The open carry movement scored some big wins this year, indicating that ‘open carry’ has not lost steam as a legal and social engine of American gun rights. This year three states have legalized or expanded open carry rights, and two federal courts have struck down gun carry bans on the grounds that banning open carry in public violates the Second Amendment.
State legislatures in Alabama, Arkansas, and Mississippi passed open carry friendly legislation this year. The new open carry law in Alabama clarified state statutes that the open carry of handguns was permissible in public places without any permit, and cannot be considered “disorderly conduct.” For example, under newly enacted Alabama Code § 13A-11-7-c,
“It shall be a rebuttable presumption that the mere carrying of a visible pistol, holstered or secured, in a public place, in and of itself, is not a violation of this section.
Also this year in Arkansas, the legislature changed the elements of the offense known as "carrying a weapon" from mere possession “of a handgun, knife, or club on or about his or her person" to such possession "with a purpose to attempt to unlawfully employ the handgun, knife, or club as a weapon against a person.” [emphasis added]. As a result, adults in Arkansas no longer need a permit to carry a handgun concealed or openly.
And in Mississippi, after the state legislature clarified that open carry was legal, the state Supreme Court upheld the open carry law over a lower court's ruling that the law was too vague to be enforced. The National Rifle Association filed an amicus brief in this case which noted that open carry is common across the US, citing to OpenCarry.org.
John Pierce, co-founder of OpenCarry.org, and an attorney in Virginia, is not surprised by the continuing momentum of the open carry movement. According to Pierce, “open carry is the open-secret of the gun rights movement," adding that
“the actual right that is enshrined in so many state constitutions as well as the US Constitution continues to be open carry.”
This year Federal courts seem to agree with Pierce.
In Moore v. Madigan, United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit struck down Illinois’ state-wide ban on gun carry on the grounds that citizens have the right to carry - at least openly - firearms in public.
Subsequently on in Bonidy v. USPS Order the federal District Court in Denver struck down the United States Postal Service’s regulation banning gun carry in vehicles and on foot in postal parking lots because “[i]n sum, openly carrying a firearm outside the home is a liberty protected by the Second Amendment.”
Additionally, pursuant to the Fourth Amendment's protection against unreasonable search and seizure, the United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit reversed a lower court and held in Black v. United States that open carry of a holstered handgun does not provide cause for police to detain a citizen.