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John Odermatt

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March 29, 3025

Second Amendment supporters use the term constitutional carry when referring to the right to carry handguns without the requirement of a government permit. The phrase reflects the view that the Constitution is the law of the land, therefore states do not have the right to pass laws that violate the natural rights protected by the Constitution, and in this case the Second Amendment.

Currently, five states require no permit whatsoever for concealed carry of a handgun in public. The five states, which will be referred to as the Fab Five henceforth in this article, are Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, Wyoming and Vermont. Vermont has never had a requirement in place necessitating a permit to carry a concealed handgun. The other four states have gone permit-free in the last twelve years. Arkansas was the most recent state to make the move in 2013, preceded by Wyoming in 2011, Arizona in 2010, and Alaska in 2003.

It looks like 2015 could be a big year for increasing the footprint of states that allow constitutional carry. Four states have legislation that appears favorable to be signed into law this year. The four states looking to undo previous requirements for concealed carry are Kansas, New Hampshire, West Virginia, and Maine.

The state Senate in Kansas approved a bill last month that would make it legal to carry a concealed firearm without a permit. Just this week the House inched closer to following suit, as the House Federal and State Affair Committee endorsed the measure with a voice vote. The bill would allow Kansas residents twenty-one or older who can legally own a firearm – including a handgun, rifle, or shotgun – to carry it concealed. The legislation will move to the full chamber for debate next.

The state Senate in New Hampshire passed SB116 on a 14-9 party line vote in mid-February. Once the House version, HB582, comes out of committee it will go to a vote. In 2014, New Hampshire Republicans took back the House, so the measure appears likely to pass. But the concealed carry legislation could be blocked in the Granite State by Gov. Maggie Hassan (D). The Republicans do not have a veto-proof majority in either chamber, so the Governor could certainly ruin plans to legalize the Second Amendment in New Hampshire.

West Virginia appears to be the closest of the four states to having a law signed that removes the requirement for concealed handgun permits. Last week, the House of Delegates voted 71-29 to drop the concealed carry permit requirements. This came on the footsteps of the Senate’s approval of a similar bill in late February. The main difference between the House and Senate version is a stipulation in the House version that requires people who carry concealed handgun to be twenty-one, or if they serve in the military, eighteen-years-old. The biggest question mark remaining is the uncertainty surrounding Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin’s signing of the bill. He has been very ambiguous on the topic, but it may not matter in the end because the votes appear to be there to overturn a veto in both the House and Senate.

In recent weeks, Maine has made some significant strides towards enabling constitutional carry. State Senator Eric Brakey already has ninety-six co-sponsor for a bill that would make concealed carry without a permit legal. Brakey calls it a moderate proposal and says, “it allows law-abiding citizens who are already legally eligible to carry a visible handgun to also carry a concealed handgun.” As of publishing time a hearing for the bill has not yet been scheduled, but with so much bi-partisan support the path to approval looks promising.

As I’ve said many times on the pages of this website, I am proud to support the Second Amendment. However, the ideals that led to the drafting of the Second Amendment are paramount to the law itself. The Constitution was intended to protect the masses from a coercive government that violates individual rights. Obviously, the Constitution is not doing a very good job of this. The founders likely did not intend for government to be permitted to use force to tell individuals when, where, and how they are permitted to use firearms. But it has happened anyway, not because the Second Amendment is flawed, but because individuals do not have a basic understand of individual rights. The stories of states beginning to fight to regain these rights can only be interpreted as good news in the quest to educate other on the importance of individual rights.

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