Saturday, June 13, 2015

Why are carry permits a bad idea?

Two decades ago, Tennessee passed a "shall-issue" handgun carry law, requiring the Tennessee Department of Safety to issue a handgun carry permit to any citizen who takes the required training, has a clean record, is mentally competent, and has enough money to pay for the privilege.

Thirty-six states have passed similar laws. The legislatures and governors of these states have recognized that the typical crime does not occur when the police are nearby. Most crimes occur outside the home. Police most often can only clean up after the crime, take a report and start looking for the perpetrator.

While the permitting process in Tennessee and other states has certainly improved the situation for citizens, it still places an undue burden on the peaceful citizen, but not on the criminal.

In Vermont, it is lawful to carry a firearm openly or concealed provided the firearm is not carried with the intent or avowed purpose of injuring a fellow man. No permit is needed. In Vermont, citizens are not required to get a permit to carry a firearm. The State of Vermont has long recognized the right of its good citizens to defend themselves while away from home without the need of a permit.

In 2014, Tennessee joined most of the states surrounding us, and does do not require a permit to carry a firearm loaded in a vehicle, but require a permit if one is to carry a handgun on or about the person. 

The permitting costs vary widely from state to state. If one gets a permit in Georgia, the current cost in Gwinnett County is $80.00,  The current cost for a Tennessee permit is $127.50 for five years, but is complicated, based on this scale:
Link to TN DOS site here
. . . . plus $85 more or less for the required training. This may not seem like a lot to you and me, but that is a lot of money for someone working for minimum wage, or a retired citizen on a fixed income.

The permitting system, as a result, actually disables good citizens who desire to comply with the law, but can't afford the financial burden of the permitting process. These citizens must make a difficult choice. Take their handgun with them and risk arrest or leave it at home and take a greater risk of death or serious injury if attacked.

Should a criminal be required to get a carry permit?

Yes? If you answer yes, then you need to understand a longstanding Supreme Court decision. The Court decided in 1968 (Haynes v. U.S.) that felons would not be required to comply with any gun registration laws, because compelling felons to register firearms would violate the Fifth Amendment protection against self-incrimination.

In a similar manner, the Tennessee permitting system effectively registers the handgun owner. Obviously, requiring the criminal to apply for a permit would be foolish. A felon's truthful answer to all the questions on the application would ensure denial of his application. It would also give law enforcement officers reason to believe that he was in possession of a handgun, which, for him, would be a crime. Thus he would have incriminated himself.

No? If you correctly answer no, you will probably argue that the criminal is not going to get a permit any way. He is going to carry his handgun whenever and wherever he sees fit. To him the handgun is just a tool to use while plying his illicit trade. He would be no more interested in getting a permit than a carpenter would be in getting one for his hammer and saw.

Felons have been forbidden ownership of firearms since passage of the 1968 Gun Control Act. They cannot legally own nor carry a gun or ammo for any purpose. If they acquire a gun, they violate the law. If they carry a gun, they violate the law.

If the permitting process (for criminals) is prohibited by the 5th amendment and/or ignored by the criminal, what is really accomplished by the process? Clearly, the permitting process would be a wasted effort with the criminal element of society.

Is there any common sense in requiring that permits be purchased by decent citizens?

Yes? We need permits so that police will know who's carrying a gun. But, criminals don't get permits. What good does it do for police to know who the "good guys" are that are carrying a gun. This response is not valid. And now, in Tennessee, we have almost a year's experience with non-permitted carry in vehicles. Police don't know who these individuals are when they make a traffic stop.

Yes? We need to insure that people that carry firearms have proper, adequate training. But, police who are trained extensively have a dismal record of one shot stops. Or stops with two or three shots.

Obviously, anyone who is going to keep a firearm for protection at home or bear one away from home needs training. But, states that have long allowed non-permitted car carry do not report any significant problems. We don't see newspaper reports of "untrained Georgia citizens" mistakenly shooting someone. 

