SCOTUS Concealed Carry Decision Reflects the Times

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Opinion

Gabriella Hoffman

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Posted: Jul 07, 2022 12:01 AM

The opinions expressed by columnists are their own and do not necessarily represent the views of Townhall.com.

Last week, the Supreme Court of the United States handed down the most consequential gun rights decision in 14 years, eliminating barriers for citizens in seven states to get their concealed carry permits. But opponents claim the ruling will upend safety in blue states and major U.S. cities.

In New York State Rifle and Pistol Association vs Bruen, the justices ruled in a 6-3 decision that a New York law requiring concealed handgun permit (CHP) applicants to show “proper cause” (or demonstrate a good reason) to carry outside their homes is unconstitutional. The ruling only applies to concealed carrying of handguns, not open carry or brandishing long guns in public. 

This means that average Americans within these states, not just celebrities and politicians, can now enjoy their constitutional right to conceal carry outside their homes under more liberal “shall-issue” laws like those found in 43 states.

In the decision, Justice Clarence Thomas explained: “The constitutional right to bear arms in public for self-defense is not ‘a second-class right, subject to an entirely different body of rules than the other Bill of Rights guarantees.’” 

Despite the anti-gun movement’s misrepresentation of the ruling, its impact will lead to more responsible firearms ownership — not less of it. 

Gun owners shouldn’t have to demonstrate a special need for a handgun permit. Demonstrating a need for a permit was a largely outdated policy found in a few states. Before SCOTUS handed down the decision, 43 U.S. states had shall-issue regimes — meaning carry applications can’t be denied if applicants fulfill carry permit requirements. Now the seven states—including New York — can’t deny permits on a whim and must issue them on the basis of self-defense needs.

NYSRPA vs Bruen determined the Empire State’s proper-cause requirement “violates the Fourteenth Amendment by preventing law-abiding citizens with ordinary self-defense needs from exercising their Second Amendment right to keep and bear arms in public for self-defense.”

Not only did the Supreme Court reasonably clarify gun owners can conceal carry outside their homes, the American public appears to be in agreement with the groundbreaking ruling.

Several public opinion polls recorded growing support for this. A new Marquette University Law School Poll found 62 percent of respondents supported concealed carry versus 38 percent who were opposed. Similarly, a Reuters/Ipsos poll revealed 69 percent of respondents support “allowing law-abiding citizens to get a permit to carry a concealed weapon.” 

The best available numbers on concealed carry permit holders show continual growth. The Crime Prevention Research Center’s latest survey, Concealed Carry Permit Holders Across the United States: 2021, found 21.5 million Americans hold permits—up 48 percent from 2016. 

Gun control activists argue the proliferation of firearms — and, correspondingly, carry permits — will lead to increased violent crime rates. That couldn’t be more false. In fact, available evidence suggests the opposite occurs.

The data doesn’t lie: concealed handgun permit holders are some of the most law-abiding people out there. According to the U.S. Concealed Carry Association, only 0.59 per 100,000 in the U.S. are concealed carry permit holders charged with crimes involving handguns. That’s lower than firearms offenses committed by police officers at a rate of 16.5 per 100,000 police officers.

The nonprofit Rand Corporation has extensively studied concealed carry and its effects on violent crime. Its April 2020 review determined that shall-issue concealed carry laws don’t lead to an increase in violent crime. Moreover, it found that the evidence determining this claim is “limited” and the effect on total homicides, firearm homicides, robberies, assaults, and rapes “inconclusive.”

Defensive gun use — including that by CHP holders — has been shown to help deter crime. Last month, a Charleston, West Virginia, CHP holder stopped a would-be mass shooter at a party using her pistol. A Chicago handgun permit holder shot a violent assailant last summer. 

The Heritage Foundation reports firearms are used “500,000 to more than 3 million times each year” for defensive use purposes. Good guys and gals with concealed guns do stop bad guys and gals with guns.

Current may-issue states will greatly benefit from the NYSRPA vs Bruen decision. Since regular citizens want to protect themselves, it’s only natural they apply for and obtain handgun permits without obstacles. 

To new concealed handgun permit holders about to join our ranks: Welcome! Treat your rights seriously. Train early and educate others. And remember to be responsible. 

Gabriella Hoffman is a Young Voices Contributor, Virginia concealed handgun permit holder, and host of the District of Conservation podcast.