Who should regulate guns – the federal government or the states?
By John Vettese, Student Voices staff writer
Last week, California Gov. Jerry Brown signed two pieces of legislation that gun rights advocates see as a blow to their Second Amendment freedoms.
One law outlaws “open carry” of firearms. That means carrying a gun in a way that other people can see it. According to Los Angeles County Sheriff Lee Baca, “Any type of weapon being carried, openly or concealed, could appear as … a public safety threat.” Law enforcement officers and members of the military are exempt from the law, and it does not apply at gun shows or on designated hunting lands. Those who break the law are subject to a year in prison and a $1,000 fine.
The second law requires the state to keep records of rifle sales – effectively treating rifles and handguns in the same fashion.
Gov. Brown signed this legislation at a point when national trends favor looser gun laws. Forty-two states allow open carry, and a law being debated in Congress could make stricter state gun laws obsolete.
Introduced by Florida Rep. Cliff Stearns, the National Right-to-Carry Act (H.R. 822) would require all states to honor weapons permits issued by any other state. In other words, if a gun owner had a permit to carry in Utah, which has relatively relaxed gun laws, and traveled to California, which has strict gun laws, California would not be able to punish the gun owner for any violations of its laws.
Proponents see this as a solution to the clash between the Second Amendment, which the courts have generally said gives individuals the right to use and buy guns, and the 10th Amendment, which allows states to pass laws regulating any matter the federal government has not ruled on – including firearms.
But some states issue out-of-state gun permits, including Utah, where gun permits are issued to anyone who is not a felon, attends a class and pays a registration fee. Last year, gun permit sales generated $2.5 million in revenue for the state’s coffers. And critics think this is a blow to states that want to exercise stricter regional control over guns.
“There are no standards in the bill,” California Assemblyman Mike Feuer told the Sacramento Bee. “Whatever state that has the least restrictions would be the law of the entire country.”
What do you think?
Who should regulate guns – the federal government or the states? Do you agree with California’s laws banning open carry of guns and keeping records of rifles? What do you think of the National Right-to-Carry Act? Should states honor gun laws no matter where they are passed? Join the discussion!
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