Should Guns Be Allowed?

Should adults have the right to carry a concealed handgun?

Did you know?

did You Know?


  1. Carrying a concealed handgun in public is permitted for non-law enforcement officials in all 50 states. Washington, DC does not allow concealed carry except by active and retired law enforcement officers.

  2. 35 states have "shall-issue" laws where police do not have discretion in issuing concealed weapon permits as long as individuals meet minimum requirements, such as a minimum age, no prior felony conviction, and no recent commitments to a mental institution (as of Mar. 30, 2010).
  3. The National Rifle Association (NRA) gave presidential candidate Barack Obama an "F" rating based on his voting record on guns. The Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence also gave President Obama an "F," in part because he signed the Credit Card Accountability Responsibility and Disclosure Act of 2009 which included an amendment to allow the carrying of firearms in national parks.

  4. Between May 2007 and Mar. 24, 2010, at least nine law enforcement officers and 142 private citizens were killed nationally by concealed handgun permit holders (approximately 0.003% of all murders in that time period).

  5. According to a 2000 report by engineering statistician William Sturdevant published on the Texas Concealed Handgun Association website, the general public is 5.7 times more likely to be arrested for violent offenses, and 13.5 times more likely to be arrested for non-violent offenses, than concealed carry weapon permit holders.



Carrying a concealed handgun in public is permitted for non-law enforcement officials in all 50 states. Washington, DC does not allow concealed carry except by active and retired law enforcement officers.

Proponents of concealed carry say that criminals are less likely to attack someone they believe to be armed. They cite the 2nd Amendment's "right of the people to keep and bear arms," and argue that most adults who legally carry a concealed gun are law-abiding and do not misuse their firearms.

Opponents of concealed carry argue that increased gun ownership leads to more gun crime and unintended gun injuries. They contend that concealed handguns increase the chances of arguments becoming lethal, and that society would be safer with fewer guns on the street not more.

State regulations on concealed carry fall into four categories. The first is "no-issue" which does not allow citizens to carry a concealed handgun. The second category is "may-issue" which grants concealed carry permits at the discretion of local authorities. The third category is "shall-issue" which requires police to issue concealed carry permits as long as the applicant meets certain minimum requirements such as a minimum age, no prior felony conviction, and no recent commitments to a mental institution. The fourth category is "unrestricted carry," where no permit is required to carry a concealed handgun.

In 1813, Kentucky and Louisiana passed the first laws prohibiting the concealed carrying of deadly weapons. By 1850, most Southern states had prohibited concealed carry in an attempt to reduce high murder rates. In the 1880s, non-Southern states began restricting the concealed carry of weapons. After WWI, the focus of gun control efforts switched from the state to the federal level. Congress imposed an excise tax on weapons in 1919 and prohibited the shipping of handguns through the US postal system in 1927. In 1934, the federal government began regulating possession of weapons with the National Firearms Act. "May issue" laws were dominant in the post-World War II period. In 1960, only Vermont and New Hampshire had "shall-issue" laws. Between 1960 and 1980, Washington (1961) and Connecticut (1969) also adopted "shall-issue" laws. "Shall-issue" laws began to spread in the 1980s and were adopted by Indiana (1980), Maine (1985), North Dakota (1985), and South Dakota (1986).

On May 12, 1987, Florida passed a "shall-issue” law that became a model for other states. "Shall-issue laws" require police to issue concealed carry permits as long as the applicant meets certain minimum requirements. Requirements vary by state, but typically include a minimum age, no prior felony conviction, and no recent drug convictions or commitments to a mental institution. Some states also require classes and training. In the early 1990s, the National Rifle Association launched a campaign to increase the number of states with "shall-issue" laws. By May 7, 2009, 29 states had adopted "shall-issue” laws. Of these states, 21 had previously prohibited carrying altogether.

11 states have "may issue” laws which give law enforcement discretion in issuing permits (as of Mar. 31, 2010). Of these states, Maryland, Hawaii, and New Jersey are considered "no issue" in practice, while Alabama, Connecticut, and Iowa are considered "shall-issue” in practice. In California, New York, and Massachusetts, issuing is up to local officials and rural areas tend to issue more liberally than urban areas. Alaska and Vermont do not require permits but individuals must meet minimum requirements to carry concealed handguns.


