In New Hampshire, the “Live Free or Die” state, Governor Sununu just signed permitless concealed carry into law. That appears to make NH the fifteenth of the fifty states to allow law- abiding citizens to carry loaded, concealed handguns in public without a permit. Professor John Lott lists eleven states in addition to New Hampshire which have what he calls “‘full” constitutional carry without any notable restrictions.” Tracking roughly from east to west, they are: Maine, Vermont, West Virginia, Mississippi, Arkansas, Missouri, Kansas, Wyoming, Arizona, Idaho, and Alaska. Dr. Lott also points out that there are three states he describes as having “‘limited’ constitutional carry – i.e., with a few restrictions or kinks included.” He lists as such Oklahoma, New Mexico, and Montana.
“Permitless carry” is probably the most semantically correct descriptor. I realize that “Constitutional Carry” has a ring to it, but I’ve been in enough debates that I try to avoid terms which can be interpreted in multiple ways. “Constitutional” technically means deriving from the Constitution and the Bill of Rights. It is understood all the way back to Civics 101 that Constitutional issues are arbitrated by the Supreme Court of the United States. In SCOTUS’ two landmark cases on individual Second Amendment rights, both Heller v. District of Columbia and McDonald, et. al. v. City of Chicago, the majority opinions specifically said that the right to carry was still open to regulation at the lower levels of government. Thus, it could be argued that the Constitution itself really doesn’t guarantee the right to carry loaded and concealed in public without a permit.
A term I much prefer is simply Vermont Model. For most of my life and probably yours unless you’re very young, Vermont was the ONLY state that did not require a permit to carry, and merely forbade the practice to those who were convicted felons, adjudicated mentally incompetent, or had malice in their hearts. Perhaps not coincidentally, there have been many years when Vermont had the lowest rate of violent crime of all fifty states.
It is good to see the Vermont Model spreading, with more states expected to get on board. Your take on it is, as always, welcome here.