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Licensed Vs. Unlicensed Carry

Licensed Vs. Unlicensed Carry

Unlicensed carry is great. It allows any citizen in states that have passed the legislation to carry a concealed handgun without a permit. And, for the purposes of this article, unlicensed carry refers to handguns, not rifles or shotguns.

A BRIEF HISTORY OF UNLICENSED AND LICENSED CARRY. Starting with the formation of the 13 original states, unlicensed carry was the law in all U.S. states until the 19th century. In the 1800’s, several states prohibited the right to concealed carry in their constitution in order to allow legislatures to regulate the practice. During Reconstruction, after the Civil War, several Southern states also passed laws banning concealed carry.

The state of Vermont has always had unlicensed carry. The Vermont constitution forbids the state from regulating the carrying of firearms. And, because Vermont does not issue a resident concealed carry permit, Vermonters may find themselves in a quandry when visiting states that require resident permits from other states for reciprocity. Vermont, however, stands out as the only state to have had unlicensed carry for its entire existence.

Georgia started a wave of modern legislation and licensing concealed carry in 1976—handing the responsibility of administering the “shall issue” process of licenses to the discretion of elected Probate Court Judges. “Shall issue” meaning that as long as an applicant met the basic requirements of an application, the state is compelled to issue a permit.

Indiana advanced the trend in 1980 with specific shall issue legislation. And, the shall issue trend continued in other states:

1985-Maine and North Dakota became shall issue states.
1986-South Dakota became a shall issue state.
1987-Florida went from “may issue” to shall issue.
1989-Georgia, Oregon, Pennsylvania, and West Virginia became shall issue.
1990-Idaho and Mississippi became shall issue.
1991-Montana became shall issue.
1994-Alaska, Arizona, Tennessee, and Colorado became shall issue.
1995-Nevada, Utah, Virginia, Texas, Arkansas, Oklahoma, and North Carolina became shall issue.
1996-Louisiana, South Carolina, and Kentucky became shall issue.

So, in just over a decade, 25 states made it possible for legally qualified citizens to receive a concealed carry permit.

An important step in a citizen’s right to legally own a handgun stems from the landmark District of Columbia v. Heller decision of the Supreme Court. The Heller decision held that individuals unconnected with service in a militia could lawfully keep and bear arms—and struck down the District of Columbia’s handgun ban, and other firearm-related requirements.

Recently, the Supreme Court ruled in New York State Rifle & Pistol Association v. Bruen that the state of New York’s requirement for citizens to show a need beyond the basic desire to protect themselves and their property in order to receive a concealed carry license was unconstitutional. This ruling brings into question the legality of any “may issue” licenses for concealed carry.

With all that history in mind, legal gun ownership has evolved to the degree that, by January 1, 2023, 25 states will allow some form of permitless carry of a handgun.

HOWEVER, even with that freedom in mind, there are still a plethora of advantages to actually getting a concealed carry permit. It’s a notch above your unlicensed carry right due to the benefits it provides that go beyond a right to unlicensed carry.

RECIPROCITY. The freedom of unlicensed carry in a state where it’s legal is nice, but with a permit you will have reciprocity in other states who will recognize your right to carry in their jurisdiction. It’s really a matter of having a license that automatically gets you more privileges in more areas.

However, efforts have been made to establish a national reciprocity standard that would allow individuals eligible to carry a concealed handgun in one state to carry or possess a handgun in another state that allows its residents to carry concealed firearms. House Resolution 38, introduced in January of 2021, was established for just that purpose (although it has not become law.)

WHERE YOU CAN CARRY. Although the details vary, it’s pretty much a certainty that the permit in your state is going to let you, to some degree, carry a concealed handgun in more public places than a unlicensed carry law.

For instance, a permit can allow you to carry in a casino or house of worship in some states. The rules of access vary from state to state, but there’s nearly always a benefit in terms of the number and types of places you can carry a concealed handgun when you have a permit.

And because the laws do vary from state to state, one of the many advantages of a Firearms Legal Protection membership is the MyFLP app, which allows members to look up carry laws on a state by state basis.

YOUR CARRY PERMIT CAN ALSO STREAMLINE THE PROCESS OF FIREARM PURCHASES. Unlicensed carry means you can CARRY a gun without a permit, but it doesn’t affect BUYING a gun.

Your concealed carry permit, in many states, covers the background check requirement for buying a firearm. Because attaining the permit means you’ve already passed a background check. Just another advantage of a permit.

TRAINING. Classes that satisfy requirements to receive a permit oftentimes cover self-defense, handgun safety, and shooting skill—not to mention pistol safety, parts, and operation, as well as care and cleaning of a handgun. In some states, significant training and proof of profiency is required. Other required training programs just focus on the laws related to carrying a firearm.

A common complaint or misunderstanding of licensing classes is “I thought they were going to teach me how to shoot” or “I wanted to learn how to defend myself” after attending a class that focused on criminal statues, as required by the state.

The point being that a person getting a permit may, indeed, already have a good knowledge of these issues, but all persons going through a requisite class will leave that class with a knowledge of how to properly store, handle, and clean a firearm.

IDENTIFICATION. A carry permit indicates that you not only have a knowledge of firearm law and safety, but that you’ve been background checked and were found to be a law-abiding gun owner. If you are pulled over while carrying a firearm, displaying a permit can help the officer to feel more at ease, and make the process go more smoothly.

Again, unlicensed carry is an outstanding facet of 2nd Amendment rights. But, a concealed carry permit expands those rights with many advantages and benefits you’ll want to enjoy.

Firearms Legal Protection provides uncapped legal defense for members who use a firearm (or any legal weapon) in self-defense or the defense of others. Unfortunately, when people use a weapon in self-defense they could be arrested, jailed, or face extensive legal costs. Firearms Legal Protection provides members with peace of mind in these difficult situations by covering all attorney fees and providing other benefits, including bail bond protection and incident scene clean-up. Firearms Legal Protection operates a 24-hour attorney-answered emergency hotline for members. All Firearms Legal Protection members receive legal protection against Red Flag laws, and are provided access to webinars, product discounts, and more. Protect yourself. We’ll Protect you.

The information given on this website is not legal advice. The information that may be posted in any format on this website is of a general nature and should not be construed in a person’s own situation as legal advice. If you so desire legal advice, please consult an attorney in a one-on-one setting to get legal advice that pertains to your unique circumstance.