Guns in Public
The National Rifle Association (NRA) frequently claims that civilians who carry loaded guns in public are the most law-abiding citizens in America. While this is undoubtedly true in some cases, it has become apparent that the screening process in most states does little or nothing to stop dangerous individuals from carrying guns in public spaces.
In 2009, for example, there were six confirmed mass shootings (defined as four or more deaths) by concealed handgun permit holders, including the Fort Hood shooting by Nidal Malik Hasan and the killing of three policemen by neo-Nazi Richard Poplawski in Pittsburgh.
Approximately 38 states have “Shall-Issue” laws that force law enforcement officials to approve carry permits for any applicant who passes a basic computerized background check through the FBI’s NICS database (which is missing millions of disqualifying records). Individuals with misdemeanor criminal convictions, DUI offenses, past domestic abuse restraining orders, and histories of voluntary commitment to psychiatric institutions can and do obtain permits legally. Training requirements-if there are any for permit holders-are no more rigorous than a single day-class in instruction.
The NRA has also successfully lobbied for “Constitutional Carry” laws in five additional states (AK, AR, AZ VT, WY). These states allow individuals to carry loaded guns in public with no permit, no screening and no training.
In truth, there is no constitutional “right” to carry a loaded, concealed firearm in public. The Supreme Court was clear on this issue in their decision in the case of District of Columbia v. Heller. “The Second Amendment right is not unlimited,” wrote Justice Antonin Scalia. “It is not a right to keep and carry any weapon whatsoever in any manner whatsoever and for whatever purpose: For example, concealed weapons prohibitions have been upheld under the Amendment or state analogues. The Court’s opinion should not be taken to cast doubt on longstanding…laws forbidding the carrying of firearms in sensitive places such as schools and government buildings.”
Despite the numerous problems cited above regarding the screening process for those carrying guns in public, the NRA is currently pushing to allow guns to be brought into public spaces across America—including K-12 schools, colleges, churches, parks, airports, metro transport, restaurants, and even bars.