Tuesday, March 14, 2006

Shilling for the NRA

According to the NRA's Institute for Legislative Action, there is a Shall Issue Carry Bill being introduced in the State House of Representatives by Deborah Hudson (R-12th). Unfortunately the bill, HB 359, isn't showing up on the Delaware legislative website. Hopefully the text of the bill will be available soon.

Here is a basic primer on concealed carry laws. There are essentially four types: may issue, shall issue, Vermont, and none. Vermont style carry (also found in Alaska) means law-abiding citizens can concealed carry firearms without permits. None means there are no provisions for normal citizens to concealed carry in that state. The most common concealed carry systems are called "may issue" and "shall issue."

As Packing.org shows, Delaware is a "may" issue state. In Delaware, you have to take training classes and go through an application process involving references, etc. Then the state "may" give you a permit. Or not. Their choice. If this system seems like it may be prone to abuse, that's because it is. In "may issue" states, issuing authorities have based permit decisions on very specious grounds like skin color, bank account size, and friends in high places.

HB 359 would change Delaware from "may" to "shall" issue. I don't have specifics on the bill, but there will probably still be a training requirement and an involved application process. The difference is that when you apply the state "shall" give you a permit. Unless the state has grounds to deny your permit (like a history of mental problems or criminal activity), you must get your permit. No denial based on skin color or politics is possible.

Some claim that shall issue will turn your state into the wild wild west. This has never happened. Historically, shall issue is very safe. Data from Michigan has shown that permit holders are actually less prone to firearm and violent crime than police officers.

I like shall issue concealed carry. I have a real problem with the government restricting self defense rights without just cause. Shall issue fixes that, but weeds out potential wackos and ensures some level of basic firearms competency. I would also prefer that unlicensed carry take the form of legal open carry, not concealed carry.

Hopefully HB 359 will get us shall issue, but if not then we'll keep trying. Recent history has given us some very good gun laws, like mandatory state CCW permit reciprocity. Lets hope it gives us this one too.

Cross posting on Delaware 2006.

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