It has never been so easy in the modern era to carry a gun without a permit in so many states, reports The Trace. Over the past seven years, 10 states have rolled back longstanding licensing, training, and registration requirements for carriers of concealed weapons under a novel legislative philosophy called “constitutional carry.” In mid-February, New Hampshire became the latest to join the club. More states may soon follow. Legislators in at least 20 states, including Indiana, Montana, Utah, Kentucky, Tennessee, Texas, and the Dakotas have introduced constitutional carry bills.
For gun-violence watchdogs, the movement represents a massive erosion of public safety and responsibility; for gun-rights advocates, it’s a restoration of rights as the founding fathers understood them. How does constitutional carry work, where does it come from, and where is it headed? The Trace, in an explainer on the movement and its context, says some of the answers may be a surprise. Beginning with Florida in 1987 and ending with Illinois in 2013, every state has enacted legislation to permit the carry of concealed firearms. Most require carriers to obtain a license, and along with it, proof of firearms knowledge or hands-on training.