A little over a year ago on May 24, 2016, permitless carry went into effect in West Virginia. Despite ex-NYC Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s anti-gun hysteria machine, pro-Second Amendment lawmakers in the Mountain State realized that law-abiding citizens have a right to carry concealed for self-defense. Call it a big win for freedom-loving, Second-Amendment supporting West Virginians!
But what about all those doomsday predictions about this supposed “dangerous” legislation that posed a “threat to public safety” and people everywhere? Drumroll, please…
One year later, here’s how West Virginia State Police spokesman, Lt. Michael Baylous, described the impact permitless carry has had on the state:
When comparing the raw data from 2015 and 2016, there does not appear to be an overall significant difference in the number of violent crimes committed with firearms. Some counties experienced an increase in gun-related incidents, while others experienced a decrease.
And Lt. Dan Underwood, of Cabell County, where murders did increase? Here’s what he had to say: “I can’t say constitutional carry had anything to do with it when we’ve got heroin, which I know had something to do with it.”
Interesting. Straight from local law enforcement: constitutional carry has not unleashed the Wild, Wild West in West Virginia in the last 12 months.
Granted, 12 months isn’t enough time to measure the impact of any law. So, let’s look at three states where permitless carry has been on the books for more than one year.
Enter: Alaska, Arizona, and Wyoming. Each state enacted permitless carry in 2003, 2010, and 2011, respectively. And according to data from the FBI’s “Crime in the United States” report, it’s clear that none of the aforementioned states experienced an increase in the number of murders — including handgun murders — after enacting permitless carry.
In Alaska, handgun murders actually declined after the state enacted permitless carry in 2003. In fact, in the last 14 years, handgun murders have declined as a percentage of the total number of murders. Definitely no doomsday there.
Arizona also saw a decrease in the percentage of murders committed with a handgun after its permitless carry law took effect in 2010. Overall murder declined, too.
Similar trends were seen in Wyoming — a state with a historically low murder rate. Once permitless carry went into effect in 2011, there was no spike in murders overall, or in those committed with a handgun.
The fact is, permitless carry simply hasn’t produced the kind of dire, anarchic scenarios gun control advocates want you to believe. Public safety is not being threatened, and last we checked, saloon shootouts at high noon aren’t on the rise.
As West Virginians and countless other law-abiding Americans have learned over the years, permitless carry simply allows a person who is otherwise legally able to possess a firearm, to carry it in a discreet, concealed manner. It doesn’t loosen gun laws already on the books. It doesn’t allow felons or any other prohibited person to carry guns. It simply puts law-abiding gun owners on equal footing with criminals (who, by the way, carry concealed on the regular).
Simply put: there’s no need to freak out over permitless carry — especially in a state like West Virginia, which already had permitless open carry. One would argue that if permitless open carry is already law of the land, simply putting on a jacket (thereby covering up your holster) shouldn’t automatically turn you into a felon. This legislation was, and continues to be about allowing law-abiding gun owners to carry their firearms in the manner they see fit. Nothing more, nothing less.
And lest anyone forget, the Second Amendment guarantees you the Right to Keep and Bear Arms. Not the right to keep them, and bear them if you meet a truckload of state-mandated criteria. Right now a mere 12 states have permitless carry laws on the books. One can only hope that number continues to grow.