Saturday, April 20, 2013

Evil Secrets - Concealed Carry Of A Handgun

By Dave Dargo

The carrying of loaded handguns in public is an area fraught with legal issues.  Before you decide to carry a gun in public you need to be very familiar with the laws in the area in which you plan to carry.  This blog is not the place for you to get such legal advice.

Why does one need a permit to carry a concealed handgun in public?

That question may seem strange to many of you.  You may wonder why one is permitted to carry a handgun in public at all.  You may think, well, of course someone should have the government's permission in order to carry a gun in public.  Others, like myself, wonder why any kind of permit is needed in order to exercise a fundamental right.  However, both permitting and the concealed carrying of guns are fairly modern concepts.

I'm going to ignore my birthplace, Washington, D.C. for the moment as they prohibit all forms of carry of firearms and I'm going to talk about the 50 states.

Seven states prohibit the open-carry of loaded firearms.  This means that 43 states allow people to walk down the public fair while carrying a loaded handgun exposed on their hip.  Though some require a license there are 29 states that allow anyone who is legally permitted to own a handgun to openly carry that handgun, loaded, in public.  Local cultural influences may make it unusual and some people may frown upon it but it is permitted.  I often openly carry a handgun in many of the states I visit.

There are 49 states that allow the concealed carry of a handgun with a permit and the remaining state, Illinois, is under Federal Court order to change their laws to allow some form of carrying a handgun.

It's not easy following all the state laws but some web sites attempt to make it easier.

The reason a permit has traditionally been needed in order to carry a handgun in a concealed manner is because it was thought that concealing a gun was an evil practice that only a dishonest man or an assassin would do.  It was accepted that an honest and honorable person would carry their handgun openly.  For this reason, though no permission was required to openly carry a handgun a permit was required in order to carry a handgun concealed.  A permit was a demonstration that showed the person carrying the concealed gun was actually an honest person who had undergone some level of government vetting.

Over time, however, some people in society became uncomfortable seeing handguns.  Many of these people felt that society had evolved and that bearing arms was no longer necessary.  Many jurisdictions then banned the open display of a handgun leaving concealed as the only manner in which to bear a handgun.  State's still required a permit in order to carry concealed and many people didn't bother to go through the difficult government process of obtaining a permit.  Carrying a handgun in a concealed manner was still considered an act that required governmental permission.

Then, "shall-issue" became the norm.  Shall-issue states are those states that will issue a permit to carry a concealed handgun to anyone who applies as long as that person is not prohibited from owning a handgun.  Most states are shall-issue today, meaning that an adult in good legal stead is permitted to obtain a permit to carry a concealed handgun.

Some states, recognizing that concealed carry of a handgun is no longer a questionable practice have eliminated the need for permits altogether.  There are 4 states that allow the carrying of a handgun in any manner, openly or concealed, by anyone who is legally permitted to own a handgun with no permit required.

An interesting legal case that discusses the "evil" nature of concealed carry of a handgun took place in 1840 in Alabama.  The case is The State v. Reid and makes an interesting read for those wanting to understand the thought process that enveloped the early jurisprudence regarding the carrying of a handgun.

Coming up next I'll discuss the pros and cons of open vs. concealed carry.  Though I will warn you that it's just as useful to discuss vanilla vs. chocolate ice cream.

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