The Truth About Carry Permits

The Tweet from Josh at UrbanArmed drew my eye, the kind I read all the time.

Josh SC Tweet

I clicked the link, and found the real headline should have been “Antiquated Senator Opposes Constitutional Carry.” Here are some excerpts:

Sen. Lee Bright, who is challenging Sen. Lindsey Graham, sponsored a bill that would restore 2nd Amendment rights to South Carolina citizens. Recently Governor Nikki Haley (R) backed the proposal that would “make it legal for most South Carolinians to carry guns – concealed or in the open – without a permit.”

The bill, Constitutional Carry, stated that the 2nd Amendment is the only permit a citizen needs in order to exercise his right not simply to keep arms but to bear them as well. Unfortunately, the bill failed with a Republican majority in the senate. Only 4 Republicans voted to advance the bill out of the judiciary committee: Lee Bright, Shane Martin, Katrina Shealy, and Tom Corbin.

Sen. Larry Martin (R) was a strong and vocal opponent of the bill. One of his constituents, who asked him to advance the bill, received this response from Martin: “If the 2nd amendment has been as you interpret it, why hasn’t SC law reflected that for the last 140 years? I’m sorry but you are describing an “unlimited” right that has never been the case with the 2nd Amendment. My view of the 2nd Amendment has always been the right to own guns and keep them in our homes, business, and property and not to wear a gun whenever to wherever I pleased.”

Senator Martin opposes Constitutional Carry, because he is, frankly, ignorant of the history of the gun permit process. In fact, from the last statement he makes, we can see his is also ignorant of the current state of understanding of  the Second Amendment as a whole, given that the decision in Heller distinctly said that the right to “bear arms” meant exactly what he denies – the right to “wear a gun.”

But my point today isn’t to decry this senator’s lack of support for the Second Amendment. It is to show the total lack of understanding by Martin and others of the whole nature of carry permits in general.

You see, most of us today love our carry permits. We think they are the reflection of what is right about America, a symbol of our Second Amendment freedoms.

But the truth about carry permits is that they have nothing to do with the Second Amendment, and never have. In fact, the fact they are around at all flies in the face of “the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed.”

This lack of understanding is reflected by the Senator’s question, “If the 2nd amendment has been as you interpret it, why hasn’t SC law reflected that for the last 140 years?” The answer is contained in the history of carry permits. The people who foisted the idea of needing a government permit to carry a weapon were not concerned about the Second Amendment. They did not think they were allowing law abiding citizens  the chance to arm themselves in defense of a dangerous world.

The whole carry permit system was invented 140 years ago to keep guns out of the hands of freed black slaves.

The truth about carry permits is that what we call Constitutional Carry, what we think is a new and novel idea, pioneered by forward thinking states like Vermont and Alaska and Wyoming and Arkansas, is really just a return to what was once the norm, before the spread of the permit system.  Sadly the author of the article neglects to mention any of this, either because he doesn’t know, or because he knows a Southern state like SC was likely more to blame than others in adopting this racist system.

If you need any proof that the permit system is racist, consider that all the permits at that time the system was implemented were what we now call “May Issue,” meaning the local sheriff or police could issue a permit at their sole discretion, with no appeal.

Even now, Alabama retains a May Issue law, even though they publicly say they treat it like a Shall Issue law. Funny, though, how when I got my permit in Alabama, the clerk had to have the sheriff come and physically look at me before she would approve my application, even with the clean background check in hand.

Even in Shall Issue states, carry permits, and worse, gun owner permits, are still a way for the government to restrict and keep track of who has the guns. Now, here in Georgia, there are some ways that this is reduced, like putting the permits in the hands of county Probate Judges, with no state database. But still, any restriction is an infringement, and we know what the Second Amendment says about that.

Yes, there are those that say that we need to make sure only the law abiding can carry guns. But – seriously – how does any permit system do that? A criminal is not going to apply for a permit, they are just going to carry a gun.

The criminals are carrying guns right now.

What about someone who thinks they are fine to carry, applies for a permit, and finds out that time their girlfriend called the cops ten years ago before she walked out with all his stuff, got recorded as a domestic abuse conviction? He goes home without a permit. Never mind that he is as trustworthy as the day is long. He doesn’t get to carry, and one day he could be robbed or murdered because of it.

Or he goes ahead and carries a gun, without a permit. And nobody ever knows about it, because he never has to use it once.

“But,” you counter, “what if he really is an abusive person, who beat up his girlfriend? And now he wants to carry a gun so he can shoot the next one.”

That guy doesn’t apply for a permit in the first place. He’s an untrustworthy scumbag, just like the criminals who carry without a permit.

And, I can guarantee it – they are carrying guns right now.

So, don’t think the Constitutional Carry movement is anything new. It’s a return to the way things were, before America’s sad racist past intervened.

And it’s time to make that right.

2 thoughts on “The Truth About Carry Permits

  1. rd

    I am just a reader from the Mid West, but WTF?

    “response from Martin: “If the 2nd amendment has been as you interpret it, why hasn’t SC law reflected that for the last 140 years?”

    Does this distinguished senator think that the 2nd Amendment dates back to Reconstruction? 140 years ago would be 1874 and the beginning of Jim Crow. Does the senator really think that tying his opposition to the enactment of Jim Crow laws is a good idea? Is he that TONE-DEAF?!

    People like this are how Republicans get tied to racism.


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