HARRISBURG, Pa. (Dec. 13, 2021) – Earlier this month Gov. Tom Wolf vetoed a “constitutional carry” bill that would have made it legal for people in the state to carry a firearm – concealed or open – without a permit. Passage of this legislation would have also created 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 The legislation would have repealed current law requiring a state-issued license to carry a concealed firearm.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 have continued for those wanting a permit to carry in a state with CCDW permit reciprocity with Pennsylvania.
The bill passed out of the Senate on Nov. 9 with a 29-21 vote, and after passing the House by a 107-92 vote on the 17th, it was sent to Governor Tom Wolf’s office where it was unfortunately vetoed. The governor opined that permitless carry reform would;
“only exacerbate gun violence and jeopardize the safety of all Pennsylvanians.”
There are not enough votes to override the governor’s veto.
Powerful Pennsylvania police lobbies also opposed the measure. According to the governor’s veto message, the Pennsylvania Chiefs of Police Association and the Pennsylvania District Attorneys Association both oppose this legislation and there were no law enforcement organizations in Pennsylvania that supported the bill.
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.
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