- Update: Gun permits allow express entrance into the Texas Capitol building
- From coffee shops to National Parks, gun carrying citizens aren't necessarily welcomed by other residents
- Some states allow "open carry," while others allow "concealed carry"
- People for and against gun carrying laws have good reasons supporting their opinions
- Regardless, if you're carrying a gun, you need to follow the law of the state you're in
Carrying a concealed gun into the Texas State Capitol isn’t only permitted, it’s practically encouraged. Metal detectors were installed at entrances to the Capitol last May after a shooting. The general public must get scanned by security officials to gain entry to the building.
A separate procedure was created for people with concealed handgun licenses. Visitors showing gun permits are given express entry. They don’t have to get scanned or show their guns.
Now frequent Capitol visitors, like lobbyists and journalists, are running out to get gun permits so they don’t have to wait in line behind tourists trying to visit the Capitol. It’s not unusual for Texas lawmakers to pack a pistol in their boots and purses.
Last February, Texas Governor Rick Perry pulled out a pistol while jogging and shot a coyote that threatened his dog. He sometimes carries a pistol when he jogs because of snakes in the area.
The Second Amendment to the US Constitution gives us the "right to bear arms." There are laws, however, limiting that right in some respects. And, regardless of the right, gun-toting citizens aren't welcome everywhere
Early in 2010, gun rights were in the crosshairs in some unlikely places: Coffee houses and US National Parks.
In Starbucks locations from California to Virginia, customers walked in wearing guns. They were in plain sight, usually in a holster strapped across their hips. Sometimes all alone, but more often than not with several other customers carrying guns.
They organized these "demonstrations" to exercise their right to carry a firearm - the right given to them not only by the US Constitution, but also the state laws where the Starbucks are located. And Starbucks announced it wouldn't interfere with their customers' right to carry firearms inside its stores.
For nearly 100 years, no one was allowed to carry a loaded firearm in our National Parks. Guns could be transported in and through the parks, but they had to be disassembled, unloaded, and in the trunk of a car. That all changed when the Credit Card Accountability, Responsibility and Disclosure Act was passed.
As of February 22, 2010, anyone with the legal right to carry a weapon may do so in most National Parks and National Wildlife Refuges.
48 states have some type of law allowing private citizens carrying firearms - only Illinois and Wisconsin don't allow private citizens to carry firearms.
As a general rule, gun laws fall into two groups:
Open Carry laws let any citizen (but they usually have to be residents of that state) carry a loaded firearm so long as it's in plain view. It was this type of law involved in the Starbucks demonstrations
Conceal Carry laws let you carry a gun, but it doesn't have to be in plain sight, meaning you can hide it under your clothing, for instance. In most states, you have to apply and pay for a permit and take a gun-safety course before you may carry. For the most part, the new law regarding National Parks is seen as a victory by people with concealed carry permits
The laws are, for the most part, pretty stringent, public-safety-oriented, and loaded with exceptions. For instance, in many concealed carry states, you can't carry a gun into:
- Restaurants or bars where alcohol is sold for immediate consumption
- Government owned buildings, like libraries and post offices, or
- School grounds
There are similar restrictions and training and permit requirements in "open carry" states, too.