Guns

Gun Decontrol, 1986 to Now

The latest map of state laws related to concealed carry, 1986 to 2019, is out -- and it's striking.

|The Volokh Conspiracy |

[UPDATE: Though the original map, available here, shows changes each year, I can't seem to make that work here, so I've just included the static 1986 and 2019 maps for now; working on trying to make the dynamic map work.]

"Unrestricted" means that, generally speaking, any law-abiding adult can carry a gun concealed in public places without a license. (This used to be so only in Vermont; many people, I've found, are surprised by that being the one state.)

"Shall-issue" means that any law-abiding adult (in some states, limited to over-21-year-olds) can get a license to carry concealed, and the government has minimum discretion to deny that license.

"May-issue" means that the government can choose whether to give people concealed carry licenses. (This may vary sharply from county to country or city to city in the state.)

"No-issue" means that concealed carry is categorically forbidden to ordinary citizens (with some exceptions for government employees and perhaps some private security professionals).

From the Radical Gun Nuttery! site, but despite the name (either of that site or of this one), the data seems pretty accurate. You can agree or disagree on whether the change has been a good idea, of course, but it's an important reality to keep in mind when thinking about the shape of modern American gun policy.

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81 responses to “Gun Decontrol, 1986 to Now

  1. Gun civil rights are the one great conservative policy victory.

    1. Current push back by anti-gun (and anti-self-defense) hysterics threatens to make it an evanescent one.

      1. If the recent court cases result in strict scrutiny for Second Amendment rights, it will get better.

        1. IANAL of course.

        2. I’m somewhat pessimistic, because strict scrutiny would result in an awful lot of stupid gun laws being overturned, and the Court is highly reluctant to overturn large numbers of laws en mass.

          At least the conservatives on the Court are, and strict scrutiny for 2nd amendment cases isn’t going to get any votes from the ‘liberals’.

    2. No the only one, but it is a big one. Another one is that nobody was calling for wage and price controls during the last recession. And nobody mainstream is calling for them today. Milton Friedman et. al has banished those bad ideas to the wilderness for at least a generation or two.

      However, it is a good question to ask, though, why the right is so united on the issue. My theory is that the requirement for Texas primary votes has pushed the GOPe to NOT be accomodationist on this. In the 1970s, for example, Nixon’s admin was very pro gun control.

      1. I think a good part of it is the internet robbing the MSM of their capacity to gate keep; There was a lot of preference falsification on this topic, where a majority of Republicans were pro-gun, but each of them was isolated from the others, and given the impression by media coverage that they were a member of a fringe minority.

        As the MSM lost the capacity to maintain illusions like that, pro gunners came to recognize that they weren’t a minority among Republicans, and were much more aggressive about flexing their political power.

        1. Whereas I think you make a good point, in a completely unscientific way I am not sure I think that it has much to do with guns in particular, because it’s so wrapped up in the larger debate about reasons for our country’s increased partisan polarization.

          If I had to guess, I would say 1) need for Texas votes and 2) hunting declining as a reason to own a gun and self-defense rising as its place (wider support base in an urban world) 3) gun marketing towards women 4) the largish “intense minority” who really, really care about gun rights holding politicians of both parties accountable when the sell out and compromise our rights away (for example, G.H.W. Bush).

        2. I think the crime wave leading up to the 90s contributed a lot, and once the base was in place, it was too powerful of a group to stop. I think the NRA must get lots of credit as well.

          1. Some credit, but it wasn’t the NRA that pulled off the Heller win, in fact they tried to sabotage the case. I understand their motives for doing so, but it’s still the case that, if the NRA had its way, we wouldn’t have had the Heller win.

            1. Heller came out in 2008. Most of the movement to to unrestricted happened a decade or so later.

  2. You say, “This used to be so only in Vermont;”

    But looking at the map, it appears that it is still so only in Vermont?