States and counties frequently restrict where concealed weapons can be carried to exclude schools, government buildings, and establishments where alcohol is served. Some states allow businesses to post signs prohibiting the carrying of concealed firearms within the establishment. Starbucks in Washington, for example, had not posted such signs (and still has not as of Mar. 25, 2010) and gun rights activists began to assemble there in Jan. 2010.

On July, 22, 2009, the US Senate rejected an amendment in a 58 to 39 vote (60 votes were needed) by Sen. John Thune (R-SD) that would allow an individual who holds a concealed weapons permit in one state to travel with a loaded concealed weapon to any of the other 47 states that also issue permits. As of Feb. 5, 2010, Utah is the only state that allows concealed carry permit holders to bring guns on all Utah college campuses. On Feb. 23, 2010, Colorado State University banned the concealed carry of weapons on campus, but Larimer County, CO, Sheriff James Alderdenand





said at the time that he "will not be a party to this very poor decision" and refuses to jail anyone who is arrested for carrying a concealed weapon. On Mar. 10, 2010, 10,000 gun owners marched on Illinois’ State Capital to demand the ability to carry a concealed handgun.

Following the election of President Barack Obama, Ohio issued 56,691 new concealed weapon permits in 2009, a 67% increase from the 33,864 licenses issued in 2008. According to Jim Irvine, chairman of the Buckeye Firearms Association, this increase in concealed weapon permits is a result of "President Obama being anti-gun and the fear that he was going to do something to affect gun ownership." The Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence gave President Obama an "F” rating for his first year in office for his efforts on gun control, in part because Obama signed the Credit Card Accountability Responsibility and Disclosure Act of 2009 on May 22, 2009 which included an amendment to allow the carrying of firearms in national parks. The National Rifle Association also gave presidential candidate Barack Obama an "F" rating on gun rights. Obama was quoted in an Apr. 2, 2008 article saying, "I am not in favor of concealed weapons. I think that creates a potential atmosphere where more innocent people could (get shot during) altercations."
On Sep. 28, 2010, Colton Joshua Tooley, 19, fired four shots into the air over 30 minutes at the University of Texas with an AK-47 before killing himself. That afternoon, John Lott, PhD, was scheduled to speak at a pro-concealed weapons event on the same campus where 14 students were killed in a 1966 shooting. The event was moved off campus to a nearby book store. Daniel Crocker of Students for Concealed Carry on Campus, one of the event's organizers, stated, "It’s fortunate that the gunman took only his own life and injured nobody else, but students and faculty deserve options beyond relying on the altruism – or poor aim of a madman." State Sen. Rodney Ellis (D-TX), JD, countered, "Allowing guns on campus will do little to improve the safety of students and could, in fact, make dangerous situations that much more deadly by creating confusion for law enforcement." The shooting is expected to play a role in the debate over a planned reintroduction of a campus-carry bill that failed in the Texas legislature in 2009.

On July 8, 2011, Wisconsin became the 49th state to allow concealed carry. Wisconsin citizens who go through training and obtain a permit are able to carry a concealed handgun in most public buildings and private businesses (including bars and churches) unless establishments post a sign forbidding it. On Dec. 11, 2012, the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals in Moore v. Madiganstruck down an Illinois state law passed in 1962 that broadly prohibited carrying a gun in public. The Illinois General Assembly faced a court-imposed deadline of July 9, 2013 to pass legislation giving residents the right to carry concealed weapons in public. On July 9, 2013, Illinois legislators overrode the governor's veto and passed a bill allowing concealed handguns. The law permits residents who have passed a background check and completed 16 hours of gun safety training to purchase a concealed-carry license for $150 ($300 for non-residents). The license is valid for five years, and names of license holders will be withheld from public view. License holders must be 21 years old, guns may be loaded or unloaded, and guns will not be allowed on public or private school premises. The bill also bans concealed guns in businesses where alcohol is a majority of the sales, and it bans licenses for those "addicted to narcotics."