By Tosten Burks, GOOD.is
AFTER YEARS of mass shootings failed to produce meaningful federal gun control legislation under President Obama, we now have a president whose electoral victory was hailed by the National Rifle Association as an “extraordinary, historic, even heroic accomplishment.” Donald Trump is a self-proclaimed “big Second Amendment person” who opposes limits on gun sales and believes gun ownership makes the world a safer place. Whether you’re vehemently against guns or cautiously considering buying one, it’s worth learning a few basic firearm facts.
Know These 4 Important Laws
The practice of carrying a weapon out of public view, which includes hiding it under a jacket, tucked into a waistband, or stowed in a bag, is legal in all 50 states, but most require a special permit. In the past decade, 10 states have passed laws reversing this requirement. Eight states currently allow students to carry concealed guns on college campuses.
Open carry is the act of publicly wearing a firearm in plain sight. You can freely carry rifles and shotguns in 44 states, and openly tote handguns in 45 states.
Castle laws, also known as “defense of habitation” laws, recognize the right to use deadly force in a situation of self-defense that occurs inside one’s own car or residence. The doctrine draws its name from English common law, which states, “For a man’s house is his castle.” The laws exist in 46 states.
STAND YOUR GROUND
Also known as the “shoot first” law, Stand Your Ground enables the right to use deadly force in self-defense. This was George Zimmerman’s successful argument for fatally shooting Trayvon Martin. These laws exist in 23 states.
The Second Amendment in 60 Seconds
The Constitution’s most controversial amendment reads: “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.” The NRA has spent much of the past 40 years broadening the interpretation to expand the gun market.
The original intent, however, is best explained by Aaron Sorkin's West Wing character Toby Ziegler, who put it in more liberal terms: “The words ‘regulated’ and ‘militia’ are in the first sentence. I don’t think the framers were thinking of three guys in a Dodge Durango.”
Resources for the Atypical Gun Owner
THE WELL ARMED WOMAN is a nonprofit dedicated to educating, equipping, and empowering women shooters. Local chapters plan monthly practice sessions.
THE NATIONAL AFRICAN AMERICAN GUN ASSOCIATION educates blacks, who were historically denied Second Amendment protections, about firearm use, policy, and sport.
PINK PISTOLS is a national advocacy group that promotes the use of firearms for the self-defense of LGBTQ people by organizing training sessions and social events. It also connects novices with veteran shooters to learn skills and safety through the online database Operation Blazing Sword.
The 6 Most Popular (Legal) Guns in the United States
Illustration by Ariel Roman