    1. Never mind, was going by your still photo…clicked the link for the interactive.

  3. The data is accurate, he provides a link to a major media site for every change in law. That guy is doing great work.

  4. What makes me nervous (and excited as well) about this map is 1) its misleading because this only shows *Concealed carry permitting* . many states have been open carry for a very long time. In fact CA used to be an open carry state until recently; 2) When people discuss the “history and tradition” of the 2nd amendment right to bear arms, this creates the impression shall-issue carry is a relatively recent thing. It’s not when you factor in open carry.

    As far as history and tradition, the point I see rarely brought up in briefs (and always wonder why) is a discussion about the history of common law or statutory self defense outside the home. In every state, “self defense” is a defense if one is charged with say murder, even when that murder happened on the street.

    There are some state-by-state conditions which I wont elaborate – you may have to show attempt to retreat, not be the aggressor, show threat of imminent harm or forcible felony like robbery or rape – But the point is, the very existence of this defense at common law presumes one carries the tools to do so. Many states, like Maryland, inherited common law of self defense from English law. The core right to bear arms outside the home, it seems to me, is deeply rooted in the English Common law allowance of self defense as a defense when charged with murder etc. It is hard to reconcile the allowance of self defense at common law with the inability to carry the tools to defend oneself.

    1. “…many states have been open carry for a very long time”, but very few of them had any current tradition of doing so. This is why the spread of shall-issue and constitutional-carry is such a big deal.

      1. I don’t think that’s true. PA and Virginia have been open carry forever and its pretty common to see, which ash has been true forever as well. Find a Bass Pro or Cabelas in either state and head there on a weekend. Open carry is nothing new in either state.

        People seem to be under the impression legalizing carry means suddenly everyone carries. Nope. Even in PA with a long tradition of carry, about 10% of the population carries. You can attribute this in part to herd immunity: If 5 people around me are carrying and I am traveling in a group, the marginal benefit of me carrying is smaller than if I am traveling alone after dark. Predators attack weak prey, a large group in a well it area is not easy prey.

        The real irony is that the places/times I am most likely to need to carry are the places I cannot carry.

        1. It’s very much true.

          I was quite active on open carry.org during this seminal time when a lot of the current open carry activism was going on. The name Phil Van Cleave is very familiar to me, though of course I’ve never met him since I live on the opposite coast.

          There’s absolutely no way you would have seen the degree of open carry in Virginia or Pennsylvania in 1986 that you do today.

          1. Open Carry “activism” is an entirely different thing. There are lots of people who actually open carry as a practical matter for SD, not as a statement on gun normalization or to make a political statement, and many dont belong to any group.

            I saw a lot of open carry back in the day when I lived in PA. Perhaps not in Pittsburgh or Philly. Definitely in Pennsyltucky. My Dad (in PA) kept a revolver right on the toolbox at the construction site. Well before 1986. Yikes, not even a holster. Off body unholstered carry is not good by today’s standards. But that was open carry by older standards. Turn in the wrong driveway in rural PA you would be greeted by a person from down the street, minding the neighbors house, holding a shotgun. You dont even want to conceal a shotgun in that situation, the intimidation is the point (“Who are you and what is your business?” sounds more serious from behind a 12 gauge). Again, not exactly the kind of open carry you mean, open carry nonetheless. I see a lot of open carry in Maryland today, just not the kind you think. Not in Bodymore, but you will definitely see it in rural areas.

            What people used to define as open carry before open carry activism was more practical and situation based. Its still open carry.

            1. Just to add: my Dad did a lot of “open carry” but would have thought very little of open carry activism. He would have thought a gun was a tool, like a drill, to be carried when needed. Not a thing to use for political activism. He would have thought as much about open carry activism as he would have thought about carrying a hammer to fight for workers rights.

              1. Sure, for workers’ rights, you need to carry a hammer *and* sickle.

                1. *rimshot*

        2. Most people don’t carry because most people aren’t afraid they’re going to need the gun. No one I know who carries would choose not to carry so long as another person they were with was carrying.

  5. Where is the good Reverend ranting about being on “the right side of history”?

    1. He’s like a moron Voldemort…don’t say his name lest you gain his attention.

    2. You’re going to equate this one instance against all the progressive steps the US has taken (e.g. 14A, Civil Rights Act, Brown v Board, Miranda, ADA, establishment of EPA, SSM, etc)?

