The Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution consists of only 27 words, yet arguments over their meaning fill volumes that cause bookshelves to groan under their load of legal argle-bargle. A reinvigorated era of assault on firearms encouraged by President Biden is already worsening the weight. The outcomes of numerous legal challenges are likely to determine whether owning and carrying a gun remains an American right or is reclassified as a wrong.
In trendy times such as these, words the Framers used to spell out the right to firearms read like a foreign language. “A well-regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.” It’s really not that complicated.
Closest to a conclusive ruling is a challenge of states’ authority to restrict a citizen’s right to carry a concealed firearm, a case heard by the U.S. Supreme Court in late April. A pair of New Yorkers brought to the forefront a regulation that requires them to show “proper cause” of a special need for the personal protection that a concealed weapon would provide.
In addition to New York, states with similar “may issue” restrictions on eligibility for a concealed carry permit include New Jersey, Rhode Island, Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Maryland, Massachusetts and California. States employ a wide range of discretion for determining who gets a permit. Applicants in Delaware and Connecticut are generally successful, and those in New Jersey and Hawaii, like New Yorkers, are often out of luck.
Even states with “shall issue” rules frequently require applicants to pass concealed-carry classes, during which they must demonstrate competency in the safe handling of their firearm, including the ability to shoot accurately.
Gun-control groups cite data they interpret to imply the stronger the limits on concealed-carry permits, the better. The Giffords Law Center claims that violent crime rates are 13-15 percent higher in states with weaker concealed-carry rules than those with stronger ones. Correlation doesn’t equate with causation, though, and it could be more logically argued that high crime is the cause of concealed-carry concentrations, rather than the result of it.
Indeed, it is not permit holders who wreak havoc on their communities, but those who carry with no permission but their own. Those authorized to carry a concealed weapon accounted for about 0.7 percent of all firearm-related homicides between 2007 and 2019, according to the Heritage Foundation.
With homicides rising 30 percent across the nation thus far in 2021, “proper cause” for requesting a concealed carry permit is simple. Some Americans need to defend self and family from those who would do them harm. The Framers believed the means to do so “shall not be infringed.”
Law-abiding citizens have every reason to expect the Supreme Court to affirm the clear meaning of the Second Amendment and order states to issue concealed-carry permits on a “shall issue” basis.