For more than 30 years, the National Rifle Association has taken an extremist and highly successful approach to loosening gun laws. One of its key campaigns has been to make it incredibly easy to get a state permit to carry a firearm concealed. Since 1986, when just a handful of states had such loose laws, all but nine have relaxed or done away with their strong restrictions on who gets a permit and who does not. Some of these states require minimal training before permits are issues, others require none at all. Until 2015, Colorado required training, but allowed people to fulfill it over the internet.
In the past few years, the NRA has pushed a variety of other changes in concealed-carry laws. One of these high on its priority list is a federal bill that would require every state to recognize every other state’s concealed-carry permits. That bill—the Concealed Carry Reciprocity Act—was introduced on the first day of the new Congress this year. In a March 23 Wall Street Journal op-ed, New York Police Commissioner James O’Neil and Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance Jr. stated this would represent “a dangerous and unwarranted interference with state and city laws.”
But the NRA has been simultaneously pushing an even worse change: getting as many states as possible to adopt statutes that eliminate concealed-carry permits altogether and allow anyone who can legally own a firearm to carry it hidden away wherever they go. To give it a patina of patriotism, they call this no-permit approach “constitutional carry.”
That campaign has a ways to go. It’s been quite successful and is following a similar trajectory as the expanded concealed-permit effort begun in 1986.
In 2010, only two states—Vermont and Alaska—operated under the no-permit approach. Now, 11 other states have joined the no-permit list: Arizona, Idaho, Kansas, Maine, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, New Hampshire, North Dakota, West Virginia, and Wyoming. The Michigan House of Representatives passed such a law this summer, and it’s pending in a state Senate committee. The Alabama Senate passed a no-permit bill in April, but the legislature adjourned for the year before the state House got around to considering it. A bill in Tennessee died in the spring. Likewise in Texas, two bills mandating no-permit concealed carry died in committee.
The NRA is not just coming to get The New York Times. It’s determined to go after every sane gun restriction law on the books.