“Constitutional Carry” is a gun-shaped book designed to fit into my father’s vintage police holster and be kept in a metal, locked gun safe. It is 7.25″ x 5″ with 20 pages incorporating the following text:

The term constitutional carry, refers to the United States Constitution’s Second Amendment which gives citizens the right to bear arms, typically a handgun, openly or concealed, without a permit or license. All 50 states allow individuals to carry concealed weapons — 20 without a permit. Thirty-one states allow a handgun to be carried openly without a permit and an additional 15 allow open carry with a permit. Without a permit and background check, it is possible for convicted criminals, individuals with mental health issues, dishonorably discharged military personnel and non-US citizens to legally carry guns in public.

The US is the only nation with more guns than people. In 2020, 17 million handguns were sold — 64% more than in the previous year, and about 1/5 to first-time buyers. One third of households in the US own guns and estimates suggest that 3-million adults carry loaded handguns every day.

The US has a total rate of firearms death which is 50 to 100 times greater than that of many similarly wealthy nations with strict gun control laws, such as the United Kingdom. Although self-defense is often cited as the reason individuals need guns, a successful defense occurs in less than one percent of crimes. And while mass shootings have been covered extensively in the media, they account for a small fraction of gun-related deaths. More than one-third of the 100 Americans gun deaths each day are homicides and the remaining two-thirds are suicides. Gun violence in the US results in tens of thousands of deaths and injuries and costs taxpayers more than half a billion dollars in direct hospital costs annually.

While there are efforts to control the proliferation of guns and the ensuing violence, more states are loosening restrictions to owning and carrying handguns. These competing issues are among the most widely debated and contentious in the US today and perhaps with the most potential for disaster.