Half of the states have laws allowing permitless concealed carry of firearms. Before members happily let their state-issued carry permit expire, some are asking if we know of unexpected pitfalls in permitless carry. This is a great topic for discussion in our online member journal, so we reached out to our affiliated attorneys, asking their thoughts on the question. While encouraging them to go beyond our questions, we tried to start the discussion by posing the following questions:
In general, what is your opinion of permitless carry laws?
For our Affiliated Attorneys in states with constitutional carry--
- Have armed citizens violated other laws by exceeding the allowances of your state’s permitless carry legislation? What problems have most frequently arisen?
- Are citizens keeping concealed carry licenses for reciprocal license recognition when they travel outside your state? Are there other reasons to keep your state’s carry permit?
- Without carry permits, how have police procedures changed when officers have contact with armed individuals?
Attorneys practicing in a state that has not passed laws allowing permitless concealed carry--
- Do you wish your state would allow permitless carry? Why or why not?
- What advantages, if any, do your armed citizen clients have because they have a carry permit? If your state passed a permitless carry law, would you suggest armed citizens in your state let their permits expire or continue to renew their permits?
We then stepped aside and enjoyed learning from an extremely wide-ranging set of opinions. This question will run both in May and June, and we hope you learn as much from our affiliated attorneys’ contributions as we did.
Randy L. Robinson
Attorney at Law
P. O. Box 682, Augusta, ME 04332
In Maine, when I attended the legislative discussion on constitutional carry, I knew the Wild West would be brought up, and it was. Classic example of predictable liberal alarmism. Anyway, Maine’s results have been positive. Very low crime rate here. I have been affiliated with Armed Citizens for years and have yet to get a call to defend a member in a self-defense situation.
Some people, myself included, do keep their permits to make it easier to carry in other states. Not required but it makes sense. Also, it’s impossible to predict when Biden or some other liberal power broker will try to limit the right of states to allow permitless carry. That could result in a court fight, but people don’t want to be unarmed in the meantime.
Otherwise, I’ve noticed no particular changes since we went to constitutional carry. Bad people are still bad, and good ones are still good.
Jerold E. Levine
Attorney At Law
5 Sunrise Plaza, Suite 102, Valley Stream, NY 11580
New York has no permitless or constitutional carry.
My opinion of permitless and constitutional carry laws: Wonderful. No license. No “administrative state” with fiat rules. No surly licensing officials who think they are doing you a favor by permitting you to have your rights.
Do I wish New York would have permitless or constitutional carry? Yes, I see no negatives, but, that will never happen here, unless there is another revolution.
What advantages would there be in getting or keeping a carry license, even if permitless or constitutional carry existed? The first advantage is that other states with reciprocity laws might recognize the license, whereas without a license there could be less reciprocity. This assumes that New York reciprocally would recognize out-of-state carry licenses, which New York does not.
The second advantage is that — and this sounds strange to those who do not live in super-left places like New York — having a permit makes the gun possession appear more legitimate.
I have often seen this in criminal cases. The DA takes a kinder view of an out-of-state defendant who illegally brought their gun into New York if the defendant has a license in their home state. The mentality here is so oriented toward government permission that having a license makes you appear more legitimate. This would apply to in-state residents, also. If you find yourself on trial for a gun-related incident, the fact that you have a license gives your gun possession extra legitimacy; “you were approved by the police.”
The negative to having a license is that you come under the rules of the licensing agency, and those might be much more restrictive than if you just rely on permitless carry. If you violate the rules, your license is revoked, and now you have a license revocation on your record, which can affect many other things. Depending on how the permitless carry law is written, the revocation might affect your ability to carry without a permit thereafter.
An analogy is the difference between police shootings and ordinary citizen shootings. Ordinary citizens can use deadly force if the law permits that privilege in a particular situation. The police have the same privilege, but they also have department rules which additionally govern their use of deadly force. So, if the police shoot someone, they may have had the privilege under law, but if the shooting violated department rules, they lose their job.
The same idea applies to gun licensing. Having a license almost certainly will subject you to rules that will not apply with permitless carry. The rules may not restrict the use of deadly force precisely, but very likely they will restrict other things, like display (“brandishing”), the method of carry, the type of gun or its characteristics, e.g., size, barrel length. These and many more are restrictions which have been imposed by New York pistol licensing offices.
So, if you can be very attentive to the rules and not cause the licensing agency any concern, get or keep a carry license even if permitless or constitutional carry exists, because if you must use the gun for self defense, and you do not violate any of the license restrictions, the DA or the jury may look more favorably upon you.
Law Office of Brian Craig, PLLC
95 West 100 South, Suite 106, Logan, UT 84321
To further protect Second Amendment rights, Utah adopted a constitutional right to carry a concealed firearm without a permit in 2021. Utah joined several other states that have adopted a constitutional right to carry a firearm without a permit. In 2021, Utah Governor Spencer Cox signed into law H.B. 60 that allows Utah residents to carry concealed weapons without a permit. Utah residents can still obtain a concealed carry permit to allow gun owners who want to concealed carry out-of-state. The law amends Utah Code § 76-10-523 which provides for those persons who are exempt from certain weapon laws. The exemption applies to any person 21 years old or older who “may otherwise lawfully possess a firearm.” The language “may otherwise lawfully possess a firearm” is key. Some individuals may be restricted as a result of convictions. For example, certain individuals who have been convicted of a felony or a misdemeanor crime of domestic violence are prohibited from carrying a firearm. Those individuals who are on probation or parole may also be restricted from carrying a firearm. Individuals who are restricted can file an expungement to restore their gun rights if they qualify.
