Raleigh, NC – A bill filed in the House last week, if approved, will open up the state to Constitutional carry, or being able to carry a concealed handgun without a Concealed Handgun Permit, if you meet certain criteria.
The oldest state to allow concealed carry of a firearm without a permit is Vermont, which has never placed any limits on a person’s ability to bear arms in a discreet manner since its inception in 1791.
Over the last 25 years another nine states have opened the doors to Constitutional carry including Montana in 1991, Alaska in 2003, Texas in 2007, Arizona in 2010, Wyoming in 2011, Arkansas in 2013, Kansas in 2015 and most recently Idaho and West Virginia.
And a common thread between all of these states is that, since the inception of Constitutional carry, not one of them has had blood running through the streets as many opposed to permitless carry predicted.
HB1148 would not only allow U.S. citizens, that otherwise meet the criteria under the law, to conceal a handgun in the state but would also put forth a referendum to the voters in November about whether or not they want to delete a sentence from the state Constitution that says, “Nothing herein shall justify the practice of carrying concealed weapons, or prevent the General Assembly from enacting penal statutes against that practice.”
This portion of the North Carolina Declaration of Rights, Article I of the state Constitution, is the tail-end of the state recognition of the right to bear arms, which reads in full as follows, “A well regulated militia being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed; and, as standing armies in time of peace are dangerous to liberty, they shall not be maintained, and the military shall be kept under strict subordination to, and governed by, the civil power. Nothing herein shall justify the practice of carrying concealed weapons, or prevent the General Assembly from enacting penal statutes against that practice.”
The section in question however does not harken back to 1776 when the first North Carolina Constitution was passed, or even 1868 when the second Constitution was drafted.
No, it was added into the Constitution in 1971 during the recodification of the state Constitution, a full 24 years before the state passed concealed carry permit laws.
Keep that in mind as pundits and political actors espouse the wisdom of our forefathers in banning concealed carry in the first place over the coming days.
The bill would also outline that property owners, specifically owners or controllers of properties that charge admission or serve alcohol would still be able to deny concealed carry in their businesses, but with the exception that it would not apply to a large group of privileged government workers including law enforcement officers, some courthouse employees, penal system employees and justice system employees, as well as some military personnel.
The law already makes exceptions for many of those listed in the bill but would expand the net to catch more people within government.
The timing of the filing coincides with a federal appellate court decision in California ruling that said “the right of a member of the general public to carry a concealed firearm in public is not, and never has been, protected by the Second Amendment.”
The 7-4 decision ruled that any “prohibition or restriction a state may choose to impose on concealed carry” is permissible, which would include as it says, prohibition on concealed carry.
In a time when courts are rewriting the Second Amendment to pave the way for banning the carry of firearms, especially in states like California where open carry is illegal, it is nice to see some taking a stand to expand carry rights in this state.