Age Requirement for Concealed Carry
There is no federal mandate on the minimum age a person needs to be to acquire a concealed carry permit. Each state has created their own age restrictions. While most states have a requirement to be 21 or older to obtain a concealed carry permit, states like New Hampshire have no clear age requirement on the books. Some states permit an 18 year old to obtain a concealed carry permit if he's in the military. Other states, like Indiana, set the age at 18 on the nose.
So, should we lower the age of concealed carry to 18 across the board?
I'd argue no.
And it has nothing to do with the idea that an eighteen year old can hold that sort of responsibility. It has everything to do with the mechanisms required to make that rule happen. In order for the age of concealed carry to drop to 18 across the country, it would require one of two processes:
• Federal law
• All 50 states passing legislation
Federal Boondoggle Or State-By-State Fight?
Federal law is a boondoggle. Let's take a bill titled “Kittens Are Awesome Act”. It may start with just a simple line, “We affirm that kittens are indeed awesome.” By the time it makes it through both the House and Senate, it will probably include mandatory kitten registration with microchips, a tax fine for not accepting at least one kitten into your household, and probably even a kitten-termination clause after the kitten becomes a mature cat. That's not even counting all the pork that will get attached to its tail end (no pun intended) before it skirts through both chambers.
By the time it's over, kittens are no longer awesome. They're a burden. And now people are angry that kittens exist at all.
Maybe that wouldn't happen if we passed federally mandated concealed carry laws. I would go ahead and bet that before the end of that legislation, there would be all sorts of provisions in that law nobody wants and because it's federal law, we all have to accept it.
The second option is all 50 states passing legislation dropping the age of permitting to 18. There's probably a number of states that may be persuaded to agree with such measures. It will likely be hotly contested, with political organizations claiming all sorts of ludicrous things about young adults. “I don't want my son having to worry about a concealed carrier walking down the street.” That's the sort of nonsense you'll hear on the news. Stuff that doesn't even make sense. How could I possibly guess that? Just look at the recent legislative changes to the concealed carry laws in Texas. There were highly educated, state-funded academia and administrators saying all sorts of crazy nonsense at the idea of students and faculty being allowed to carry on campus.
The Best Way Forward For Dropping The Concealed Carry Age
The best way to drop the age of concealed carry down to 18 – or eliminate it altogether – would be to propose specific changes to your state's bills. More powerful than a letter to your state representative or senator would be to find the part of your state's law that specifies an age and ask for that specific piece to be eliminated or amended as you see fit.
Not only are you giving a concrete solution to the problem, you're making the drafting process easier for the legislator. After all, it's all about getting the right people into the concealed carry club.
James England (@sir_jim_england) is the contributing editor for Alien Gear Holsters. He is a veteran of Operation Iraqi Freedom and private defense contracting in Afghanistan.