The Law Center’s tracking of firearm-related legislation in all 50 states has revealed a dangerous trend: a significant number of new bills to expand the ability of people to carry loaded firearms in public places. A Wyoming bill, for example, that would allow individuals to carry a concealed weapon without a permit, is already awaiting the Governor’s signature. Bills allowing concealed carry without a permit have been introduced in 13 other states this year. Several bills weakening the regulation of guns in public were enacted last year.

Other dangerous bills that appear to be gaining momentum in 2011 include those to:

Allow guns in government buildings, houses of worship, and even in some areas of elementary and secondary schools;
Require university and college administrators to allow guns on campus;
Allow guns in bars and restaurants where alcohol is served;
Require businesses and employers to allow guns in vehicles in designated parking areas.

The Law Center Responds With New Model Law

In response to this alarming trend, and in an effort to support activists and legislators nationwide, the Law Center has drafted a model law and report entitled “Regulating the Carrying and Possession of Firearms in Public Places.” The model, which is based on existing state laws, provides two alternative approaches. The first prohibits the open carrying of firearms and only allows concealed carry in public in accordance with a permit issued after an individual has shown good cause, passed a background check and received extensive training. The model does not allow carrying in government buildings, schools, establishments that sell alcohol or other sensitive places. The second approach prohibits the carrying of firearms in public, hidden or exposed, with exceptions for law enforcement officers, members of the military and other appropriate individuals.

Polling reveals that Americans feel less safe when people carry hidden guns in public, and overwhelmingly oppose laws that ease concealed permit requirements and allow firearms in places like college campuses, government buildings, restaurants and bars. The public should be aware that state legislators are bowing to gun lobby demands for more guns in public places and should hold irresponsible legislators accountable. The Law Center will continue to monitor and shed light on this dangerous trend and to do whatever we can to counteract it.