No? Bingo. There is NO common sense nor logic in requiring citizens to get carry permits. The major accomplishment of the process is to supply states with a registration database of legitimate firearms owners. Is this the real goal? Does this owner registration process serve any legitimate purpose in a free society. I think not!

Ultimately, the permitting process amounts to a prior restraint on a Constitutional right. One must ask permission from the State prior to exercising this right. One might even say it is tantamount to a poll tax on a right. Newspaper editors or television anchors would raise a bloody ruckus if told their reporters had to get a permit before exercising their First Amendment freedom of the press.

Gun rights advocates should lobby their legislatures ceaselessly until permits are no longer required*.

*We reluctantly note that permits should be maintained as optional to provide for continued reciprocity with other states.


  1. In the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, a License to Carry Firearms (LTCF) is required to carry either concealed, or in a vehicle, or in the City of Philadelphia. Open Carry requires no license (except in Philadelphia). The license costs $20, is good for 5 years, and requires a one-page application. No training, no fingerprints, no nothing (except for a clean record). Right now, over ONE MILLION Pennsylvanians have an LTCF, and that's between one in eight and one in ten adult citizens. Pennsylvania expects the citizens to become familiar with the laws concerning firearms, which is the way it should be.

    1. Some years ago, in preparation for a trip to PA, I got a PA LTCF by mail. That was before PA honored TN PERMITS. BTW, great vacation!

    2. 16AmJur2d.,Sec. 260:

      "Although it is manifested that an unconstitutional provision in the statute is not cured because included in the same act with valid

      provisions and that there is no degrees of constitutionality."

      Mudook v. Penn., 319 US 105:(1943)

      "A state may not impose a charge for the enjoyment of a right granted by the Federal Constitution and that a flat license tax here involves
      restraints in advance the constitutional liberties of Press and Religion and inevitably tends to suppress their existence. That the ordinance
      is non-discriminatory and that is applies also to peddlers of wares and merchandise is immaterial. The liberties granted by the first
      amendment are and in a preferred position. Since the privilege in question is guaranteed by the Federal Constitution and exist
      independently of the states authority , the inquiry as to whether the state has given something for which it cannot ask a return, is
      irrelevant. No state may convert any secured liberty into a privilege and issue a license and a fee for it"

  2. I like the way we do it in Indiana. It costs about $100 for a lifetime license. It would be better if it was $20, but it is a onetime fee (we also have 5 year permits, but I don't think anyone applies for them - that would be foolish since the lifetime license costs just a few dollars more). The only benefit to licensing that I see is the convenience of being able to show an officer that you are legally carrying a firearm - it saves time. Though the situation has never come up for me. Roughly 1 out of every 8 adults (18 or older) has a license to carry a handgun in Indiana.

  3. "These citizens must make a difficult choice."
    Yes. Only vote for candidates that will enact legislation making carrying weapons similar to Vermont. It is a difficult choice that is an easy choice. Let them know how you will decide for whom you will vote.

  4. Gun laws are not meant for people having criminal intent. These are for the decent people to bound them so that they cannot do self defense without any hindrance from the government. The one benefit of carrying a license is that you can show it to the office that you are eligible to carry the firearms.

  5. I'm afraid once the Bureaucracy forms and money collection begins and an industry of fees and training springs up, arguments about rights become secondary to maintain these new found revenue streams.
    After permitting takes place "for the law abiding", getting to constitutional carry under the your second amendment right now makes politicians become faced with biting a hand that's now feeding them. Another reason it’s a bad idea creating financial rewards to deny a right.

  6. Thanks for the post. People who are really concerned about the safety of themselves and their loved ones may have the MA Gun License so as to make them feel more safer and get legally permitted to use the guns.

  7. Although this was a great article, It didn't really seem to match with how it is a bad idea. I adore guns and fully support people who are concerned about their safety and other too.

    1. Anytime one has to pay to exercise a constitutional right, it ceases to be a right, and becomes a privilege. That is a bad idea.

      Thanks for asking.


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