      We are on a progressive arc.

      It’s not linear and there are occasional set backs.

      But it’s still progressive and there’s no sigs of a sea change.

      Good luck with whatever you’re looking for.

      1. The ADA was bipartisan, GHW Bush was president and signed it happily into law. Conservatives realized that they were but one car accident away from disability themselves, and we all get old if we don’t die first, so it was a priority for them as well.

        Moreover, the ADA was a *conservative* victory in its passage because the Dems were prevented from creating a Federal Department of Disability Access, like OSHA or some such, that would give the government even more power over commerce.

        Furthermore, it was Nixon, a conservative Republican, who created and set up the EPA, and many of it’s missions, like the Endangered Species Act, despite the excesses of the Courts have been a bi-partisan effort (for the most part).

        Your attempt at whiggish history fails, because progressivism often was a bane for freedom and liberty, they were noted eugenicists.

        What you are right on, is that history has seen a flowing of individual rights. But it’s not because of any natural law, it’s just a product of Western civilization and biblical culture where there is the belief that every human being (except for the unborn I guess these days) are made in the image of God.

      2. They will obey our preferences, apedad . . . unless they persuade young people that backwardness, ignorance, and bigotry are attractive, and cause states such as California and New York to resemble Alabama, West Virginia, Mississippi and Wyoming.

        I strongly support their right to whine, bluster, whimper, and lie about it. They must toe the line, however.

        Oh, I almost forgot the other great conservative hope . . . if they perfect a machine that mass-produces poorly educated, disaffected, superstitious, rural, diffusely intolerant, stale-thinking, downscale, rural, gun-fondling, southern, elderly white males — and if Republicans lawyers such as the Conspirators figure a way to register the newly minted goobers to vote — America’s liberals, moderates, libertarians, and RINOs could have a real problem on their hands.

        Otherwise, I expect another half-century of liberal-libertarian mainstream progress that continues to make America great.

        1. This has got to be a parody account. No one can be that insufferably stale and stupid without trying, can they?

          1. He’s a long-term troll. Just ignore him and move on.

        2. Rev, you appear! I knew you’d come.

          It’s nice here that you admit, backhandedly at least, that liberal control of the K-12 education and many universities is the required indoctrination for progressivism to have a future, lest our youth be naturally conservative via human nature and rationality itself.

          1. Is it liberals’ fault that our strongest schools are liberal-libertarian mainstream schools, or that the hundreds of conservative-controlled campuses in America tend to be fourth-tier, censorship-shackled, nonsense-teaching, dogma-enforcing, low-grade goober farms?

            I believe that conservatives would build some strong schools if they could, and would refrain from operating hundreds of bottom-of-the-barrel schools if they could. But they can’t. Right-wingers should ponder that (as the sensible conservatives send their children to Berkeley, Harvard, and Reed rather than to Liberty, Hillsdale, or Ouachita Baptist).

            1. The only nonsensical dogma comes from the left. A few are “Intelligence is equally distributed among the races,” “It’s ‘settled science’ that human CO2 emissions cause climate change,” and “It’s normal and healthy to put one’s penis into another man’s rear and get ‘married.'”

            2. There is a huge network of home schooling, private schools, and Catholic schools which are there as alternatives to liberal K-12 indoctrination. They are growing in size, and as conservatives continue to advance school choice, more and more of the public education system will “wither away” (to put it into terms you will understand).

              As for universities, the move against college for all is already afoot. Why have $30k of debt when a trade school works just as well for most people. The pushback against the infection of the hard sciences like what happened to sociology etc. is underway and gaining traction. That your average college student can get a degree in engineering or something practical and avoid liberal foolishness for 95% of their 4 years is the only reason that public universities are not getting more defunded by conservatives legislatures than they already are.

              So, in sum, it’s not as rosy for your particular brand of foolishness as you think.

              1. You guys stick with your homeschooling, backwater religious schools, and fourth-tier (or unranked) conservative colleges.

                The American mainstream will settle for Michigan, Columbia, Williams, Yale, Amherst, Princeton, Berkeley, NYU, and similar institutions that conservatives despise.

