confidence in the legislative establishment.
The success we see with Constitutional Carry is the product of indefatigable activism from grassroots Second Amendment organizations who do not seek approval from the ruling class or establishment consultants within the Republican Party. They listen to what frustrated Middle Americans want and apply proven political strategies to realize their legislative goals.
In light of these developments, an attainable goal for the Second Amendment community is for organizations in this space to shift their efforts in making all red states Constitutional Carry states. Given the level of polarization in the country at present, Second Amendment activists have a target-rich environment to take advantage of. Many red states, which have become incredibly alienated by leftist overreach coming from the federal level, will become increasingly receptive towards common sense proposals, such as Constitutional Carry.
Some people may lament the level of political polarization present in America, but this time is one of the best opportunities for gun owners to flex their muscles. One man’s chaos is another man’s opportunity.
The current success of Constitutional Carry shows that anything is possible when activists put their heads down and use effective strategies to turn the tables on the petty despots at all levels of government.
2021 is already looking like a promising year for Second Amendment activity at the state level. Let’s make the most of it.
José Niño is a freelance writer based in Austin, Texas. Sign up for his mailing list here. Contact him via Facebook, Twitter, or email him at email@example.com. Get his e-book, The 10 Myths of Gun Control, here.