Constitutional Carry is the removal of restrictions on the carry of handguns in most public places. It restores the state of the law to a close approximation of the law as it existed when the Constitution was signed or the Bill of Rights ratified. At that time, no permits were required to carry handguns either concealed or openly.
The restoration of Constitutional Carry is scheduled to go into effect in Oklahoma on 1 November 2019.
Constitutional Carry has been restored in 14 other states over the last 16 years. Vermont has always had Constitutional Carry. There has not been an increase in homicide or violent crime in the states that have restored Constitutional Carry.
The opponents of Constitutional Carry in Oklahoma filed a lawsuit against the implementation of the law. The lawsuit claims the law violated the Oklahoma Constitutional requirement for each law to address a single subject. Second Amendment supporters have characterized the lawsuit as a “Hail Mary” pass, unlikely to succeed.
The lawsuit includes allegations that Constitutional Carry in Oklahoma would be dangerous.
Constitutional issues are not about policy differences, or they should not be. Policy issues are to be decided in the legislative process. Courts are not supposed to be super-legislators.
Here is a summation of the policy arguments made by those opposed to Constitutional Carry in Oklahoma. From kpvi.com:
The suit alleges that states which enacted permitless carry laws have seen “a significant increase in firearm-related deaths.”
Kay Malan of Bixby is a volunteer with Moms Demand Action.
“When you remove the basic training requirements for the handling of a firearm and also remove the requirement to have a fingerprint and background check in your state, that is leaving it open for guns to fall into the hands of the wrong people,” she said. “As it is, we have a gun violence problem. Part of the gun violence problem is fueled by people who get guns illegally.
“All this will do is make it even easier for them.”
On the surface, this appears to contradict the statement that homicide or violent crime has not increased in states where Constitutional Carry has been restored.
There is no contradiction. It is clever sophistry of those opposing Constitutional Carry. Those opposing Constitutional Carry do *not* say homicide or violent crime increased. They say:
“states which enacted permitless carry laws have seen “a significant increase in firearm-related deaths.”
There is no contradiction: “firearm-related deaths” includes suicides. Over the last 20 years, the number of suicides and the suicide rate in the United States have soared. While the percentage of suicides committed with guns has fallen, the increase in the overall suicide rate has been enough so the number of people committing suicide with guns has increased, and increased enough to override the reduction in homicide with guns.
Thus “firearm-related deaths” have risen in states where Constitutional Carry has been restored, because the number of suicides committed with firearms has increased along with the overall suicide numbers. From 1999 to 2014, the number of suicides increased by 46%, while homicides decreased by 6%. Suicide with firearms are two-thirds of all “firearms-related deaths”.
It is hard to see how Constitutional Carry is related to an increase in suicide, especially as the percentage of suicides committed with firearms has dropped, even though the absolute numbers have increased. Suicides have risen all over the United States.
The next bit of sophistry is the conflation of the legal ability to carry a firearm with the legal ability to possess a firearm. The Oklahoma Constitutional Carry law does not change who is legally allowed to possess firearms.
“When you remove the basic training requirements for the handling of a firearm and also remove the requirement to have a fingerprint and background check in your state, that is leaving it open for guns to fall into the hands of the wrong people,”
How does that work? The legal requirements for possession will not have changed. There have not been, and are not, any requirements for training to possess a firearm in Oklahoma. No fingerprint checks are required to possess a firearm in Oklahoma. The requirements for background checks to purchase firearms will not have changed.
The only changes will be about carrying firearms, not possessing them. If a person is not able to legally possess a firearm, they will continue to be unable to legally carry firearms.
One of the most basic claims of those who want a disarmed population is that legal gun ownership has an effect on illegal gun ownership. It sounds reasonable, as an abstract theory.
“As it is, we have a gun violence problem. Part of the gun violence problem is fueled by people who get guns illegally.
“All this will do is make it even easier for them.”
The term “gun violence” is an Orwellian propaganda term. It is used to conflate several different things; suicide, homicide, justifiable homicide, homicide by police, and fatal firearms accidents, all together. All those things have different causes and dynamics. The purpose of the term “gun violence” is to conflate them and focus on the gun, thus implying the solution to all of them is more restrictions on gun ownership and use. It is not true. All of those things require different strategies to have a significant effect. Concentrating on guns does not solve those issues. It very likely removes emphasis from policies that can have a real effect.
More legal guns do not necessarily result in more illegal guns, nor do more illegal guns necessarily result in more criminal violence. The number of guns involved in violent crime in any given year is a minuscule percentage of guns in the United States. Even if each gun used in violent crime were used only once, that would be about 300,000 guns involved in violent crime in a year. There are over 400 million guns in the United States or about 1,330 legal guns for each violent crime committed with a gun each year.
But criminals use guns to commit more than one crime; guns are commonly traded, rented, and borrowed among criminals. It is more likely one gun is used for 10 crimes in a given year before it is confiscated. That would mean there are 13,300 legal guns for each gun used in a violent crime each year. In the United States, illegal guns are a minuscule percentage of legal guns.
Nor are criminals limited to obtaining guns from the legal stock. In places where legal guns are hard to obtain, criminals make their own guns. A recent report out of California claimed that homemade guns accounted for 30% of guns confiscated there. In some countries, the percentage is higher.
Guns are essentially 15th-century technology and are easily made in small workshops.
When we look at legally owned guns, illegally owned guns, and homicide rates in China, India, Brazil, and the United States, there is no correlation between numbers of legal guns, numbers of illegal guns, and homicide rates. All four countries are large, diverse, multi-ethnic entities.
In Brazil, over 50% of the guns in society are illegally owned. Brazil has a homicide rate about six times that of the United States, with less than 7% percent of the number of guns in society per person.
Many of those who wish the population disarmed operate from a simplistic, childish perspective.
The thinking is something like this:
“People with guns do bad things.
If there were no guns, people could not do bad things with guns.
Make the guns go away, and the bad things will not happen.
How many times have you heard “If there were no guns…”?
Making guns hard to legally own and use does not reduce the homicide rate. It does not reduce the number of guns owned illegally. It creates incentives for illegal gun manufacture and a black market in guns and ammunition.
The hard evidence, from 160 years of highly restrictive gun control laws, is they do not affect the murder rate or the number or rate of illegally owned guns. Governments have not been able to confiscate illegally owned guns faster than people are able to make, buy, steal or smuggle guns to add to the illegal stockpile.
If facts supported the arguments of those who wish the population disarmed, they would not be forced to mislead.
About Dean Weingarten:
Dean Weingarten has been a peace officer, a military officer, was on the University of Wisconsin Pistol Team for four years, and was first certified to teach firearms safety in 1973. He taught the Arizona concealed carry course for fifteen years until the goal of constitutional carry was attained. He has degrees in meteorology and mining engineering, and recently retired from the Department of Defense after a 30 year career in Army Research, Development, Testing, and Evaluation.