In the United States, the phrase “constitutional carry” means that someone can carry a handgun without a license or permit. The term was derived from the Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, which gives citizens the right to bear arms. There are currently 12 Constitutional Carry states in the U.S. and three states that have permitless carry for residents only.
In these states, any person that is of legal age and is not otherwise prohibited from carrying a firearm can do so without a permit. In the states of Idaho, North Dakota, and Wyoming, permitless carry is only allowed for residents. All non-residents must have a permit to carry a concealed handgun. Concealed and open carry do not require a permit for any of the states mentioned above except North Dakota and some localities in the state of Missouri.
Texas’s Constitution Carry bill had entered the Texas Legislature early in 2019 as House Bill 357. The author of the bill, Rep. Jonathan Strickland, withdrew the legislation after a pro-gun activist showed up at lawmakers’ homes in order to advocate for it. The activist was seen as intimidating lawmakers, and Strickland stated that he did not want those types of tactics to influence the legislative process.
Indiana does not have Constitutional Carry. Indiana passed gun reform legislation in 2019 that creates immunity from civil action when justifiable self-defense is raised; eliminates the fee for a five-year license; reduces the lifetime license fee from $175 to $125; removes the restriction on the legal carry of firearms in places of worship on school properties; and requires that law enforcement officer to check local state and federal criminal history data banks.
Ohio Constitutional Carry bill was voted to advance in the Ohio House on July 24, 2019, sending the bill to another committee for review. House Bill 178 would allow anyone 21 and older to carry any concealed deadly weapon unless legally barred from owning a firearm. The bill passed, unfortunately, the week before the fatal mass shooting in Dayton. Police agencies across the state also oppose the bill.
Missouri’s Constitutional Carry became law on January 1, 2017. Residents who wish to purchase guns need to pass a background check, but it is relatively brief and not as extensive as the one previously used for concealed carry permits. Missouri became the 11th state to pass Constitutional Carry.
Oklahoma is the country’s newest Constitutional carry state. House Bill 2597 allows residents 21 and older to carry a firearm in public without a permit and allows military personnel or veterans 18 and older to carry without a permit. The bill was approved in the state Senate on February 27, 2019, and Governor Kevin Stitt signed the bill the same day. Constitutional Carry became law in Oklahoma on November 1, 2019.
Some U.S. states have a limited form of concealed carry without a permit. These states are as follows:
- New Mexico
In the state of Illinois, a permit is not required to carry a handgun that is unloaded and fully enclosed. In New Mexico, it is legal to carry a loaded, concealed weapon while traveling in a vehicle, including cars, motorcycles, bicycles, and on horseback. In Oklahoma, legal residents of states that allow concealed carry without a permit can carry a weapon without a permit in the state provided they meet all legal requirements for permitless carry in their state and have a valid photo I.D.
Montana does not quite make the cut for Constitutional Carry because it authorizes people to carry without a permit in restricted non-populated areas in Montana.
Arkansas is another state that is close to Constitutional Carry but falls short. The law says that no permit is required to carry when a person is traveling outside of his or her home county or as long as that person is not carrying with intent to unlawfully employ as a weapon against another person.