News Columns & Blogs

Pro-con: Are 'open-carry' gun laws right for nation?

The phrase "open carry" refers to the act of law-abiding citizens carrying a properly holstered handgun in plain sight, wherever it is legal to do so, as they go about their daily lives. Those who choose open carry are just going about their business while armed, as are the 6 million-plus Americans who hold concealed-carry permits. The only difference — open carriers have taken their jackets off. In the majority of states, any law-abiding citizen who is not otherwise prohibited by law from possessing a firearm may openly carry a loaded handgun with no license or permit required. In the majority of these 29 states, this right is based upon state constitutional provisions. In an additional 14 states, citizens who hold a state-issued carry permit may carry openly or concealed as they see fit. So is open carry right for America? The answer is an unequivocal "yes." Already present in the vast majority of states, the increasing popularity of the open-carry movement is a visible symbol that the right to bear arms remains a vital, core right of American citizens. — John Pierce of, in U.S. News & World Report

There are only three states — Florida, Texas and Illinois — and the District of Columbia that outright prohibit the open carrying of handguns. In this session of Congress, laws were passed to allow guns on Amtrak trains and in our national parks. Where does it end? When will people realize that we are moving backward in reducing gun violence? When open carry has occurred in retail stores, other customers generally become alarmed and the police are called to the scene. This creates a volatile and potentially dangerous situation. People should be able to sit in a coffee shop or a local diner with their families without being confronted with the threatening presence of openly displayed handguns. We can respect the rights of gun owners while at the same time doing more to keep illegal guns off the streets and reducing gun violence in our nation, such as by closing the gun show loophole, enforcing the laws on the books, and preventing terrorists from being able to buy guns, instead of allowing guns in our cherished parks and on our trains. — Rep. Carolyn McCarthy, D-N.Y., in U.S. News & World Report