5 Things Every Gun Owner Needs to Know in 2018

The start of a new year often brings changes of which you may or may not be aware. This report will present you with 5 important things that you as a law-abiding gun owner must know to stay on the right side of the law.

Some states enacted new laws regarding where and how you can carry a handgun. Some changed the procedures to obtain and renew a carry permit or added new levels of licenses. As each state’s lawmaking process is different, some of the laws passed in 2017 went into effect throughout the year while others did not go into effect until January 1, 2018.

State and federal lawmakers were busy last year, and if all indications are correct, 2018 will see additional efforts to address our Second Amendment right to keep and bear arms.

1. New Carry Laws and Interpretation of Existing Laws

In 2017, at least 16 different bills were introduced to allow students and faculty to carry guns on college campuses, passing in Arkansas and Georgia, making them the 10th and 11th states to specifically enact “campus carry” laws.  Bills failed in Alabama, Florida, Oklahoma, South Carolina, and Wyoming. Twenty-four other states allow concealed carry weapons on campus, but give each college or university the discretion to administer their own policies.

Kansas

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Kansas recently became a “Constitutional Carry” state in that it is lawful for a law-abiding citizen to carry a firearm, without a permit, in the open or unconcealed anywhere except for areas that have been exempted via statute. But that did not deter some state university officials from questioning its implementation on state college campuses and imposing policies the prohibited the carrying of a firearm on campus with a round in the chamber. In July of 2017, the State Attorney General, Derek Schmidt, issued ATTORNEY GENERAL OPINION NO. 2017- 9 that stated the governing bodies of state universities were free to enact policies that prohibit carrying a weapon on campus that has a round in the chamber. You can expect more colleges to implement similar language in the coming months.

Georgia

Beginning July 1 of last year, individuals with a valid concealed handgun license are allowed to carry a concealed handgun on any campus in the state’s public college and university system. There are still some places on campus where guns are banned, such as student housing and athletic facilities. Furthermore, if a high school student is in the class, no weapons are allowed. It is the responsibility of the gun owner to know the rules.

Georgia has also made it easy for those moving the Peach Tree State with an out-of-state concealed carry permit Georgia honors. They now have 90 days to apply and get a Georgia Permit before their former home state permit is no longer valid in Georgia.

Georgia now recognizes firearms permits issued by the Commonwealth of Virginia.

Tennessee

A law went into effect on July 1, 2017, that enables an individual that is granted an order of protection to carry a handgun without a license while the protective order is in place for up to 60 days. Once the order expires or is dissolved, the individual may no longer carry a handgun under this particular law.

Tennessee also strengthened its Preemption Law last year which lets those whose right to possess firearms was adversely affected by a local ordinance seek relief and recover costs. The law also prohibits restricting firearms on County/City Public Buildings/Property unless certain conditions are met to keep firearms off the property, such as installing metal detectors at all entrances and having security or law enforcement officers trained to conduct searches.

Ohio

The Buckeye State made several changes to its carry laws that went into effect in 2017, including the following:

  1. Prohibiting a business entity, property owner, or public or private employer from banning a person who has been issued a valid CHL from transporting or storing a firearm or ammunition when the items are locked in a person’s privately-owned motor vehicle on company property.
  2. Allowing CHL-holders to keep their handgun locked in a motor vehicle on school premises.
  3. Allowing colleges and government bodies to decide for themselves if concealed-carry should be allowed.
  4. Allowing CHL-holders to carry on private aircraft, in the non-secure area of airports and in day-care centers (unless the daycare posts a “no-guns” sign).
  5. Allowing active military members who have the same or greater training than that required to obtain a concealed handgun license (CHL) to carry a concealed firearm as a license-holder to carry without a license.
  6. Allow the sale of firearms to active duty military members without regard to their age. Current law prohibits those under 21 from purchasing a handgun.

New Jersey

On October 20, 2017, New Jersey Attorney General Christopher Porrino issued a memorandum to prosecutors and police departments throughout the Garden State halting the enforcement of laws that prohibit the possession of stun guns and Tasers. However, the matter is not as clear-cut as it appears. Other provisions of NJ law regarding stun guns remain in full force and effect including prohibitions against “certain person” from possessing stun guns and making it illegal to possess stun guns in any school, college, university or other educational institution without written authorization. Furthermore, N.J.S.A. 2C:39-5(d) makes it unlawful to possess a stun gun under circumstances not manifestly appropriate for such lawful uses as it may have. What that means is unclear and may be subject to differing interpretations by prosecutors.

