As per a survey conducted on gun owners in the US, it was estimated that about a third of adults in the country own a gun. Similarly, it is estimated that four out of every ten adults in the country live in a household that holds a gun. That’s how ingrained guns are in the US culture.
The US is only one among the three countries in the world with a constitution that allows the right to own a gun. Though there have been a lot of cries from across the country to repeal the gun law, the country still hasn’t repealed the ‘the right to keep and bear arms as guaranteed by the Second Amendment to the United States Constitution.
The Gun Control Act of 1968 (GCA) – The Federal Regulation
Though the American constitution gives its citizens the right to keep and bear arms, there have been several laws brought in place to regulate the use and sale of firearms. The Gun Control Act of 1968 (GCA) which regulates the use and sale of guns at a federal level was the prominent one.
According to The Gun Control Act of 1968 (GCA), citizens and legal residents of the US must be at least 18 years of age to purchase & carry shotguns/rifles and ammunition. Similarly, the purchase & storage of all other firearms including handguns can only be done by people 21 and older.
Apart from these, the act also allows the states and local officials to implement a higher age bar to legally procure a Gun.
It is interesting to note that though The Gun Control Act of 1968 (GCA) is a federal rule, the exact gun laws vary with state. While some states have taken steps to ban or strictly regulate ownership of assault weapons, in some others gun laws are still liberal.
For instance, California state has banned ownership of assault weapons with limited exceptions whereas Texas is probably the state with the most liberal gun laws.
Carrying a Gun in the US
Before we get going, let’s have a look at the two ways you can carry a weapon in America.
- Open Carry
- Concealed Carry
Irrespective of the type of carrying, both allow gun owners to carry a firearm with them. It’s just that as the name suggests, concealed carry licenses only allow owners to hide weapons so that no one can see them while they carry them. Whereas, open carry lets owners carry their firearms visible to other people, such as strapped to their belts. Note that the type of carrying permitted is a state’s discretion.
Now that we have discussed the type of carriers permitted, let’s have a detailed look at them.
Concealed Carry of Guns in the US States
The concealed carry of Guns in the US states is broadly divided into three
- Unrestricted States: Unrestricted states are those where no permit/license is needed to carry a concealed weapon. Note that unrestricted doesn’t mean the gun can be carried anywhere in the public. But yeah, in most cases the right to carry is unrestricted.
- May-Issue States: May issue states are those where an owner needs to obtain a permit before they can carry a gun concealed. Also, it is important to note that the local authorities get to decide whether or not to issue a concealed carry permit. The exact criteria to allow a permit varies from state to state.
- Shall-Issue States: Shall-issue states are those where you are guaranteed a concealed carry permit if you were to meet the criteria set by the state. These criteria include the minimum age to carry, and basic background checks and in some states, you are also required to attend gun safety training from a certified range as well.
Open Carry of Guns in the US States
Though the American constitution gives its citizens the right to keep and bear arms, most states don’t allow gun owners to carry firearms openly. For instance, California doesn’t allow any owners to openly carry a firearm irrespective of their background.
And then there are some states like Georgia & Florida that permit open carry provided the owners procure the permission from local authorities. But just because a state issues a license for open carry doesn’t mean you can get a license easily. Then there are some states like Texas where you can carry a firearm openly without a permit provided you don’t have a history of being convicted of felonies.
How are the Gun Laws in the US Changing?
As per a report published by the BBC in 2022, there were an estimated 90 million guns in the US. The report also pointed out the fact that there has been a 25% increase in gun-related homicide or suicide from five years prior and a 43% increase from 2010. Irrespective of these incidents, gun sales in the US have skyrocketed too. As of 2022, there are 120.5 firearms per 100 residents in the US – a 50% increase since the last decade.
With the growing international attention on the recent mass shootings clubbed with the estimate from the CDC that says around 53 people are killed each day by a firearm in the US, lawmakers and politicians are being pressured to advocate stricter gun laws in the country.
Notwithstanding the mounting pressure to repeal the second amendment, none of these bills has succeeded in passing the Senate. But over years, the background checks for the issue of firearm permits have been made strict.
Frequently Asked Questions on Carrying a Gun in the US
- What is the minimum age to obtain a permit to carry a firearm in the US?
As per federal law, the minimum age to obtain a permit to carry a firearm is 18. But note that depending on the state you are residing in the minimum age can vary but it can never be less than 18.
Similarly, the age criteria also change concerning the type of weapon you are trying to purchase.
- Who's restricted from purchasing or possessing firearms?
Non-citizens, fugitives, people who have been convicted of a felony, or a person who’s deemed to be a threat to society, mentally unstable persons, people who have been convicted of possession of controlled substances within the past year, etc are restricted from purchasing or obtaining a permit to carry a firearm.
Firearms are indeed a part of American culture and deeply ingrained in its citizens. As always, the key is the responsible use of weapons that involves proper storage, maintenance, and use of firearms. If you are on the hunt for sourcing parts for your rifle, we suggest you visit our online store for authentic products in the market.