There’s gun rights policy grid-lock in the nation’s capital, where the Administration keeps proposing restrictions on gun rights through executive action, and Congress members primarily introduce pro-gun bills.
But the several states are another matter. Five states this year have sharply eased gun carry regulations, improving gun rights for over 38 million residents, and many more potential visitors.
This year a number of states have passed legislation providing for broad liberalization of gun carry rules, aiming specifically at eliminating or reducing the need for permits to exercise what the Supreme Court described in 2008 as the constitutional “right to keep and carry weapons in case of confrontation.” Starting from the West Coast, there are five states in the spotlight:
The Idaho legislature eliminated the requirement to have a concealed handgun permit (CHP) to carry concealed outside of city limits.
The Sunshine State, Kansas, surprised many by completely repealing the need to have a CHP to carry concealed handguns in that state.
Texas, the largest state in the lower 48 states, and the second most populous state, passed two sweeping bills expanding gun rights. One bill legalized the open carry of properly holstered handguns by CHP holders. The other bill greatly expanded the CHP holders’ right to carry concealed handguns on college campuses into most college buildings, facilities, and classrooms.
West Virginia repealed its vague statutory ban on open carry in vehicles and forested areas. As a result, the open carry of properly holstered handguns is legal now through-out the Wild & Wonderful state.
And finally Maine followed Kansas and also passed “Constitutional carry” legislation in that state. This form of gun carry law has caught the eye of gun rights leaders.
“There are now eight constitutional carry states that allow citizens to carry concealed firearms without a permit: Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, Kansas, Maine, Montana, Vermont, and Wyoming,” Larry Pratt, executive director of Gun Owners of America, recently told The New American. And he notes, there are efforts underway in more than a dozen states to enact similar legislation. This movement is one of the very positive and encouraging developments regarding the Second Amendment and the right of individuals to self-defense.
Meanwhile other states are pursuing narrower “clean up” legislation aimed at repealing smaller but still objectionable vestiges of gun control. For example, Nevada strengthened its firearms preemption statute to, inter alia, void Clark County gun registration requirements which hobbled tourists’ gun carry rights in the greater Las Vegas area for many years. And Wisconsin repealed that state’s “waiting period” to buy handguns.
John Pierce of OpenCarry.org is optimistic that gun rights will continue to expand in most states. “What you are seeing is just the beginning,” says Pierce, “and a lot more freedom is on the way.”