Ana Simvoska of TV-6 – Fox UP – in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan has a story posted yesterday concerning concealed carry in the state of Michigan. The station’s Facebook followers wanted to know more about Michigan’s concealed pistol license and what was required to obtain one.
She titled her story, “Concealed carry a privilege, not a right”, because of the information she was given by officials with the Michigan State Police.
Those hoops are a loaded application, fingerprints and a background check. Any felonies, or misdemeanors can disqualify you. That’s because carrying is a privilege not a right, officials said.
“They’re trying to ensure that when they give you the ability to carry concealed that you’re doing so safely, that you don’t have a history of violence, you don’t have a history of mental instability, and certainly that you’ve been a good citizen,” Lt. Robert Pernanski said.
In a few states such as Vermont and Arizona which have constitutional carry, carry is treated as a right and not a privilege. However, in the majority of states it is treated like in Michigan as a privilege.
That said, given the Heller decision which found that the right to keep and bear arms meant both “to possess” and “to carry weapons in case of confrontation” and subsequent decisions such as Woollard and Bateman which confirmed this right exists outside the home, I think states are treading a fine line between privilege and right.
Alan Gura has pointed this out forcefully in many briefs when he writes that the dictum from Heller that states the Second Amendment “is not a right to keep and carry any weapon whatsoever in any manner whatsoever and for whatever purpose” cannot be used to eliminate all carry outside the home. As he wrote in Bateman, “the Court confirmed that there is a right to carry at least some weapons, in some manner, for some purpose.” Gura notes that Justice Stevens in his Heller dissent acknowledged that the Court’s opinion “protected the public carrying of arms”.
While we aren’t there yet, I do think there will come a time when carry (in some form) will be recognized as a right and not a privilege.