                Surely the right-wing educational advantage will change the tide of the culture war any day now.

                1. So, you don’t have anything to say about school choice’s continued advance putting a Titanic size hole in your argument about how liberal schools will continue to indoctrinate our youth? You know, it’s black democrats trapped in crappy inner city schools run by your preferred party that are for school choice, in a case odd political bedfellows, with religious conservatives. Nothing to say about that, eh?

                  And the hard sciences in Michigan, Columbia, etc. etc. remain largely unaffected by the mental illness infecting the social sciences…and this is why plenty of conservatives are more than willing to go there and not Hillsdale. Do you have anything to say about that either?

            3. Well, the Dems do have a more diverse base. Although given recent evidence it’s possible that the Dems minority support comes from white people wearing blackface.

        3. “They will obey our preferences, apedad…”

          Yup. No more air travel in 10 years, economic security for those unwilling to work, and a whole buttload for free stuff for everybody!! We’re gonna make it happen people!

      3. The 14th amendment and three of the eight Civil Rights Acts were written before Progressivism was even a nascent ideology. Early civil rights legislation was necessitated by the existence of Radical Republicans (though they felt the laws didn’t go far enough). They certainly weren’t Progressive: many Radicals became Stalwarts and supported the traditional nepotism of politics.

        It’s odd to ascribe these achievements to Progressivism when other political ideologies of each time period were more powerful. I note that you don’t actually cite any positive changes during the Progressive Era itself; I guess you don’t like Prohibition, the resegregation of the armed forces, or the forced sterilizations of criminals, homosexuals, Native Americans, and the mentally retarded?

        1. There’s an interesting connection between the Stalwarts and the Progressives that I hadn’t noticed before. The Stalwarts loved the spoils system and hated the blind meritocracy and then that meritocracy had its sight restored during the Progressive Era to require photographs of applicants for federal employment. The change allowed the government to select against blacks based on their photographs, ending the blind meritocracy. Previously the federal government was a way for blacks to get a decent job and the ability to move.

        2. What ridiculous responses:

          It was done under Nixon…
          It was done before the Progressive era…

          It doesn’t matter when it was done or who did it–we’re still on a progressive arc.

          And about Prohibition, segregation, etc., apparently your reading comprehension isn’t all that hot since I clearly said (and I was say this when talking about the arc of progress), the arc is NOT linear and that have been set backs.

          But the arc is still there and it ain’t changing its overall direction.

          Onwards and upwards!

          1. Your underlying fallacy is assuming that that the (not as big as you think) “progressive” arc *is* progress. It’s an arc toward an increase in individual rights, not necessarily an arc toward human flourishing or “progress”. In many respects, liberalism has failed. You need to brush up on your Nietzsche.

            I also note you how don’t acknowledge the ADA being primarily a conservative solution to increased access for the disabled to mainstream society, and handwave away the inconvenient fact that Nixon created the EPA because everyone, not just libs, want sclean air and clean water. That’s a pretty big mistake on your part. The only difference between conservatives and liberals is where we draw the line with regard to environmentalism over economic growth. It’s all trade-offs ya know. But maybe that cognitive dissonance was to much for your circuits when you’re reflexively GOP=bad guys.

            1. “It’s an arc toward an increase in individual rights,”

              Only in some regards. In other regards, it’s an arc towards a decrease in individual rights. The “Progressives” don’t have a lot of use for freedom of association, for instance, or religious liberty, or property rights. Increasingly no use for freedom of political speech, either.

              And, especially, no use for 2nd amendment rights.

              1. Good points, fair enough.

          2. If we get to call things by names that didn’t exist at the time, I think I’ll just go ahead and claim that the Civil Rights Acts were part of a libertarian arc, and that the set backs are the progressive arc.

  6. What amazes me about that is that it’s still a topic of conversation. I can see that in 1980 or whatever, reasonable people might think “hey, Vermont, Washington, and ??Iowa?? are aberrations. Sure, they haven’t seen any problems, but it would be different in Florida/Nebraska/Utah/wherever”. But we have conducted the experiment over and over. It’s hard to see how even the most fervent gun rights opponents can still predict problems with a straight face.

