Florida is debating whether to join states like Vermont, Arizona, Maine, New Hampshire, Indiana, Texas, and Utah, and become the 26th state to allow its citizens to carry firearms without a government permit. Since criminals and mass shooters tend to ignore paperwork, the law is a reasonable way to ensure lawful Floridians are able to defend themselves and their communities.
The outrage over the permitless carry bill is, as one expects, already hysterical, emotional, and largely fact-free. Read this column from the perpetually confused Wajahat Ali, who stresses the dangers of permitless carry by pointing to incidents that are wholly unrelated to the prospective law. Or take the Newtown Action Alliance, which argues that “constitutional carry” — the term Second Amendment advocates often use to describe permitless carry — isn’t a real thing because the “constitution didn’t give anyone the right to carry guns publicly without permits, background checks, or training.”
First off, “constitutional carry” doesn’t affect “background checks” in any way. All Floridians who purchase a gun, whether they plan to carry the firearm or not, fill out the same NICS forms and are subjected to the same criminal checks. Newtown knows this, but as with the “universal background check” canard, the claim is meant to create the perception that mass murderers would be allowed to stroll into Wal-Marts and pick up their machine guns without any FBI check.
Also, yes, the Second Amendment specifically protects the right of Americans to “carry” a gun. You remember the part that says “to keep and bear Arms”? Until the dictionary is changed to comport with contemporary leftist rhetoric on the issue (and I suppose if it can ignore objective reality and redefine “woman,” why not?) one of the definitions of “bear” is to “carry someone or something.” Of course, even if Cambridge Dictionary edited the entry for “bear” tomorrow, the meaning of the word was well established in Samuel Johnson’s widely used dictionary in the late 1700s.
History tells us that the founders would likely have found the notion of citizens being compelled to ask the state for permission to carry an authoritarian infringement on liberty. It wasn’t until the early 20th century, even before the invention of the “collective rights” theory, that racists and corrupt politicians in Tammany Hall and elsewhere began embracing gun restrictions to keep people in check. Contra anti-gun activists like Adam Winkler, who distorts the history of towns like Dodge City, men only voluntarily and temporarily handed over their firearms to visit red-light districts in the Old West. They did not need permits or permission to carry.
Dick Heller, by the way, took his famous case to court because D.C. had restricted him from carrying a firearm to and from his job as a security guard. The Heller decision itself found that the Second Amendment “guarantee[s] the individual right to possess and carry weapons in case of confrontation.” The word “carry” makes 70 appearances.
Then again, I’m unsure if gun controllers really care or know how the law works. “There is absolutely NO legal basis for American citizens to carry weapons with NO permit NO license and NO training,” tweeted Debbie Mucarsel-Powell, a senior adviser to the anti-gun group Giffords. What does this even mean? The “legal basis” for Florida’s permitless carry bill is the will of the people via the legislature and the governor. The right of gun ownership, including the right to carry, is already protected, not given to us by the state. Legislators don’t need any “legal basis” to liberalize constitutional rights, they only need a “legal basis” to restrict them.
In numerous states, unconstitutional “may issue” laws empower local politicians to arbitrarily use “discretion” to deny lawful citizens carry permits. In 2022, in New York State Rifle and Pistol Association v. Bruen, the Supreme Court found that the state had violated the 14th Amendment by preventing citizens from exercising their “Second Amendment right to keep and bear arms in public for self-defense” and noted that nothing “in the Second Amendment’s text draws a home/public distinction with respect to the right to keep and bear arms, and the definition of ‘bear’ naturally encompasses public carry” (italics mine).
The 25 states that have already passed permitless carry laws have experienced no negative changes. Not even the RAND Corporation could find evidence that gun reforms had altered crime rates. The study mirrors others going back to at least 2004. The real problem for Newtown and Giffords is that allowing citizens to legally carry not only threatens to demystify ownership but also debunks their scaremongering on the ground. They want to make firearms harder to own. Not only for criminals. For everyone.