Guns in Public
What is the problem?
Carrying a gun in public is a tremendous responsibility. Common-sense public safety laws help keep guns out of places where they don’t belong. They also ensure that people who carry concealed guns in public have undergone a background check and gun owner safety training.
Many states lack common-sense public safety laws that ensure core public safety standards are met prior to carrying guns in public. Many also fail to prohibit guns in sensitive areas where guns don’t belong. Public safety laws should be implemented to prevent violent criminals and people who pose a threat to public safety from carrying guns and ensure that those carrying guns in our communities are trained in basic safety techniques. In addition, effective laws discourage violent conflict and encourage people to deescalate confrontations rather than using deadly force.
Why is it an issue?
In recent years, the gun lobby has worked to allow anyone to carry guns anywhere in public, anytime, with no questions asked.
The majority of gun owners support requiring a permit to carry a concealed gun in public and believe permit systems contribute to a culture of responsible gun ownership. Unfortunately, the gun lobby has taken an extreme position that favors making it easier for people with dangerous histories to carry guns in public, and even eliminating the concealed carry permit requirement altogether. Its extremist position also favors allowing guns in places where the risk of gun violence is elevated, like bars and courthouses. At the same time, they have urged states to pass Stand Your Ground laws, which lead to armed vigilantism, are associated with increased homicides, and have a disproportionate impact on communities of color. These policies, which are opposed by the majority of gun owners, law enforcement, and public safety officials, undermine public safety.
By the numbers
88 percent of Americans think you should get a permit before carrying a concealed gun in public.
Shoot first laws are associated with increases in homicide rates resulting in 700 additional homicides each year.
Over 80 percent of gun owners, non-gun owners, Republicans, Democrats, and Independents agree that high safety standards are critical in issuing concealed carry permits.
What are the solutions?
Require Permits to Carry Concealed Guns in Public
It is legal to carry a concealed handgun in public in all 50 states. States have traditionally required a person to have a permit to carry a loaded, concealed handgun in public. States should not allow the carry of concealed guns in public without one.
Strong Standards for Carrying Concealed Guns in Public
Carrying guns in public is a tremendous responsibility. States should set strong minimum standards for carrying concealed guns in public to ensure that people who are too dangerous or irresponsible to carry guns in our communities are blocked from doing so.
Block Concealed Carry Reciprocity
Federal concealed carry reciprocity (CCR) legislation would gut state standards for who may carry hidden, loaded handguns in public. CCR would force each state to recognize the concealed carry standards from every other state, even those that have dramatically weaker standards—and those that don’t require any permit at all.
Repeal Shoot First Laws
Shoot First, also known as Stand Your Ground, laws allow people to shoot to kill in public even when they can safely walk away from the danger. These laws threaten public safety by encouraging armed vigilantism. They allow a person to kill another person in a public area even when there are clear and safe ways to retreat from a dangerous situation.
Prohibit Guns in Sensitive Areas
All fifty states and the District of Columbia allow civilians to carry concealed guns in public places. Laws differ in each state, but certain sensitive areas are always unsafe for guns.
Prohibit Open Carry
Carrying firearms visibly in public, known as open carry, is a dangerous policy. It is exploited by white supremacists and opposed by law enforcement and the public. Members of hate groups regularly openly carry guns in a show of intimidation.
Keep Guns Off Campus
Guns have no place on college campuses. Campuses have unique risk factors, such as high rates of mental illness and an increased use of alcohol and drugs, that make the presence of guns potentially deadly.