The Creeping Loosening of Concealed-Carry Laws

December 30, 2011Noah Baron
The New York Times published a graphic earlier this week depicting the change in state and D.C. gun permit laws over the past three decades. In 1981, 18 states and the District of Columbia refused to issue any concealed carry permits; 29 states reserved the right to review permit applications on a case-by-case basis; only two states required the issuance of a concealed carry permit if someone met certain criteria; and only one state didn’t require a permit at all.
It’s now 30 years later: Only one state (Illinois) and the District of Columbia still prohibit individuals from carrying concealed weapons, and only 10 states—nearly one-third of the 1981 number—still reserve the right to use discretion in issuing permits. Meanwhile, the largest change has occurred in the third category, often known as the “shall issue” category because those states “shall” (i.e. must) issue a permit if the applicant meets the specified criteria; as of 2011, 34 states are “shall issue” states, compared to only two in 1981. Also as of 2011, four states (up from the one state in 1981) now do not require a permit at all. In recent months, Republicans were able to force legislation through the House that would allow residents of one state to force other states to recognize their concealed carry permits. This law effectively nullifies the ability of each state to regulate who is able to carry a concealed weapon— it is especially problematic for Illinois and Washington, D.C., which have decided not to allow concealed carry altogether. (You can read more about the legislation here.) Does this bill spell the end of “no concealed-carry” state? If the trend illustrated in the New York Times graphic continues, we could be looking at a drastically different landscape of concealed carry permit availability 30 years from now, regardless of whether this bill moves forward in the Senate or becomes law. Image courtesy of The New York Times.

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