One of the books I am using in class this semester was published in 2014, which in the academic world is fairly recent. But in the world of concealed carry laws, it is ancient. The authors of my text observed that five states at the time did not require a permit to legally carry a concealed handgun (Vermont, Arizona, Alaska, Arkansas*, Wyoming).
In the past 5 years, 10 additional states have passed permitless carry laws, including South Dakota and Oklahoma just this year (2019). Because of this, John Richardson of the “No Lawyers Only Guns and Money” blog has published an updated version of a graphic created by Rob Vance showing the growing share of the US population that lives in states with more liberal (shall issue or “unrestricted”**) permitting regimes.
As John notes in his original blog post,
Going back to 1986, over 90% of Americans lived in states with either no carry permitted or may-issue carry permits. By contrast, approximately two-thirds of all Americans live in a state with either shall-issue permits or constitutional carry [today].
We are well into the into a 4th stage in the development of concealed weapons laws centered on the expansion of permitless carry.
If you’re interested in reviewing the history of concealed carry laws in the US, among my most popular posts on this blog historically are a series of entries on that topic:
- Part 1: The Early Republic
- Part 2: The Restricted Era (1850s-1980s)
- Part 3: The Shall Issue Era (1986-2013)
- Part 4: Dawn of the Permitless Carry Era (2015- )
*I have not historically considered Arkansas a permitless carry state — especially not back in 2014 — since the law provided for carrying without a permit when “journeying” beyond one’s home county. Some legislation and a court ruling in 2018 has led some to classify Arkansas as constitutional carry, but the fact that a state legislator introduced legislation in February 2019 declaring Arkansas to be a permitless carry state suggests the issue is not yet resolved.
**I don’t care for the language of “unrestricted” here because there are still many restrictions on carrying concealed even in permitless carry states.