    When, for example, NYC maintains that letting people with premises permits transport the gun locked and cased to an out of city range will result in problems, that’s just not a reality based viewpoint. I’m all for mocking politicians that, say, espouse young earth creationism. The same applies to ones that still predict mayhem from shall issue CCW.

    1. Lying to your face about it is as much an expression of raw power as the infringement itself. It’s a way of saying, “I don’t even have to bother making my lies plausible, that’s how little your opinion matters to me.”

      1. The arrogance of the ruling class is immense.

  7. Thanks for the reminder, I’ve just contacted my state reps about H 3456, to move S.C. from “shall issue” to “unrestricted”.

  8. That’s great for CCW, but what about the plethora of legislation making its way through various states these days regarding assault-weapons bans, limiting magazines to 5 rounds, removing the right to privately manufacture firearms for individual/private use, serialization requirements for handgun ammo, etc? IME there’s LOTS of scary stuff coming ‘down the pipe’, and I’m quite concerned about it.

    See https://www.reddit.com/r/NOWTTYG/ for extensive examples and more.

    1. It’s the ongoing sorting of the nation, the outlier locations are getting ever more outlier, especially in the absence of Supreme court pushback.

  9. Minor point: Oregon state is shall issue for residents, but may issue for nonresidents. Oregon does not recognize any other state’s concealed carry permits. Marion county’s official policy is that they will not issue permits to nonresidents, period. Multnomah used to also refuse to issue non-resident permits, but apparently have changed policy.

  10. It should be noted, however, that most of the “no issue” states (like Texas) in 1986 permitted unrestricted open carry. It’s really only Illinois, New York, New Jersey, and California that prohibited all.

    1. More shocking to most people than Vermont having never banned concealed carry in the first place is that 46 states have always allowed some form of unpermitted carry (whether open or concealed, handguns or long guns)

      Even California allowed unloaded open carry of handguns until recently (sure unloaded isn’t particularly useful, but I’d wager most of use can insert a magazine and rack the slide a heck of a lot faster than a cop can show up)

  11. And yet the gun nuts’ paranoia about guns being confiscated, etc. only heightens.

    1. http://mgaleg.maryland.gov/web…..&ys=2019RS

      It’s not paranoia if they really are out to get you.

    2. “gun nuts’ ”

      People seeking civil rights are “nuts” now?

      Gun rights are civil rights.

      1. So long as you say that the baker is violating your civil rights, Bob from Ohio agrees that it’s an important right that you be able to buy cakes from them.

        1. “The right of the people to keep and eat cakes shall not be infringed”
          -United States Constitution (1789)

          1. Not any cakes – just gay cakes.
            Religious cakes are too dangerous to allow the people the have.

        2. *sigh*

          The Gaystapo could buy any cake they wanted off the shelf. They can’t force the baker at gunpoint to make a work of art with which he disagrees.

          Why is that so hard for you people to understand?

  12. Wonder if the NRA played a major role over the years in this part of MAGA?

  13. The source material is wrong for Georgia. Its been shall issue since 1976.

    The didn’t go by when the law was enacted. They went with the date of when 1 of 159 probate judges asked the AG for an unofficial (nonbinding) opinion in 1989 and that is the date that gets repeated.

  14. This article speaks of “right to carry” but, of course, there is no right to concealed carry under the Second Amendment or under the California Constitution. It would be interesting to see a list of states where concealed carry is a right under the state constitutions.

    I suspect that it would be a very short list.

    P.S. If you think there has been a radical change since 1986, take a look at the handful of states in 1980 which even allowed for concealed carry with a permit. And then go back decade by decade and you will discover not only near-universal bans on concealed carry but bans on concealable firearms.

    https://CaliforniaOpenCarry.com

    1. The 2nd amendment doesn’t specify a method of bearing arms, so logically all forms of bearing arms, open and concealed, should be considered protected

      Just like the 1st amendment doesn’t specify which religions can be freely exercised, or which means of promulgating speech cannot be abridged, so the conclusion is that all all protected

      1. Amusingly, concealed carry WAS frequently banned during the Founding era. It was often considered to be something only an assassin or bandit would do, and IIRC that most of the colonies either banned or had restrictions on concealed carry.

