Oklahoma Governor Mary Fallin (R) was criticized harshly by Second Amendment groups last month as she vetoed a Constitutional carry bill passed by both houses of the state’s legislature. The bill would have allowed law-abiding citizens to carry firearms concealed without obtaining a permit from the state. In explaining her opposition to the bill, she said in part:
“Senate Bill 1212 eliminates the training requirements for persons carrying a firearm in Oklahoma.” – Press Release
Two weeks later, the Tennessee legislature also rejected constitutional carry for law-abiding citizens age 21 and up, with Senator Todd Gardenhire (R) suggesting that the law “disenfranchises” people between ages 18-21.
“People at 18 can join the military, he said, but wouldn’t be able to carry a handgun in the state.” – Times Free Press
Senator Gardenhire was somehow not aware that people under 21 already cannot purchase handguns in the state.
Oklahoma and Tennessee legislators seems to be concerned with a potential spike in gun violence or accidental firearm deaths with the passage of Constitutional carry. But West Virginia is an excellent example of the outcomes typically associated with right-to-carry laws.
West Virginia became a Constitutional carry state in 2016. According to the state’s Health Statistics Center, gun homicides dropped in the first year by 33%, from 66 deaths to 49. Accidental gun deaths in the state barely exist, dropping from three deaths to two over the same time frame. Gun suicides dropped 11%.
There is no reason to believe that WV’s right-to-carry legislation is the cause of the drop in gun homicides, and as you can see, the fluctuation is within normal limits over the past decade.
But West Virginia is yet another state in which we can see that Constitutional carry does not lead to increased gun homicides, accidents or suicides.
Thirteen states currently allow Constitutional carry: Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, Idaho, Kansas, Maine, Mississippi, Missouri, New Hampshire, North Dakota, Vermont, West Virginia, and Wyoming.
Six of the ten states with the lowest gun homicide rates are on that list, suggesting that perhaps the freedom to carry does not correlate with gun violence. (But you already knew that.)
Despite its support of Constitutional carry, Defense In Depth is unwavering in its belief that training is of key importance to anyone who chooses to exercise their Second Amendment rights. (See our post: “Why Get a Concealed Carry Permit in West Virginia?”)
For Tennessee and Oklahoma residents who are distressed by the events of the past month, we offer you this encouraging GIF of how right-to-carry laws have changed since 1986. It’s getting better. We promise.