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Gun-Rights Advocates Are Winning Policy Battles In The States

Most adults and of-age teens go through the same process of getting licensed to drive: classroom or online instruction, up to 100 hours of practice behind the wheel, and a skills test. Far fewer people have that experience when seeking a license to carry concealed weapons. Last week, Ohio became the 23rd state to eliminate permits as a requirement for concealed carry. The Buckeye State followed Alabama, where Gov. Kay Ivey signed a similar law on March 10. The back-to-back wins for gun-rights advocates who want fewer restrictions on the Second Amendment signal how partisan divides and relentless activism at the state level are reshaping the landscape around gun possession, the Washington Post reports. “This is the latest front in the battle over gun rights in America,” said Adam Winkler, a law professor at the University of California at Los Angeles and an expert in gun policy and the Second Amendment.

Winkler sees a broader takeaway in the changes to Alabama and Ohio’s gun laws. "The lesson is: It’s coming to you,” Winkler said. “It’s a rising tide of reform, and it’s a wave we’ve seen before.” Seventeen of the 23 states that allow permitless carry passed the laws in the past seven years. Concealed carry wasn’t even legal in every state until 2013, when Illinois lifted its longtime ban decades after most other states. The push to end restrictions on concealed carry is similar to one by lobbyists and gun rights activists 30 years ago with “shall issue” permitting. States adopted laws that held authorizing agencies shall issue concealed-carry permits to anyone who meets the basic requirements, such as completing a training course or passing a background check — a shift that rapidly expanded who could carry a concealed weapon. Before “shall issue” permitting, most states would let individuals concealed carry only if licensed; the permits, Winkler said, were hard to get and required applicants to demonstrate a justification for carrying a concealed firearm. The National Rifle Association "has been incredibly effective in loosening gun laws at the state level and have completely transformed how individuals can carry guns in public since the 1980s,” Winkler said, adding, "The states are a hotbed of activity of gun reform these days, and it’s mostly gun-rights advocates that are winning the battles.”


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