Concealed Carry. Net: The Ultimate Guide to Concealed Carry Permits and Other Hidden Weapons

Concealed Carry Information by State

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State Concealed Carry Laws Directory – Choose your State


History of Concealed Carry Permits

Concealed Carry has had to some degree a checkered past in the U.S. while open carry on has had a long tradition.  The first court choice we know mindful of as to concede carry is Kentucky’s 1822 Bliss v. Ward in which the prosecutor, Bliss, was sentenced for having a sword-cane defying Kentucky’s laws limiting disguised carrying of weapons “unless while going on a journey.”  He appealed arguing that the Kentucky constitution stated “the right of the  citizen to bear arms in defense of themselves and the state shall not be  questioned.”  The court’s verdict said:

That the provisions of the act in question do not import an entire  destruction of the right of the citizens to bear arms in defence of  themselves and the state, will not be controverted by the court; for  though the citizens are forbid wearing weapons concealed in the manner  described in the act, they may, nevertheless, bear arms in any other  admissible form.  But to be in conflict with the constitution, it is not  essential that the act should contain a prohibition against bearing  arms in every possible form; it is the right to bear arms in defence of  the citizens and the state, that is secured by the constitution, and  whatever restraint the full and complete exercise of that right, though  not an entire destruction of it, is forbidden by the explicit language  of the constitution.

If, therefore, the act in question imposes any restraint on the right,  immaterial what appellation may be given to the act, whether it be an  act regulating the manner of bearing arms or any other, the consequence,  in reference to the constitution, is precisely the same, and its  collision with that instrument equally obvious.

And can there be entertained a reasonable doubt but the provisions of  the act import a restraint on the right of the citizens to bear arms?  The court apprehends not.  The right existed at the adoption of the  constitution; it had then no limits short of the moral power of the  citizens to exercise it, and it in fact consisted in nothing else but in  the liberty of the citizens to bear arms.  Diminish that liberty,  therefore, and you necessarily restrain the right; and such is the  diminution and restraint, which the act in question most indisputably  imports, by prohibiting the citizens wearing weapons in a manner which  was lawful to wear them when the constitution was adopted.  In truth,  the right of the citizens to bear arms, has been as directly assailed by  the provisions of the act, as though they were forbid carrying guns on  their shoulders, swords in scabbards, or when in conflict with an enemy,  were not allowed the use of bayonets; and if the act be consistent with  the constitution, it cannot be incompatible with that instrument for  the legislature, by successive enactments, to entirely cut off the  exercise of the right of the citizens to bear arms.  For in principle,  there is no difference between a law prohibiting the wearing concealed  arms, and a law forbidding the wearing such as are exposed; and if the  former be unconstitutional, the latter must be so likewise.

Basically, they found in his favor.  Kentucky passed a “Shall Issue” concealed carry law in 1826.

Before the passing of the Fourteenth Amendment in 1868, the Bill of Rights was legitimately held as a restriction upon just the FEDERAL government.  States were allowed to do as they saw fit.  Indiana definitely did.   Their Constitution still states today “The people shall have a right to bear arms, for the defense of themselves and the State,” wording not extremely far from Kentucky’s.  But in 1831 the state passed a statute like Kentucky’s: “That  every person, not being a traveller, who shall wear or carry any dirk,  pistol, sword in a sword-cane, or other dangerous weapon concealed shall  upon conviction thereof, be fined in any sum not exceeding one hundred  dollars.”  This was challenged in State v. Mitchell in 1833.  Mitchell was a defendant charged under this law but who appealed his case up to the state Supreme Court.  That court’s whole decision  analyzes:

It was held in this case, that the statute of 1831, prohibiting all persons, except travelers, from wearing or carrying concealed weapons, is not unconstitutional.

Indiana passed a “shall issue” concealed carry law in 1980.

