Half of the states in the Union now have permitless carry.

Last week, Georgia became the 25th state to implement a permitless carry law. Governors in Alabama, Indiana and Ohio have also signed so-called “constitutional carry” bills during this legislative session. These laws allow people otherwise legally able to possess a firearm to carry concealed without a permit from the state.

The enactment of permitless carry laws not only loosens restrictions on gun owners within the state, but it also creates an environment more hostile to federal gun control.

Passage of permitless carry laws has not been without challenges. Law enforcement has opposed permitless carry everyplace it has been introduced. For instance, in Alabama, Mobile Sheriff Sam Cochran fired Rep. Shane Stringer after he introduced permitless carry in the legislature.

“The Second Amendment gun rights of Alabamians are under attack from a liberal federal government that is out of control and even from some factions right here at home,” Stringer said. “After dedicating my life and career to law enforcement, losing a job because I stand in support of Alabama gun owners is certainly surprising, but nothing will discourage me from defending the constitutional guarantees promised to all of us as American citizens.”

In Ohio, Republican Senate Judiciary Committee Chairwoman Liz Brown repeatedly tried to derail and gut the permitless carry bill, according to the Firearms Policy Commission.

Opponents of permitless carry often sight safety concerns. As Reason points out, there isn’t a lot of data, but a 2018 American College of Surgeons study found “no statistically significant association between the liberalization of state-level firearm carry legislation over the last 30 years and the rates of homicides or other violent crime.”

In effect, concealed carry permits give cops “veto power” over whether or not you can carry a gun. Reason correctly points out that firearm permits “don’t really jibe with the right to bear arms (and also seem likely to result in discriminatory enforcement). ‘If you have to ask permission, it’s a privilege, not a right,’ as J.D. Tuccille says.”


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.

Mike Maharrey

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