Gun supporters and gun protesters alike have almost unanimously come together to draw the line on one aspect of the debate — that people need to obtain a permit to carry a concealed weapon.
With the help of Everytown for Gun Safety, a left-leaning advocacy movement, Strategies 360 recently released a report that found 88 percent of likely voters oppose concealed carry without a permit.
While usually polarized between the two sides, voters who support concealed carry — 57 percent — and voters who believe it should be illegal — 40 percent — agree there ought to be a permit system before buying a handgun.
“People feel as though they can still support Second Amendment rights, the right to own a gun and even the right to concealed carry,” said Kevin Ingham, vice president of Strategies 360. “They just draw a very clear line between letting anybody carry a concealed weapon legally and making sure that the people who are carrying a concealed weapon have shown that they are responsible gun owners.”
There are currently four states — Alaska, Arizona, Wyoming and Vermont — that allow concealed carry without a permit.
In North Carolina, applying for a permit consists of filling out an application, paying a fee of $80, completing a handgun safety course, giving two full sets of fingerprints and providing disclosure of any record concerning mental health.
UNC senior Alexandria Clayton grew up around a father who carried a handgun and now carries one herself, but she too is a supporter of the permit requirement.
“I am a woman, and I live alone so I feel very vulnerable without some sort of weapon I can use for self-defense,” Clayton said.
Advocates for allowing gun possession agree that a permit is a sound method for limiting some of the dangers of owning guns.
“Guns have the potential to be dangerous, but society has conditioned people into thinking that guns are the reason for violence," Clayton said. “With proper training and education, I believe the public could see guns as an asset.”
John Lott, president of the Crime Prevention Research Center, said permit holders are "extremely law-abiding."
“Indeed, I haven’t seen any evidence that there is a more law-abiding segment of the population," he said in an email.
One concern with mandatory gun permits is that it disables some low-income populations from getting them — especially states with a high permit cost. For example, in Illinois, it costs $500 to obtain a permit.
"My research indicates that it is poor blacks, those who are most likely victims of violent crime, who benefit the most from the option to protect themselves,” Lott said.
Lott also said prohibiting citizens from obtaining a gun makes it easier for criminals to commit crimes because it leaves the innocent unarmed.
“The central question is — who is most likely to obey the law?” Lott said. “And bans tend to disarm law-abiding citizens relative to criminals.”
As for openly carrying a handgun, most states, including North Carolina, permit it.
“Legally, I can walk down Franklin Street with a gun visibly on my hip,” Clayton said.
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