This article first appeared at The McAlvany Intelligence Advisor on Monday, April 6, 2015:
Last Thursday Kansas Governor Sam Brownback signed into law a bill expanding Kansas' permitless open carry laws to include concealed carry, adding Kansas to the ever-growing list of other states to do so.
Otherwise called “Constitutional carry” or “Vermont carry,” permitless carry satisfies most Second Amendment purists who believe that the phrase “…the right to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed” means exactly what it says: one doesn't need permission to exercise a right.
For years Kansans have enjoyed the right to carry a firearm openly, without permission. But if a coat or a jacket covers it, or if one wishes to carry it in a purse or satchel, he would need to obtain a concealed carry permit from the state to do so. And so he will, until the new law becomes effective July 1.
At the moment, Kansas will join numerous other states with similar freedoms, including Alaska, Arizona, Vermont and Wyoming.
Kansas, it will be remembered, passed a law last year prohibiting local townships and municipalities from passing gun laws more restrictive than the state allows. The year before, the state also thumbed its nose at the ATF and the Department of justice by declaring that the federal government has no authority in the state to regulate firearms that were manufactured, sold, and owned in the state. It also prohibited using citizens' tax dollars to promote gun control schemes.
Alaska's law dates back to 2003, while Arizona's took effect in August, 2013. Vermont has stood virtually alone until relatively recently, with its history of permitless or Constitutional carry dating back to the creation of the Union.
Wyoming's law dates to 2011 when Governor Matt Mead signed into law legislation giving the state's citizens the right to carry openly or concealed without a permit. Open carry in Idaho is legal, as it is in Montana, New Hampshire, Oklahoma, Colorado, Maine, Nevada, North Carolina, Ohio and Pennsylvania (while on foot). South Dakotans also enjoy the right to carry openly without a permit while, surprisingly, the open carry of a handgun is prohibited in texas. In Virginia and West Virginia open carry is legal without a permit as well.
Naturally, with laws favoring the Second Amendment being passed so rapidly, readers are advised to check local laws before travelling to reciprocity states. One website that was just updated on April 2 is Handgunlaw.us which issued this warning:
While we have made every possible effort to insure these maps and information [the website is interactive with links to the laws in every state] are accurate as of [April 2], it is your responsibility to verify the data offered.
The irony of the passing of Sarah Brady, the chairwoman of both the anti-gun Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence [formerly and more accurately known as Handgun Control, Inc.], the day after Brownback expanded Kansans' right to exercise their Second Amendment rights was hard to miss. Ms. Brady was the wife of James Brady, Reagan's press secretary who was grievously wounded in an attack on the president by John Hinckley. She had contacted Handgun Control, Inc., a tiny but noisy anti-gun group founded by zealots wanting to remove absolutely and completely all weapons from law-abiding citizens, requesting assistance. At that moment in time, momentum was all in their favor. In a mere 12 years since that attack on the president in 1981, the group had managed to pressure Congress into passing the Brady Handgun Violence Prevention Act, mandating background checks and waiting periods for many gun purchasers. Its hypocrisy notwithstanding (criminals were free to purchase, own, and use as many handguns as they could afford, without government interference), then-president bill clinton signed into law the very next year the infamous Federal Assault Weapons Ban, another law against law-abiding citizens that criminals also freely ignored.
But when that ban against so-called assault weapons expired in 2004, a sea-change in attitude towards the ownership of firearms had taken place. Although the Brady campaign and its funders moved mountains to extend the ban permanently, it was allowed to expire. It turned out that that was the last major piece of federal regulation to be enacted. Since then, momentum has shifted mightily toward common sense and the Second Amendment.
One needs only to look at the relative size of the Brady Campaign compared to its nemesis, the National Rifle Association, to gauge their present influence. The Brady Campaign boasts a membership of 600,000 and an annual budget of just over $3 million. The nra, on the other hand, claims more than 5 million members, with an annual budget approaching a quarter of a billion dollars.
And that doesn't count the numerous other pro-gun groups, many with greater influence in certain areas (i.e., scholarship, legal representation before the Supreme Court and other courts), including the Second Amendment Foundation, Gun Owners of America, Jews for the Preservation of Firearms Ownership, and the National Association for Gun Rights.
The gun wars have shifted to the states where pro-Second Amendment groups, with some exceptions, are enjoying a heyday of victory after victory – so many that it's hard to keep up.
Early on, gun control advocates ruled the day. The first major infringement occurred with passage of the National Firearms Act in 1934. It was followed in 1968 by the Omnibus crime Control and Safe Streets and the Gun Control Acts of 1968. Since the expiration of the Federal Assault Weapons Ban in 2004, the shift favoring gun ownership has been increasingly perceptible. With irrefutable evidence that gun ownership results in less crime (according to the NRA, since permitless carry was adopted, murder rates in Alaska have declined by 23 percent, in Arizona by 16 percent, and in Wyoming by eight percent) thanks to efforts by John Lott (author of More guns, Less Crime in 1968 which he updated in 2010) and others, the shift towards self-reliance and individual responsibility continues apace.
O, the irony! The passing of permitless carry in Kansas on Thursday and the passing of Sarah Brady on Friday reminds one of two ships passing in the night, headed in opposite directions: one headed for port, the other headed for oblivion.
NRAILA.org: Governor Brownback Signs NRA-Backed Permitless Carry Legislation Into Law
The New York Times: Sarah Brady, Gun Control Activist, Is Dead at 73
Background on Constitutional carry
Handgunlaw.us: Source for current state gun laws (last updated April 2, 2015)
Background of the Brady Campaign
Background on the 1994 Federal Assault Weapons Ban
Pro-Second Amendment groups in the US: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Category:Gun_rights_advocacy_groups_in_the_United_States
Summary of major gun control laws in the US
Amazon.com: More Guns, Less Crime by John Lott