Skip to content

Taxing Our Rights Away- Government Fees Discourage Concealed Carry- part one

August 18, 2017

Part one of four-

Can governments change our behavior with taxes and regulations?  Politicians infringe on the right to keep and bear arms, and they do so in significant ways.  They impose regulations from coast to coast.  These government-imposed costs significantly change the behavior of ordinary citizens.  Most importantly, government regulations disarm the poorest among us.  They disarm the very people who are the most likely to be the victims of violent crime, and so, those who most need the tools of self-defense.  That isn’t opinion.  Those are facts that are available to any of us.

What do we see if we examine concealed carry across the US?  We have concealed carry information from every state in the union.  In this case, the laboratory of freedom is working as designed.  The states vary widely in the degree to which they infringe on our right to bear arms.  Some states effectively outlaw concealed carry.  Their concealed carry policy is called “may issue”, and only the politically connected get to exercise the right of self-defense.  Other states took a radically different approach.  They reasoned that their gun laws only regulate law abiding people while doing little to disarm criminals.  These states adopted unrestricted carry; anyone who may own a gun may carry a gun.

May-issue states and unrestricted-carry states are polar opposites, but they are alike in one respect.  Both make it difficult to know how strongly people want to be armed.

How can we find out if ordinary people want to bear arms?  The states with strict and burdensome gun laws prevent honest people from being armed.  Citizens in those states who want to be armed simply don’t bother to apply for a permit.  In contrast, some states have unrestricted carry laws.  Citizens in those states don’t need to apply for permits so the state doesn’t collect carry data.  Thirty states both allow concealed carry and collect some information on those who receive their permits.  I looked at the 30 states where concealed carry permits are issued.  (Excel file of data)  That covers approximately 66% of the US population.

Why don’t more people get their concealed carry permit?  We can examine the fees and training hours required for a first time applicant to obtain their license.  Some fees are mandated by the state.  Others may be imposed by each sheriff or local judge.   Like the cost of mandated training, these fees may vary from state to state and between different locations within a state.  I rejected the highest and the lowest prices I found as I tried to recorded the costs that the average applicant would face in each state.  I concentrated on the costs paid by a first time applicant since those costs have the strongest effect on the decision to get a permit.  Some states impose other costs as well, but we’ll discuss those as special cases

How much do the requirements vary from state to state?  Figure 1 shows the monetary cost of the application process.  It also shows the tax of time imposed by state mandated instruction and training.  The fees vary from a low of 20 dollars to a maximum of about 465 dollars, a range of over twenty-to-one.  The number of required training hours varies from zero up to sixteen hours.  That doesn’t include the time required to get fingerprints, get photographs, and to fill out application forms.  Those hours don’t include the time to travel to the required classes for lectures or to the shooting range for instruction.  States also vary in how long the permit remains in force between renewals.

What are the obvious trends? The states that imposed higher fees also imposed higher training hours.  Conversely, the states that imposed lower licensing costs also imposed fewer training hours, if any.  Illinois is the extreme case with the highest fees (about $465) and the greatest amount of mandated training (16 hours).

Is that a fee or is it really a tax?  It is amazing that a patrolman can stop your car on the street, and in a few seconds, determine if you’re a wanted criminal.  Some states charge 20 dollars to run a similar background check and then hand you a plastic card called a concealed carry permit.  Other states perform essentially the same process but charge many hundreds of dollars and take months to process the paperwork.  As we’ll see, each cost in time and money denies more and more of us the right to go armed for self-defense.


“It is only a tax.”

United States Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts  during oral arguments for Obamacare.

Do we treat other rights this way? Judges determined that it was unconstitutional to impose a fee in order to vote.  That was called a poll tax.  Judges also ruled that it was unconstitutional to require identification before you are allowed to vote.  Judges ignored the imposition of thousands of dollars in costs that some states heap on those who want to exercise their right to bear arms.  Some rights are clearly more equal than others.

We’ll look at how high fees discourage concealed carry in part two of this series.

Part one- state imposed costs to obtain a permit
Part two- the effect of monetary fees on the rate of concealed carry
Part three- the effect of mandated training on the rate of concealed carry
Part four- deregulating concealed carry and the true cost of infringement

Please leave a comment and share.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: