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Concealed carry in the United States is booming, as Dr. John Lott found in his latest report.
According to Lott, permits have increased 256 percent in the last 10 years, totaling 16 million permit holders in the United States. And in the last year, permit holders increased by a record-breaking number of 1.83 million. Lott’s data also points out that women and minorities are increasingly becoming permit holders, and permit holders in general are extremely law-abiding.
These numbers are astounding – the self-defense movement in the Unites States clearly is alive and well.
And more armed citizens are a good thing. In fact, Lott has reported that while carry permits rose 190 percent, violent crime fell by 18 percent.
So, with all of the excitement surrounding concealed carry, shouldn’t gun owners rejoice at the growing number of permit holders? Perhaps, but let’s step back and look at the bigger picture.
If we celebrate that 16 million Americans have a carry permit, what we’re really celebrating is an infringement on the right to bear arms.
Think about it this way: the 16 million permit holders – who already have an inherent, constitutionally-protected right to bear arms – have taken a class (often not adequate for proper firearm training), paid a fee, and submitted to background checks, waiting periods and registration for the privilege to carry a firearm in certain locations in their home state and in a limited number of states around the country.
As a permit holder, having to get a permit to exercise a right – no matter the process of getting the permit – is not something I want to celebrate.
The fact is that bearing arms is a right, not a privilege.
Because bearing arms is a right, we shouldn’t have to be permitted to exercise that right. But when we are forced by the government to get a permit, we no longer have the “right” to bear arms – but a “privilege” to bear arms.
Carry permits – which are essentially government issued permission slips – transform the right to bear arms into a privilege.
However, there is something to celebrate: “Constitutional Carry.”
Fourteen states, which are Constitutional Carry, do not require the draconian permitting process for its citizens. And ironically, a dozen more states allow for permit-less open carry, while concealed carry is still permitted.
So, yes, let’s celebrate that there are more armed citizens, but let’s not celebrate the fact that most had to ask the government for permission exercise that right.
Constitutional Carry is worth celebrating, and as gun owners, let’s not stop fighting until every state truly respects the right to bear arms.
Jordan Stein is the Director of Communications for Gun Owners of America (GOA), a grassroots organization representing more than 1.5 million gun owners. He can be followed on Twitter at @jordankstein