In 2021, the philosophy of states’ law on the Second Amendment right to bear arms fall into three broad categories. They are:
- Constitutional (permitless) Carry (green). In this situation, no permit is required to carry a loaded handgun, either openly or concealed, in most public spaces most of the time. It is a close approximation of the state of the law when the Second Amendment was ratified in 1791.
- Shall Issue Permits (blue). This scheme issues permits to carry, mostly to carry concealed, if the person applying for the permit meets certain objective criteria stated in black letter law.
- Discretionary (May Issue) permits (yellow). This scheme grants the power to deny permits to the issuing authority based on broad, subjective criteria. There is a range of applications, from nearly Shall Issue in Massachusetts to virtually no issue in Hawaii and New Jersey.
During the last two decades, numerous states have changed their laws to restore Second Amendment rights to carry. Those rights had been gradual, over time, infringed with greater and greater significance. in 2001, only Vermont had Constitutional Carry. Vermont had never required a permit. The only attempt to initiate a permit in Vermont was struck down by the State’s Supreme Court. Vermont covers one-quarter of 1 percent (.25%) of the area of the United States.
By early March of 2021, 17 states had restored Constitutional Carry.
- New Hampshire
- North Dakota
- South Dakota
- West Virginia
Together, those states and Vermont cover 1,782,985 square miles or 46.8% of the land area of the United States.
The total land area of the United States: US Census is 3,805,927 square miles.
The states which are under the Shall Issue system (24), as of early March in 2021, cover another 46.2% or 1,758,043 square miles.
The states which have stubbornly refused to alter their Discretionary (May Issue) statutes are eight. They are: California, Delaware, Hawaii, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York, and Rhode Island. Their combined land area is 264,899 square miles or 7% of the land area of the United States.
California covers 4.3%, New York 1.4%, Maryland .32%, Hawaii .29%, Massachusetts .28% New Jersey .23%, Delaware .07%, and Rhode Island .04%.
Two states, Utah and Montana, converted from Shall Issue to Constitutional Carry in early 2021. Other states will likely restore Constitutional Carry in the future. Here are the prospects, broken into four categories:
Likely candidates for near future Constitutional Carry are:
- Indiana at 36,420 square miles or 1% of the US land area.
- Iowa at 56,273 square miles or 1.5% of the US land area.
- Tennessee at 42,144 square miles or 1.1% of the US land area.
The categories are necessarily imprecise. Alabama and Louisiana could be classified as either likely or plausible.
Plausible candidates for Constitutional Carry, but less likely to restore the right in the near future, are:
- Alabama at 52,420 square miles or 1.4% of the US land area.
- Louisiana at 52,378 square miles or 1.4% of the US land area.
- Nebraska at 77,348 square miles or 2% of the US land area.
- Wisconsin at 65,496 square miles or 1.7% of the US land area.
- North Carolina at 53,819 square miles or 1.4% of the US land area.
- South Carolina at 32,020 square miles or .84% of the US land area.
- Georgia at 59,425 square miles or 1.6%
- Michigan at 96,714 square miles or 2.5% of the US land area.
- Texas at 268,596 square miles or 7%.
- Ohio at 44,826 square miles or 1.2%.
- Pennsylvania square miles at 46,054 or 1.2%.
- Florida at 65,758 square miles or 1.7%.
- Virginia at 42,775 square miles or 1.1%
While Florida and Virginia may seem unlikely to some, they are borderline. Because of recent history, they are put in the likely category on the low side.
The following states seem unlikely, but not hostile.
Unlikely candidates for Constitutional Carry are:
- Washington State 71,298 square miles or 1.9%
- Oregon 98,379 square miles or 2.6% of the US land area.
- Minnesota 86,936 square miles or 2.3% of the US land area.
- Connecticut 5,543 square miles or .15% of the US land area.
The following state governments are actively hostile to the Second Amendment. If they restore Constitutional Carry, it will likely be by court order.
Hostile Candidates for Constitutional Carry are:
- California 4.3% of the land area of the US.
- Delaware .07% of the land area of the US.
- Hawaii .29% of the land area of the US.
- Illinois 1.5% of the land area of the US.
- Maryland .32% of the land area of the US.
- Massachusetts .28% of the land area of the US.
- New York 1.4% of the land area of the US.
- New Jersey .23% of the land area of the US.
- Rhode Island .04% of the land area of the US.
It is plausible Constitutional carry will be restored to over half the land area of the United States by the end of 2021. Constitutional Carry has a self-reinforcing logic. The more states which restore Constitutional Carry, and which do not see any “blood in the streets” problems predicted by those who desire a disarmed population, the more force the arguments to restore Second Amendment rights have.
©2021 by Dean Weingarten: Permission to share is granted when this notice and link are included.
About Dean Weingarten:
Dean Weingarten has been a peace officer, a military officer, was on the University of Wisconsin Pistol Team for four years, and was first certified to teach firearms safety in 1973. He taught the Arizona concealed carry course for fifteen years until the goal of Constitutional Carry was attained. He has degrees in meteorology and mining engineering, and retired from the Department of Defense after a 30 year career in Army Research, Development, Testing, and Evaluation.