This feature appears in the June ‘17 issue of NRA America’s 1st Freedom, one of the official journals of the National Rifle Association. Sponsored by NRA-ILA.
State legislatures from coast to coast are working to crack concealed-carry regulations and restore freedom to their citizens.
While pro-Second Amendment legislation like National Reciprocity and the Hearing Protection Act weave their slow, methodical course through Congress—countered at every turn by gun control Democrats and their surrogates in the media—state legislatures around the country are working to repeal gun control and to expand the exercise of our Second Amendment-protected rights via pro-self-defense legislation.
It is important to note that state legislatures are not working to expand Second Amendment-protected rights, but to expand the exercise of the rights that are already there. These rights have been denied to the people via myriad gun control schemes.
Consider state-level efforts undertaken to secure “permitless” or “constitutional” carry in 2017.
In New Hampshire, a three-year push to liberate residents from the burdensome task of acquiring a permit to exercise firearm freedoms finally prevailed. According to the Union Leader, then-Gov. Maggie Hassan, a Democrat, vetoed legislation to repeal the permit requirement in 2015 and 2016. But legislators continued to push, and on Feb. 22, Republican Gov. Chris Sununu signed Senate Bill 12 (SB 12), thereby abolishing the state’s requirement that residents get a permit to carry a concealed handgun for self-defense.
SB 12 was sponsored by Senate Majority Leader Jeb Bradley, who pushed the measure as a way to roll back the irrational imposition of gun control on concealed carriers. After all, open carry without a permit was already legal in New Hampshire, and Bradley did not agree with criminalizing law-abiding citizens simply because their clothing—perhaps a jacket or a sweatshirt—happened to cover their gun.
Shortly after, on March 23, Republican North Dakota Gov. Doug Burgum signed HB 1169 to abolish the concealed-carry permit requirement in his state as well. Upon signing the bill, the West Fargo Pioneer quoted Burgum as saying, “North Dakota has a rich heritage of hunting and a culture of deep respect for firearm safety. As a hunter and gun owner myself, I strongly support gun rights for law-abiding citizens. House Bill 1169 allows citizens to exercise their Second Amendment right under the U.S. Constitution.”
On April 5, constitutional-carry legislation passed the South Carolina House by a vote of 64-46. The legislation was sponsored by Republican state Rep. Mike Pitts. The Post and Courier quoted Pitts as saying, “This bill is a very simple bill. It means, by definition of the Constitution, it gives you the ability to keep and bear arms without having to be permitted by the country.”
Further, a constitutional-carry measure was introduced in Minnesota on Jan. 18. KARE 11 reported that “Republican lawmakers introduced a bill that would allow all legal Minnesota gun owners to carry their weapon in public, no permit required.” The constitutional-carry statute was contained in House File 188 and a companion bill, Senate File 650. Although the bills did not succeed, the fact that they were introduced shows the growing momentum of constitutional carry.
Constitutional carry was also proposed in Alabama, Michigan, Texas and Wisconsin. It was proposed and passed in South Dakota, but was vetoed by Republican Gov. Dennis Daugaard.
Now, consider state-level efforts to enact campus carry, thereby removing restrictions that deny Second Amendment-protected rights on college and university campuses.
A key example is Kansas, where campus carry is slated to become the law of the land on July 1, despite House Democrats’ efforts to derail it. Campus carry was signed into law in 2013 with the caveat that colleges and universities would have four years to put security measures like armed guards and metal detectors in place if they wanted to designate certain buildings as gun-free. Without such security measures, law-abiding students are viewed as providing their own security via the arms they bear.
On April 2, The Kansas City Star reported that House Minority Leader Jim Ward pushed legislation focused on “out-of-state concealed-carry permits” with the goal of opening a debate that would have allowed amendments to be made to the campus-carry law. Ward’s legislation failed, and campus carry is still scheduled to take effect July 1.
Lawmakers in Georgia have passed campus carry for the second year in a row, and Republican Gov. Nathan Deal signed it into law. Last year, the Georgia House passed campus carry on Feb. 22, and the state’s Senate followed suit on March 11. Deal actually campaigned for campus carry as it moved from the House to the Senate, but then did an about-face and vetoed it after the Senate passed it.
