Constitutional carry: 2023 saw new milestone for gun rights

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2023 was a momentous year for permitless carry gun laws, with the U.S. officially becoming a constitutional carry-majority nation this spring. 

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“The gun control lobby and their allies pledged to dismantle self-defense laws and the Second Amendment. That strategy has backfired. In 2021, there were 16 states with NRA Constitutional Carry. Just three years later, there are 27 states. Americans in 11 states stood with freedom and the NRA,” NRA executive vice president and CEO Wayne LaPierre exclusively told Fox News Digital.  

Constitutional carry laws allow legal residents to carry a concealed firearm without a permit, effectively eliminating the need for qualifying residents to ask the government for permission to carry. 

Last year closed with 25 states passing permitless carry laws, with Georgia’s new law taking effect at the start of 2023. Florida had the honor of officially tipping America as a constitutional carry-majority nation in March, when the state Senate approved the bill and sent it to Gov. Ron DeSantis’ desk for his signature. 

NEBRASKA GOVERNOR SIGNS NRA-BACKED BILL THAT GROWS US CONSTITUTIONAL CARRY MAJORITY

Wayne LaPierre on stage

Wayne LaPierre, chief executive officer of the National Rifle Association (NRA), smiles during the NRA annual meeting of members in Indianapolis on Saturday, April 27, 2019. (Daniel Acker/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

“Constitutional Carry is in the books,” DeSantis said in April when he signed the NRA-backed law, which took effect in July. 

DESANTIS’ SIGNATURE TIPS US INTO MAJORITY ‘CONSTITUTIONAL CARRY’ NATION WITH NEW FLORIDA GUN RIGHTS LAW

Desantis signs bill

Gov. Ron DeSantis signed a constitutional carry bill into law on April 3. (NRA)

Florida was soon followed by Nebraska, where Republican Gov. Jim Pillen signed his state’s version into law. 

“Signing this bill upholds the promise I made to voters to protect our constitutional rights and promote commonsense, conservative values,” Pillen told Fox News Digital at the time. “I appreciate the hard work of those senators who supported this legislation, and particularly that of Sen. Brewer who led this charge and carried it through to the end.”

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That NRA-backed law took effect in September. 

Jim Pillen

Gov. Jim Pillen signing the NRA-backed constitutional carry bill into law. (NRA )

The full list of states with constitutional carry laws includes: Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Maine, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, New Hampshire, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Vermont, West Virginia and Wyoming. 

WHY GUN OWNERSHIP IS SPIKING AMONG THIS DEMOGRAPHIC

Fox News Digital reported earlier this year that as constitutional carry laws expanded to more states across the country, the number of Americans with concealed carry permits fell slightly in 2023. Though the numbers dipped, more Americans are actually carrying concealed firearms thanks to these laws, Crime Prevention Research Center (CPRC) founder and President John Lott told Fox News Digital last month. 

​​”I’ve been tracking the number of concealed carry permits since 1998,” Lott said. “And what you find is that this is the first year that there’s actually been a drop in the number of concealed carry permits. It’s not very much, but you basically see two different types of states. In the constitutional carry states, there was a drop. In all the other states, there was an increase.”

Man and handgun

A marksman sights in on a target during a class he was taking to qualify for a concealed carry permit. (Scott Olson/Getty Images)

A CPRC study found a 0.5% decrease in concealed carry holders across the U.S. this year compared to 2022. 

DECLINE IN NEW GUN PERMITS DOESN’T TELL WHOLE STORY ABOUT HOW MANY AMERICANS CARRY: EXPERT

“The main reason for the drop is that the number of permits declines gradually in the constitutional carry states even though it is clear that more people are legally carrying,” the study found. 

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Lott explained that obtaining a concealed carry permit in the 23 states where there are no constitutional carry laws can be an expensive endeavor, and by eliminating those heavy costs, more people will carry. Lowering costs also changes the “mix of people who get permits” and leads to “a lot more permits issued in heavily minority, poor zip codes,” where crime often lurks, allowing law-abiding residents to better protect themselves. 

Wayne LaPierre at event

Wayne LaPierre, CEO and executive vice president of the National Rifle Association, speaks at an event. (NRA )

LaPierre continued in his statement that the NRA will continue championing constitutional carry legislation until it is the “law of the land.” 

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“With NRA Constitutional Carry, law-abiding citizens are able to defend themselves without having government permission first. That is why NRA won’t stop until Constitutional Carry is the law of the land,” LaPierre said. 

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