A more than 30-year effort by the National Rifle Association (NRA) reached a milestone Friday as the Georgia legislature became the 25th state in the nation to pass constitutional carry. A movement long championed by the NRA, constitutional carry eliminates the need for government permission before a law-abiding individual can exercise their right to bear arms.
"The NRA paved the way for constitutional carry by first leading the charge for right-to-carry nearly 40 years ago. Today, every state, and the District of Columbia, provides for the carrying of a firearm for self-defense outside the home in some form, and half the nation recognizes the Second Amendment protects law-abiding citizens' right to self-defense as an inherent and inalienable right. NRA members have led this extraordinary brick-by-brick effort in building and expanding America's self-defense laws and we are not done!,” said Wayne LaPierre, CEO and executive vice president of the NRA.
The modern carry movement in America began in earnest in 1987 when NRA helped pass a law legalizing concealed carry outside the home for all law-abiding gun owners in Florida. This law established a “shall issue” permitting regime in Florida, meaning the state was required to issue a carry permit to anyone who applied and could legally possess a firearm. Over the next 15 years, NRA successfully worked to establish right-to-carry laws in 42 states. To this day, eight states have failed to pass such legislation. However, the NRA brought this issue to the Supreme Court last fall and if the court rules in favor of the Second Amendment, the door will be opened to eliminate restrictive carry regimes in those states in the near future.
Constitutional carry legislation, which eliminates the need for government permission before law-abiding gun owners can carry concealed firearms, was the natural next step after the success of “shall issue” legislation. In 2003, NRA helped to pass constitutional carry legislation in Alaska. Seven years later Arizona joined the fold, followed by Wyoming, Kansas, and Maine. Ten additional states passed similar legislation by 2019. And in the last two years, nine states have become constitutional carry states. With Georgia’s vote today, half of America provides law-abiding gun owners with the ability to carry without a permit from the state.
“This is a monumental moment for the Second Amendment, NRA members and gun owners nationwide," said Jason Ouimet, executive director of NRA's Institute for Legislative Action. "Half the country now rightfully recognizes the fundamental right to carry a firearm for self-defense as enshrined in our Constitution – as opposed to a government privilege that citizens must ask permission to exercise. Passing this essential legislation has been a priority for the NRA for many years, and we’re thrilled to celebrate this huge success.”
Constitutional carry does not affect previously issued permits to carry and allows those who still wish to obtain a permit in order to carry in states recognizing existing state permits to do so. It also does not allow anyone prohibited under state or federal law from possessing a firearm to carry a firearm.
When Gov. Kemp signs this legislation, Georgia will join Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, Idaho, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Maine, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, New Hampshire, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Vermont, West Virginia, and Wyoming, in allowing law-abiding individuals to carry a concealed handgun without a government-issued permit.