Deal was heavily pressured to veto the legislation by university presidents and other academics. Other gun controllers pressured Deal as well, and a common theme in all the complaints was a lack of exemptions of on-campus daycare facilities. This year’s bill contains the exemption for daycares.
Also, consider the state-level push for “Stand Your Ground” laws. These laws shield law-abiding citizens who must exercise their right to self-defense in a
life-or-death situation. They do this by removing any requirement that law-abiding citizens attempt to retreat before using lethal force to defend their lives while under attack. In simple terms, law-abiding citizens can stand his or her ground and use whatever force necessary to protect their lives and the lives of their families.
On April 4, the Iowa Senate voted 33-17 to pass legislation containing a “Stand Your Ground” statute. The Des Moines Register reported that the bill’s “language on standing one’s ground says a law-abiding person does not have a duty to retreat before using deadly force with a gun.” In other words, it is “Stand Your Ground” 101. The bill already passed the House but must return for another vote because the Senate made changes to it.
Florida already has a “Stand Your Ground” law, but lawmakers are working to strengthen it by shifting the burden of proof from the citizen to the state. The legislation being pushed will force the state to disprove a “Stand Your Ground” defense instead of putting the onus on the armed citizen. The legislation is contained in SB 128, a bill the Florida House passed on April 5
While House Democrats criticized SB 128 and warned of increased violence if it becomes law, the Miami Herald quoted Republican state Rep. Gayle Harrell saying, “This is not about violence; this is not about guns. … This is about the rule of law and the protection our Constitution has guaranteed us.
There have also been—and continue to be—state-level efforts to speed up the process by which domestic victims with a restraining order against an ex-boyfriend or violent spouse acquire a concealed-carry permit. The fundamental thought behind such a push is the attempt to avoid the travesty that America witnessed on June 3, 2015, when an unarmed Carol Bowne was attacked and killed by her ex-boyfriend, against whom she had previously secured a restraining order.
Breitbart News reported that Bowne lived in Berlin Township, N.J., and applied for a permit to own a gun on April 21, 2015. Six weeks later, while she was still waiting for the state to grant her permission to own a gun for self-defense, her boyfriend cornered her in her own driveway and stabbed her to death.
In the spirit of saving women from such savagery, Virginia lawmakers passed legislation to allow domestic abuse victims to carry a gun immediately upon securing a protective order against a violent boyfriend or spouse. The legislation would have granted the abuse victim 45 days from the issuance of the order to carry a gun for self-defense while she completed the carry licensing process.
While passed by the Legislature, the measure—HB 1852—was vetoed by Democrat Gov. Terry McAuliffe. He issued a statement with the veto in which he wrongly claimed that allowing domestic abuse victims to bypass the concealed permit application process weakens the “commonwealth’s gun safety laws.”
Similar legislation is under consideration in Indiana, and stalking victim Dawn Hillyer is urging lawmakers to pass it. The Journal Gazette reports that Hillyer was stalked for six years, during which time she lived in “constant fear.” After securing a protective order against her stalker, Hillyer applied for a concealed-carry permit, only to wait more than two months before receiving it. In those two months she learned a different lesson—protective orders are not enough; women need handguns.
Hillyer is now actively lobbying lawmakers to pass HB 1071, the measure which would allow victims who secure protective orders to carry a gun while their concealed-carry permit application is being processed. This would mean no more 60-day waits for a means of self-defense. And it would also mean more women would have a legal way to defend their lives instead of losing them to a violent former boyfriend or husband who cares little about the limitations posed by a protective order.
In summary, the Second Amendment is alive and well in the states. Constitutional carry, campus carry, stand your ground, and special carry allowances for the most vulnerable among us are just a few examples of how states are working to protect and expand the exercise of those rights Americans possess by birth.
AWR Hawkins is the Second Amendment columnist for Breitbart News and host of Bullets with AWR Hawkins, a Breitbart News podcast. He is also the political analyst for Armed American Radio. Follow him on Twitter @AWRHawkins, or reach him directly via email at [email protected]