HARRISBURG, Pa. (Nov. 10, 2021) – Yesterday, the Pennsylvania Senate passed a “constitutional carry” bill that would make it legal for people in the state to carry a firearm – concealed or open – without a permit. Passage of this legislation would also create an environment hostile to federal gun control.
Sen. Cris Dush (R) and a coalition of 19 Republicans introduced Senate Bill 565 (SB565) last April. The legislation would repeal current law requiring a state-issued license to carry a concealed firearm. Under the proposed law, “every person present in this Commonwealth WHO IS NOT PROHIBITED FROM POSSESSING FIREARMS UNDER FEDERAL LAW OR THE LAWS OF THIS COMMONWEALTH shall have an affirmative, fundamental and constitutional right to keep and bear firearms, including the right to carry openly or concealed, carry loaded or unloaded, train with, transport, possess, use, acquire, purchase, transfer, inherit, buy, sell, give or otherwise dispose of or receive any firearm.”
The state’s concealed carry permitting program would continue for those wanting a permit to carry in a state with CCDW permit reciprocity with Pennsylvania.
On Nov. 9, the Senate passed SB565 by a 29-21 vote.
EFFECT ON FEDERAL GUN CONTROL
While permitless carry bills do not directly affect federal gun control, the widespread passage of permitless conceal carry laws in states subtly undermines federal efforts to regulate guns. As we’ve seen with marijuana and industrial hemp, a federal regulation becomes ineffective when states ignore it and pass laws encouraging the prohibited activity anyway.
The federal government lacks the enforcement power necessary to maintain its ban, and people will willingly take on the small risk of federal sanctions if they know the state will not interfere. This increases when the state actively encourages “the market.”
Less restrictive state gun laws will likely have a similar impact on federal gun laws. It will make it that much more difficult for the feds to enforce any future federal gun control, and increase the likelihood that states with few limits will simply refuse to cooperate with federal enforcement efforts.
State actions such as passing “constitutional carry” lower barriers for those wanting the option of defending themselves with firearms and encourage a “gun-friendly” environment that would make federal efforts to limit firearms that much more difficult.
SB565 will move to the House. At the time of this report, it had not received a committee assignment. Once it is referred to a House committee, it must pass by a majority vote before moving forward in the legislative process.