4 states, among last holdouts, eye open-carry gun laws
Yahoo! Buzz Digg Newsvine Reddit FacebookWhat's this?By Donna Leinwand, USA TODAY
The four other states that ban so-called open carry "are extremely gun-friendly. They understand the individual-rights aspect. Yet for whatever reason, the carry laws in these states are restrictive," says John Pierce, a co-founder of OpenCarry.org, which promotes gun rights.
Most states have strict laws governing concealed weapons. Illinois and Wisconsin ban carrying them entirely, according to the National Rifle Association. Concealing a weapon "was seen in the early days of our nation as something of an unwholesome act. People would bear arms openly," Pierce says.
Says Paul Helmke, president of the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence, which opposes open-carry laws: "We don't want more people carrying guns either openly or concealed because the more guns you have in a situation, the more likely you are to get gun violence."
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Legislation is getting varying degrees of traction:
• In South Carolina, Republican Rep. Dan Cooper sponsored a bill endorsed by 36 other legislators to allow anyone who legally owns a handgun to carry it openly.
• In Oklahoma, Republican Rep. Mike Ritze is the sole sponsor of a bill filed Feb. 2 that would allow open carry.
• In Arkansas, a legislator is moving forward with a similar bill, Stollenwerk says.
• In Texas, Ian McCarthy, a student who chairs the Texas Open Carry Work Group, started the online petition in late 2007. He says a concealed gun is uncomfortable during hot Texas summers, takes longer to draw in self-defense and won't deter a criminal.
"If a criminal sees you're armed, he's not going to mess with you," McCarthy says.
Texas Republican Rep. Debbie Riddle has asked the state's legislative council to draft an open-carry bill. She wants to see how other gun-rights bills fare, particularly one to allow concealed weapons on college campuses."
Republican state Sen. Jeff Wentworth, who sponsored the college campus bill, opposes open carry. "I think that's harkening too far back to the Wild West," he says.
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