How US states differ on carrying guns in public

How many states have each type of licensing law?

New York was one of at least six states – along with California, Massachusetts, New Jersey, Maryland and Hawaii – with laws that prevented most people from legally carrying a handgun. About a third of states have some sort of “must publish” law, giving state officials some discretion to approve or deny requests; those “must issue” plans are unaffected by the ruling striking down the New York law, Judge Brett Kavanaugh wrote in a concurring opinion. About 25 states — half of the United States, in other words — allow concealed carry without a permit. Those states include Texas, where 21 people died in an elementary school shooting in May.

Are there no limits to carrying a gun in public?

There are. Many states — even some with the most permissive concealed carry laws — require permits to carry firearms in certain places, such as schools. The Supreme Court has reaffirmed that states have the power to ban firearms in “sensitive places,” such as schools, government buildings, courthouses and polling stations, as long as the term does not is not too broadly defined.

What about licensing laws?

Gun rights activists and the conservative political leaders who generally support them argue that the permit requirement violates their constitutional rights. They say applying for a permit can be a cumbersome hurdle in taking steps to defend yourself. The National Rifle Association, whose affiliate challenged New York’s concealed carry permit laws in the Supreme Court, has been pushing to weaken permit laws since the mid-1980s.

What is the case for them?

Gun safety advocates argue that Americans are at greater risk when guns are allowed in public spaces and the threshold is low for who can carry them. Law enforcement organizations also generally opposed the removal of permits, saying such laws put officers’ lives at risk. Police organizations in Texas, for example, rallied outside the Texas Capitol to oppose unlicensed portering before it became law there.


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