The right to keep and bear arms is guaranteed by the Second Amendment to the United States Constitution.Most States’ constitutions also have an enumeration of the right to keep and bear arms, with most explicitly affirming that it is a right retained by each person or individual.
Persons are generally prohibited from purchasing a firearm if:
they are under indictment for a felony, or any crime which could result in more than a year in prison.
they have been convicted of a felony, or any other crime for which they could have been sentenced to more than a year in prison.
- they are a fugitive from justice.
they are an unlawful user of, or addicted to, controlled substances, including marijuana.
they have been adjudicated mentally defective.
they have been discharged from the Armed Forces under dishonorable conditions.
they have been convicted of a misdemeanor crime of domestic violence.
they have renounced their United States citizenship.
The carrying of weapons, either openly or concealed, is regulated by the states. The laws regarding carrying weapons have been changing rapidly over the past ten years. As of 2016, most states grant licenses to carry handguns on a Shall-Issue basis to qualified applicants. A few states leave the issuance of carry permits to the discretion of issuing authorities (called may-issue), while eleven states allow the carrying of firearms in a concealed manner without a permit (called Constitutional carry). Twenty-six states allow for open carrying of handguns without a permit while, in general, twenty states require a permit to do so and four states plus Washington D.C. ban open carry of handguns.
In 2008, in District of Columbia v. Heller, the Supreme Court held that the right to bear arms was an individual right. In 2010, in McDonald v. Chicago, the Supreme Court extended the Heller ruling to the states. In 2012, in Illinois, Moore v. Madigan sought to overturn the state’s ban on carrying concealed weapons. The district court dismissed the case, but the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals ruled the ban on carrying firearms as unconstitutional.The state legislature passed a bill allowing concealed weapons shortly thereafter.
As of 2015, California’s laws regarding concealed weapons are being challenged in court. In Peruta v. San Diego County, the court said that the state’s strict “may issue” rules were unconstitutional and greatly reduced their reach.The ruling is stayed pending appeal. The final ruling declared that concealed carry is not a constitutionally protected right, which implicates open carry as constitutionally protected, despite California’s ban on open carry in any county with a population greater than 200,000. Additional lawsuits are pending to clarify the constitutionality of bans on open carry.