In any case, even the pre-Civil War Supreme Court acknowledged what the Second Amendment secured when they decided on Scott v. Sanford in 1857.  That court, in picking whether the slave of an Army officer was or was not a liberated individual when he was taken by that officer into a “free” state, picked that not just was Scott not free, neither he nor whatever other individual – free or slave – could be a United States national in light of the way that:

…if they were so received, and entitled to the privileges and immunities  of citizens, it would exempt them from the operation of the special laws  and from the police regulations which they considered to be necessary  for their own safety. It would give to persons of the negro race, who  were recognised as citizens in any one State of the Union, the right to  enter every other State whenever they pleased, singly or in companies,  without pass or passport, and without obstruction, to sojourn there as  long as they pleased, to go where they pleased at every hour of the day  or night without molestation, unless they committed some violation of  law for which a white man would be punished; and it would give them the  full liberty of speech in public and in private upon all subjects upon  which its own citizens might speak; to hold public meetings upon  political affairs, and to keep and carry arms wherever they went.  And all of this would be done in the face of the subject race of the  same color, both free and slaves, and inevitably producing discontent  and insubordination among them, and endangering the peace and safety of  the State.

Carrying concealed weapons was, then, considered as something done by wrongdoers, not by honest law abiding men.  Honest men carried their weapons openly.

Note in that decision the warning of “the operation of the special laws and from the police regulations which they considered to be necessary for their own safety.” 

Their own specific safety.  Right.

As Ninth Circuit Judge, Alex Kozinski place it in one of his more known dissents:

Disarmament was the tool of choice for subjugating both slaves and free  blacks in the South. In Florida, patrols searched blacks’ homes for  weapons, confiscated those found and punished their owners without  judicial process. In the North, by contrast, blacks exercised their  right to bear arms to defend against racial mob violence. As Chief  Justice Taney well appreciated, the institution of slavery required a  class of people who lacked the means to resist. See Dred Scott v. Sandford,  60 U.S. (19 How.) 393, 417 (1857) (finding black citizenship  unthinkable because it would give blacks the right to “keep and carry  arms wherever they went”). A revolt by Nat Turner and a few dozen other  armed blacks could be put down without much difficulty; one by four  million armed blacks would have meant big trouble.

So in our early history, concealed carry was detested, however open carry was accepted.  As time advanced, and we drew closer the Civil War and its result, laws were kept running with the plan of incapacitating “those individuals” – blameworthy gatherings, troublemakers, and – particularly – blacks.  As the nation wound up being more “acculturated,” the open carriage of arms reduced, and the laws needed to keep those individuals disabled were connected with more general groups.  New York’s 1911 Sullivan Act has been held up as an example of a law designed to destroy one class or race without hurting others.  One of the best occasion of “specific essential” starts from a Florida court choice in 1941 – Watson v. Stone.  One of the agreeing jumade in light of current circumstances said:

I know something of the history of this legislation. The original Act of  1893 was passed when there was a great influx of negro laborers in this  State drawn here for the purpose of working in turpentine and lumber  camps…. [T]he Act was passed for the purpose of disarming the negro  laborers and to thereby reduce the unlawful homicides that were  prevalent in turpentine and saw-mill camps and to give the white  citizens in sparsely settled areas a better feeling of security. The  statute was never intended to be applied to the white population….  [I]t is a safe guess to assume that more than 80% of the white men  living in the rural sections of Florida have violated this statute….  [T]here has never been, within my knowledge, any effort to enforce the  provisions of this statute as to white people, because it has been  generally conceded to be in contravention of the Constitution and  non-enforceable if contested.

Many states wrote laws against concealed-carry, but did not have laws against open carry.  Arizona is one, though now Arizona is a “constitutional carry” state, requiring no permit at all. 

The carriage of arms openly has faded over time as the country went from frontier to “civilized.”  From a social standpoint, concealed carry has gone from something socially unacceptable (except “while traveling”) to something done to prevent people from having the vapors from seeing someone not a government employee carrying a firearm.  From a legal standpoint, the early stigma associated with concealed-carry has resulted in a series of precedents making permitting of said carry acceptable, but open carry not.  It has been an evolution without a precise date of demarcation, but this graphic illustrates the trend since 1986 very well:

You can understand the interest in concealed-carry legislation given the skyrocketing homicide rates beginning in the mid-60’s.  People didn’t like being disarmed by a government that simply could not protect them.  It took quite a while to overcome the legal inertia, but once Florida passed its law in 1987 and the promised “blood in the streets” and “shootouts over fender benders” not only did not occur, but homicide rates along with other violent crime declined at a faster rate there than the rest of the nation, other states followed its lead.  The latest data for the U.S. puts the homicide rate at 5.3/100,000, significantly lower than it was in 2000, and the worst thing you can say about concealed-carry is that it might not have contributed to this decline.