        These days, open carry is under attack, but concealed carry is become more accepted…

      2. Except that at the time of the Founding at least one state Constitution did specifically allow for the regulation of concealed carry and concealed carry prohibitions were common.

        I’ve never read any commentary by the Founders that they considered such restrictions an infringement upon the right to arms.

        Indeed, at the time, if there was a stigma upon carrying it was a stigma upon concealed carrying.

        Though you can “bear” either concealed or openly the question is what did the Founders mean when they wrote the 2A.

        I’m not certain at all that they meant concealed carry.

      3. There is a lot of “old” VC content on this. Basically, the late eighteenth and early nineteenth century evidence, mostly state legislation and court decisions, shows a general and powerful hostility toward concealed carry. So if the Framers of the Second Amendment understood the Constitution to secure a right to concealed carry, they thought it was a right against the federal government only.

  15. P.S. “Concealed carry is of no use to me. I don’t carry a purse or wear a dress.”

    https://CaliforniaOpenCarry.com

    1. I don’t carry a purse or wear a dress either. My Shield conceals very nicely under an untucked shirt.

      1. Here in SC you can carry a concealed knife, no problem, so long as you’re not going to use it to commit a crime. When my arthritic ankle gets a bit worse, I’m getting a sword cane.

        1. First thing I did in SC last year was open carry, simply because I could

  16. The fact that Roberts denied the abortion case makes me think he’s fully liberal now and wil rule for gun control.

    1. Or, perhaps it means Roberts looks very unkindly on a government’s attempt to infringe on a constitutional right via indirect and unjustified restrictions. If so, he may rule against stupid and ineffective gun control laws.

      Or, he may just redefine a restriction on ownership as a “tax” and decide it’s okay… Who knows?

      I suspect, though, that he may be enjoying being the swing vote now. Of course if RBG were to pass on in the next 12 to 18 months, he would likely lose that power in many cases.

      1. “Or, perhaps it means Roberts looks very unkindly on a government’s attempt to infringe on a constitutional right via indirect and unjustified restrictions.”

        Well, yeah, but if he thinks abortion is actually a constitutional right, he’s fully liberal now and will rule for gun control.

        Optimistic scenario is that he still understands that Roe v Wade was BS, but gets pissed when governments try to circumvent even bad Supreme court rulings.

      2. Assuming that he actually believes the farce that abortion is a constitutional right in the first place. In any event, I think it’s more that being a darling to the liberal establishment is more important to him.

  17. Law and order conservative tyrants are preferred to the chaos and anarchy of the progressive demagogues. That is why Adolph Shikelgruber (‘eggcorn’!) was democratically elected.

    From my cold dead hands works for me.

    Trump 2020 vision for the future. Make America Great Again, Armed and Save Again, Wholesome Again.

    1. Yeah, “take the guns first, due process later”.

      Not sure I can depend on Trump to protect the right to arms.

      1. No, you can’t depend on Trump, who has his finger to the wind on this issue. Witness his stupid administrative move on bump stocks that is likely to be overturned by the courts because as this blog has noted, the ATF doesn’t have the authority to do the ban, which even Obama’s admin knew. So, as long has he knows he has to be pro-gun (enough) to keep his base going into 2020, we will be fine.

    2. Wholesome? I thought the whole talking point on why we don’t care that he’s a scumbag is that he’s not our pastor.

  18. As a Vermont resident, I used to feel privileged to have the right to carry without a permit.

    But in today’s world of reciprocal agreements recognizing out-of-state permits, I find that Vermont residents are singled out because we have no permits.

    Apparently, the Vermont Constitution prohibits the state from issuing gun permits. I wonder if they could change the driver’s licenses to read “Vehicle Operator and Gun Carrier”?

    How ironic.

    p.s. I don’t own a gun, I just rejoice in my right to own and carry one if I wished.

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