ASHLEY: We The People need constitutional carry

(AP Photo/Steve Helber)

Life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness — a right freely given to all, but are we really as free as we think we are? 

The concept of owning a gun is a societal norm; however, legally carrying a gun in the State of North Carolina requires one to openly display it. In order to conceal your firearm, an individual is required to pay for a class; invest their time to attend; pay the fee for their concealed carry permit at the sheriff’s office, and then maintain the permit. 

Land of the free is quickly transitioning to land of the fee. 

The pistol permit process is an embarrassing regulation that was enacted in 1919, as a direct result of Jim Crow policies. North Carolina remains the only southern state to still require the ever-so-arduous pistol purchase permit process. If we truly are home of the free, then why have we not taken charge of this initiative and pushed for the passing of constitutional carry and nixing the Jim Crow-era pistol permit system? Are we content with lagging behind other states and clinging onto our watered- down gun rights? 

Additionally, open carry is riddled with its own ill-effects. The uneducated general population may see someone openly carrying a gun and automatically assume the law is being broken. Intimidation is a huge issue that not only causes unnecessary concern but could lead to law enforcement being called, which directs their time away from actual emergencies. 

A vague report from an individual informing the police that there’s a man or woman with a gun has the potential for detrimental results. 

Openly carrying a gun does anything but deter criminals. It allows them to assess the situation and figure out how they are going to disarm the legal gun carrier, as well as the potential for this to escalate even further. Having your firearm removed from your hip is not an unlikely scenario. At some point your back will be turned to something or someone, especially in crowded public areas. Poorly designed holsters and weapon retention skills also play a huge role in the risk of being disarmed. 

The driving force behind this issue is whether one believes the right to bear arms should be regulated by the government or if it’s a God-given natural right outlined by our founding documents. As partisan politics continues to steadily rise and broker our freedoms, we need to continue the fight for our right to bear arms so that we’re prepared to defend ourselves against all enemies, foreign and domestic. 

Like the famous abolitionist Frederick Douglass once said, “A man’s rights rest in three boxes. The ballot box, the jury box, and the cartridge box.” 

It’s time for North Carolina to pass constitutional carry. 

David Ashley is a retired state law enforcement officer who lives in Asheboro.