Since Utah did away with the law requiring a permit to carry a concealed firearm, the number of in-state applications for concealed carry permits has declined significantly. Some Utahns, however, still have a concealed carry permit issued by Utah as they travel out of state. Others may keep a permit for sentimental reasons. In contrast, the number of out-of-state applications has surged. Utah concealed firearms permits have always been popular, and out-of-state applications are typically higher than those coming from Utahns. Utah has a high reciprocity rate which is valid in more than 30 other states.
Based on anecdotal evidence, police procedures have generally not changed when officers have contact with armed individuals. Utah has passed, however, new legislation restricting the use of no-knock warrants and other warrants. On March 22, 2022, Utah Governor Spencer Cox signed into law H.B. 124, which restricts so called “no-knock warrants” and other warrants. The law created a new statute, Utah Code § 77-7-8.1, which requires exigent circumstances for so-called no-knock warrants. Furthermore, the law bans no-knock warrants for misdemeanor investigations. The law requires officers serving knock and announce and no-knock warrants to wear readily identifiable markings or clothing that identify them as law enforcement officers. In addition, the law requires that officers knock and announce themselves more than once before forcibly entering a building and sets a preference for warrants to be served during daytime hours.
Edward J. Zohn
Zohn & Zohn LLP
7 Mount Bethel Road, Warren NJ 07059
I live in New Jersey, a state which does not even have “shall issue” permits. (Note: most everyone in the pro-gun movement outside of NJ likes to forget about NJ, because they think my state is a lost cause…) However, the “shall issue” issue is not your question.
I don’t believe in so-called constitutional carry. The public policy, criminal justice and safety issues are immense. I am very wary of being in a place where most everyone can carry a firearm with no oversight whatsoever. I can’t even think of a corollary. A concealed firearm is, or should be, a last ditch method of self defense.
Constitutional carry psychologically elevates the concealed firearm to a much higher level. I don’t want to go down the “toxic masculinity” rabbit hole, but we shouldn’t easily dismiss the psychological and sociological aspects of being armed—and needing to be armed—24-7. I have lived in cities and suburbs and smaller towns throughout my 65 years, including New York, Chicago, Pittsburgh, Philadelphia. I have never, I repeat, never, been in a situation where a concealed firearm would have helped me or held any advantage. I suppose if I had a permit or was able to carry concealed permitless, I would carry when I am hiking in the woods or hunting, but that would be more for black bear protection than anything else.
Some in the movement may think, incorrectly, that these views are “anti-gun” and that I sold out. However, I believe that we should be able to purchase most anything we want—large magazines, any kind of semi-auto, etc. If the pro-gun movement espouses “it’s the person, not the gun,” in which I believe, then we should take that statement to heart.
So my answer to your questions above would be:
Do you wish your state would allow permitless carry? Why or why not?
No; see above.
What advantages, if any, do your armed citizen clients have because they have a carry permit? If your state passed a permitless carry law, would you suggest armed citizens in your state let their permits expire or continue to renew their permits?
Keep and renew your permit; it is evidence of fitness.
One more thing: It’s time to dispel the notion, which has never been true but which has always been believed by urban and suburban anti-gun people, that all gun owners are camo-clothed, rural, extreme conservatives that only care about “freedom” but ignore the social responsibility that must go hand-in-hand with the freedom. There are many suburban and exurban liberals like me who favor gun ownership but are very wary of the “all guns, all the time mindset.” The pro-gun community cannot be one size fits all, or it will wither and start racking up legislative losses. Every time there is a road-rage incident with unpermitted drivers, which is bound to happen in some states but which is virtually non-existent in New Jersey, besides the obvious tragedy there will be a whole mess of bad press.
Before we forget, we have one last entry to add to last month’s Attorney Question of the Month in which our Director of Legal Services, Art Joslin, who also does expert witness work, queried our affiliated attorneys about their experiences working with expert witnesses in self defense cases. We asked–
What has been your experience using self defense expert witnesses? What issues have you found most common in getting an expert admitted?
Kelly & Chapman
PO Box 168, Portland, ME 04101
Frankly, I’ve never had to use an outside expert. Often, there are “experts” within the incident who are also fact witnesses, only getting paid overtime (maybe not even that if it is during work hours) and who aren’t as likely to be viewed as “guns for hire.”
My very first jury trial was a shooting of a police officer by a subject, and the above worked just fine for me.
Another approach is focusing on reconstructing the event. In the State v. Williams case (my wife is working on the appeal for the state), the focus was on an animation and graphic reconstruction of the shooting. Once the dynamics of the event were laid out, the rest was easy. The officer was on the ground on his knees and one hand, raising his arm up in a futile attempt to ward off the bullet that followed.
Thank you, affiliated attorneys, for sharing your experiences and opinions. Members, please return next month for more commentary on permitless carry.
To read more of this month's journal, please click here.