Many states impose restrictions on the right to carry firearms due to the inherent danger of the weapons, coupled with the high probability of criminals using the firearms against the victims. However, law permits law-abiding citizens to carry concealed firearms to protect themselves when traveling. Some States have “shall issue” laws which provide permits to qualified individuals with little discretion.
A number of studies indicate that in states which adopted “shall issue” laws, the rate of injury and murder dropped to a considerable extent. Some studies have shown that laws permitting concealed weapons have resulted in a reduction of murder and other violent crime by about 10 percent. For instance, in Vermont, where a citizen has the right to carry a firearm without permits, has a very low rate of violent crime. Constitutionally, the U.S. second and fourteenth amendments provide for the right to keep and carry arms. Right-to-carry laws require law enforcement agencies to issue permits to all qualified applicants. Qualifications include criteria such as age, a clean criminal record, and proficiency in handling firearms, which is ensured through successful completion of a firearm safety course.
In 1986, only nine states had right-to-carry laws, whereas currently most states have right-to-carry laws permitting citizens to carry firearms to a limited extent. Right to carry firearms is generally granted after thorough scrutiny of the person’s criminal record and, physical and mental competency. Carrying firearms is prohibited in places including buildings owned or leased by the federal, state or local government, educational institutions and financial organizations. Law enforcement officials are also permitted to use firearms in the course of official duty.