Hawkins: Second Amendment Was the Founding Fathers’ Carry Permit

This February 4, 2013 photo illustration in Manassas, Virginia, shows a Colt AR-15 semi-automatic rifle a Colt .45 semi-auto handgun and a Walther PK380 semi-auto handgun and a copy of the US Constitution on top of the American flag. US President Barack Obama Monday heaped pressure on Congress for action …
KAREN BLEIER/AFP/Getty Images

With over one-third of U.S. states having adopted constitutional carry laws, it seems apropos to point out the Second Amendment was the Founding Fathers’ carry permit.

Which, by the way, is why permitless carry is called constitutional carry, as it is a return to carrying guns for self-defense based on the authority of the Bill of Rights rather than the possession of government-issued permit.

After all, those first ten amendments in the Bill of Rights protect natural rights the Founding Fathers purposely kept from being under the government’s purview. Freedom of speech, religion, and assembly, all protected by the First Amendment, and the right to keep and bear arms, protected by the Second, private property and security in our “persons, houses, papers, and effects,” protected by the Third and Fourth Amendments, and so on.

Do we need a permit from the government to speak freely? No.

Do we need a permit to practice our religion? No.

Do we need a permit in order to be secure in our “persons, houses, papers, and effects?” Again, the answer is no.

Yet we have been conditioned, via decades of incremental government action and establishment media blah-blah-blah, to go along with the push for a permit in order to exercise our right to bear arms for self-defense.

By adopting a constitutional carry framework, states are simply returning to the view of bearing arms held by our Founding Fathers in 1791, the year the Second Amendment was ratified. (And this is not an argument about a certain way of bearing arms; i.e., not an argument about carrying concealed versus carrying open or vice versa. It is about bearing arms for self-defense, period.)

This view was well presented in the masterful book, The Right to Bear Arms: A Constitutional Right or a Privilege of the Ruling Class?, where Stephen Halbrook writes, “At the beginning of the early Republic, citizens were at liberty to peaceably carry arms outside the home in public, openly or concealed, without any restrictions. Legal commentators acclaimed the constitutional right to bear arms as the palladium of liberty of a free state.”

Thus governors and other office holders in state after state have reflected the conviction that constitutional carry is simply a return to the way things were meant to be; a return to the understanding that the Second Amendment not only protected the right to keep arms but the right to bear them, too.

For example, in March 2015, when constitutional carry was making it way through the West Virginia Senate, the Charleston Gazette quoted state Sen. Robert Kames (R-Upshur) saying, “This is a United States constitutional right. The 2nd Amendment recognizes this inherent right.”

Months later in 2015, when Idaho was moving toward constitutional carry, Bonner County Sheriff Daryl Wheeler spoke in favor of the ending the permitting process. He told NBC’s KHQ, “The right to bear arms is already in the constitution,” and he stressed his belief that its presence in the constitution means carrying a gun is “consistent with our federal statutes.”

In March 2017, when North Dakota adopted constitutional carry, the West Fargo Pioneer quoted Gov. Doug Burgum (R) saying, “North Dakota has a rich heritage of hunting and a culture of deep respect for firearm safety. As a hunter and gun owner myself, I strongly support gun rights for law-abiding citizens. House Bill 1169 allows citizens to exercise their Second Amendment right under the U.S. Constitution.”

Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds (R) signed constitutional carry into law on April 2, 2021. Upon signing the legislation, the Gazette quoted her saying, “We will never be able to outlaw or prevent every single bad actor from getting a gun, but what we can do is ensure law-abiding citizens have full access to their constitutional rights while keeping Iowans safe.”

When Montana Gov. Greg Gianforte signed a constitutional carry bill in February 2021, Montana Free Press quoted him saying, “Our Second Amendment is very clear: The right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed. Every law-abiding Montanan should be able to defend themselves and their loved ones.”

The shift away from permitting the exercise of Second Amendment rights is now front and center in Texas, where legislators have passed constitutional carry and are sending it to Gov. Greg Abbott’s desk. Abbott’s signature will make Texas the 21st constitutional carry state in the nation.

AWR Hawkins is an award-winning Second Amendment columnist for Breitbart News and the writer/curator of Down Range with AWR Hawkins, a weekly newsletter focused on all things Second Amendment. He is the political analyst for Armed American Radio. Follow him on Twitter: @AWRHawkins. Reach him directly at awrhawkins@breitbart.com. Sign up to get Down Range at breitbart.com/downrange.

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