Arizona has now joined two other states, Alaska and Vermont, that allow its people to carry a concealed weapon without requiring a permit, a right gun freedom advocates have argued for years is guaranteed to them.
In mid-April of this year, Arizona Governor Jan Brewer (R) signed into law a bill that made this action possible. Brewer stated, "I believe this legislation not only protects the Second Amendment rights of Arizona citizens, but restores those rights as well."
The bill carries mixed feelings, bringing both supporters and critics. Supporters say that it promotes constitutional rights and allows people to protect themselves. Critics voiced that it will lead to unnecessary shootings.
Some police officials believe the bill will lead to more accidental gun discharges and accidental shootings, due to carriers also not being required to undertake proper training.
Others, including police unions representing rank-and-file officers supported the bill based on their belief that their allies out in the public are law-abiding citizens and are equipped with the knowledge to protect themselves, and if needed, their fellow citizen.
From a different standpoint; with support for the bill, but not foregoing training, the Arizona Citizens Defense League is a gun-rights group who have supported passage of constitutional carry laws, but believe that training should be received even if opting for the carry without permit right. A statement released by the group read, "The heaviest thing about wearing a firearm is the responsibility that comes with it."
Tennessee is one of 45 states that allow concealed carry with the issuance of a permit. Currently, Tennessee is a shall-issue jurisdiction state, which differs slightly from a may-issue jurisdiction that some other states follow. Shall issue refers to the granting of such a permit is subject only to meeting certain criteria laid out in the law, yet the granting authority has no discretion in the awarding of permits. If all criteria are met, then the granting authority "shall" issue the permit. May-issue refers to the permit being granted partially at the discretion of local authorities. Various criteria must then be met and the granting authority "may" issue the permit to an individual.
The People News contacted Tennessee State Representative (Bradley County) Eric Watson, to inquire if any such bill has been in the works for Tennessee to forgo the permit process for concealed carry. Watson stated in his responding e-mail, "As far as I'm aware, there has been no move in recent years to disband the permit process and in fact, there have been moves (some successful, others not) to make it more restrictive."
Written in 1796 and amended in 1870 to it's final form, the Tennessee Constitution states "that the citizens of this State have a right to keep and to bear arms for their common defense; but the Legislature shall have power, by law, to regulate the wearing of arms with a view to prevent crime."
Those fighting to uphold citizen's rights argue that several statutes enacted by the Tennessee Legislature since the 1970s regarding firearms and weapons, exceed the written 1870 constitutional restriction upon the Legislature's regulatory power.
Moving to stricter laws at the opposite end of gun rights, Illinois and Wisconsin prohibit concealed carry altogether. Wisconsin Statute plainly states that any person, except a peace officer who goes armed with a concealed weapon is guilty of a misdemeanor. All attempts to legalize concealed carry, even with a permit, have been vetoed by Wisconsin Governor Jim Doyle.
A story printed in March of this year in regard to Illinois, stated that the Supreme Court was working on a major case involving Chicago and the city's complete ban on handguns. The question is whether this violates the Second Amendment. In light of those events, Rasmussen Reports conducted a national telephone survey, in which 69% of respondents say that city governments do not have the right to prevent citizens from owning handguns.
However, 25% of respondents believed that city governments do have the right.
Though not a state, the District of Columbia also prohibits concealed carry.
A new law was recently signed by President Barak Obama allowing guns in national parks, but Second Amendment advocates say it's still not enough. On April 19, 2010 a multitude of gun-rights activists rallied to protest in a Virginia park, getting as close to the nation's capital as possible, while armed with their personal firearms.
Others from the group gathered at the National Mall, but were unarmed due to the District of Columbia's strict gun laws. Their statement came in the form of stickers that read "Guns Save Lives."
The protest, known as "Restore the Constitution" was held near the capitol to highlight what organizers believe to be unconstitutional gun laws.
Second Amendment advocates interpret "A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed" to mean the undenied right to bear arms. But, it seems the U.S. government may not see it that clearly. According to the American Bar Association "there is more disagreement and less understanding about this right than any other current issue regarding the Constitution."
Over the years, gun laws have become more strict across the nation, and most recently, the suggestion of changing the Constitution to remove the right to bear arms altogether. It remains to be seen if other states will follow in the example of Alaska, Vermont and Arizona to "Restore the Constitution."