The restoration of Second Amendment-protected rights in the states is happening so quickly that it’s hard to keep up. On Friday, the Georgia legislature sent a bill to Governor Nathan Deal that would allow concealed handguns on public college campuses, with some exceptions built in to appease Deal, who vetoed a similar but stronger measure last year. Jerry Henry, executive director of GeorgiaCarry.org, a pro-gun rights group, was realistic: “It’s not the bill that we wanted but it’s the bill we got. It gives [us] a foot in the door.” If Deal signs the bill, Georgia would become the 11th state with this kind of campus-carry law.
Georgia legislators also sent to Deal’s desk a bill that improved a number of the state’s existing gun laws, including giving individuals moving to the state from “reciprocal” carry agreement states a 90-day “grace” period to obtain a Georgia Weapons License (GWL) while continuing to carry legally using their previous state’s license. That bill also explicitly prohibits any probate judge from “suspending, extending, delaying, or avoiding” the process of approving a GWL application made by a citizen of the state.
In addition, it would protect firearms instructors from civil liability for any injuries caused by the failure of one of their students to use a firearm safely.
A third bill sent to Georgia Governor Beal would allow Virginia concealed handgun permit holders to enjoy “permit reciprocity” with Georgia.
The next day, multiple pro-gun and pro-hunting bills moved ahead in Virginia, including a measure that would allow any law-abiding person to carry a firearm in any state, county, or municipal park or other recreation area. Another bill would allow law-abiding Virginians to carry a firearm onto school property while dropping off or picking up students. Still another would protect shooting ranges from frivolous lawsuits and noise complaints as long as they are operating lawfully. This bill is a direct pushback against anti-gun groups that have filed such lawsuits and complaints in attempts to shut those ranges down.
Last week, North Dakota became the 14th state to allow constitutional carry, just weeks after New Hampshire passed similar legislation. Other constitutional-carry bills are pending in Alabama, Louisiana, Nebraska, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, and Wisconsin.
A Michael Bloomberg-funded move in New Mexico to set up a gun registration system was rejected last week, following voter rejection of such a proposal in Maine last November.
On the national level, gun owners are celebrating House Speaker Paul Ryan’s withdrawal of his anti-gun “ObamaCare Lite” bill because of its hidden potential to invade Second Amendment-protected rights. Gun Owners of America (GOA) refused to back the bill unless it contained language that prohibited insurance companies from discriminating against gun owners, doctors from entering patients’ gun ownership information in any federal database, and federal agencies from “trolling” Medicaid and other federal health databases in order to add names to the NICS background-check database. GOA’s demands were ignored, and so the group rallied its members against the passage of Ryan’s bill.
Also on the national level, Second Amendment supporters are still celebrating the move by Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke on his first day in office, which revoked a last-second move by former President Obama to phase out the use of lead ammunition for bird hunting on federal land. Under normal circumstances, such a directive wouldn’t have rated a footnote, but in the present environment it showed that President Trump was not only determined to respect the Second Amendment but to put people in place in his cabinet with a similar determination.
And, just days later, President Trump himself repealed the so-called Social Security gun ban, under which certain Social Security beneficiaries would have had their Second Amendment-protected rights arbitrarily revoked without due process.
Another hopeful sign at the federal level is Trump’s nomination of Judge Neil Gorsuch to the Supreme Court. After reviewing the available background of Gorsuch, 30-year defense attorney Andrew Branca, writing in National Review, stated:
As a strong Second Amendment advocate and someone who has concealed-carried a firearm for pretty much every day of my adult life … I, for one, welcome Judge Gorsuch’s nomination to the Supreme Court, with great optimism for the Court’s future Second Amendment jurisprudence.
Restoring Second Amendment-protected rights after decades of efforts to abrogate them is an “inch-by-inch” process, and that process is being helped along greatly by a president who is determined to keep his promises in this area. On the importance of the Second Amendment, Trump wrote:
The Second Amendment guarantees a fundamental right that belongs to all law-abiding Americans. The Constitution doesn’t create that right — it ensures that the government can’t take it away. Our Founding Fathers knew, and our Supreme Court has upheld, that the Second Amendment’s purpose is to guarantee our right to defend ourselves and our families…. Law-abiding people should be allowed to own the firearm of their choice. The government has no business dictating what types of firearms good, honest people are allowed to own.
These victories, taken one at a time, don’t appear to amount to much. Taken together, however, they indicate not only the momentum shift in favor of the Second Amendment, but a better understanding of it. The language does confuse some: “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 following statement concerning the importance of books in a well-educated culture, offered by Stephen Halbrook, a senior fellow at The Independent Institute, is instructive in clarifying the Founders’ meaning: “A well-educated citizenry, being necessary to the culture of a free state, the right of the people to keep and read books shall not be infringed.”