South Carolina

South Carolina added the Mississippi Enhanced Permit to the list of permits it now honors. This brings to 23 the number of States South Carolina Honors. South Carolina only honors Resident Permits from those 23 states.

Utah

Utah has started issuing Provisional Permits as of May 9, 2017. The Provisional Permit is for those 18 – 20 year-olds and expires on their 21st Birthday. They can then convert it to a regular permit. It takes the same criteria to apply as for the Regular Permit. Those with Provisional Permits CAN NOT carry in schools like those with a Regular Permit. If you apply for their Non-Resident Provisional or Regular and are from a state that honors the Utah Permit you have to have a permit from your home state.

North Dakota

North Dakota allows for Permitless Carry for North Dakota Residents ONLY, provided they are at least 18 years-of-age and not otherwise prohibited from possessing a firearm. Nonresidents and those visiting the state must have a valid concealed carry permit.

California

A whole chapter can be written about the new gun control laws that went into effect on January 1, 2018, in California. But the key laws that are now in effect restrict the purchase of ammunition, certain firearms, and limit magazine capacity.

You can no longer buy an “assault weapon” (as defined by California to be any semi-automatic, centerfire rifle or semi-automatic pistol that lacks a fixed magazine plus at least one of a number of other features) and any you already own must be registered with the state by June 30, 2018.

You can no longer purchase ammo online and have it shipped to your home. All online-sales must be shipped to a licensed vendor. You have to go through a licensed dealer to transfer or buy ammo. Beginning in July 2019 you will have to undergo a background check to purchase ammunition. Nor can you bring into California any ammunition that was purchased in another state. So, if you plan on visiting the state to hunt, for example, you will have to buy your ammunition from a licensed dealer in California.

National Parks

Carry in National Parks is allowed if you can legally carry in the state the Park is located. Administration buildings and other areas a park may choose to designate can be off limits, but by federal law, any place off limits in the Park “Must Be Posted” per 18 USC Sec. 930.  If they don’t have a sign, then there is no violation of Federal Law.

2. Traveling

There has been a lot of chatter on the web and on blogs regarding national reciprocity and what that means for you. At this time, the proposed bill that would force all states that issue its own concealed carry permit to accept the concealed carry permits issued by every other state without regard to any reciprocity agreements that may exist currently.

However, that bill passed the House of Representatives in Washington, D.C., but it must still navigate the waters in the Senate, where opposition to the House bill is more organized.  The fate of national reciprocity is up in the air at this time, so if you plan on taking your gun with you on vacation when you leave your home state, be aware that you must be in compliance with the laws of the state you visit and are subject to any current reciprocity agreements that may exist. For example, not all states will recognize a permit issued legally by another state to someone under the age of 21, even if that person is a member of the military.

As you travel across the country, be aware that laws are constantly changing in the states and in local municipalities. You are charged with the responsibility of knowing each and every one of the laws of the jurisdictions you pass through.

For example, you may no longer bring ammunition with you into the state of California if the ammunition was purchased elsewhere.

To learn about a state’s laws regarding firearms, licensing, use of force and other firearm related topics, attend a seminar sponsored by U.S. and Texas LawShield and hear directly from experienced attorneys what you need to know to stay a law-abiding gun owner. To find an event and register, call 1(877)448-6839 or click here.

3. Licensing and Permits

As the new year begins, now is a good time to look at your concealed carry permit or your federal firearms license (FFL) for its expiration date. You don’t want to miss it, especially if there have been changes in the licensing procedures in your state.

Following are a few states that changed the way licenses are issued or renewed.

Tennessee

For instance, Tennessee’s law regarding obtaining a permit to carry a handgun either openly or concealed requires a license that is issued for eight years. If your license expires, you will not be allowed to carry your handgun in public. If your permit has been expired more than eight (8) years past the renewal date, you will need to start the complete process again.  This includes completing an eight-hour approved handgun safety course, paying the permit fee, being fingerprinted and undergoing a background check again.

Approved safety courses include a 50-question exam and a 50-round qualification at a shooting range to pass the course. However, starting January 1, 2018, all veterans or active military who pass the written test can skip the gun range portion. The state will now accept any form of acknowledgment that the applicant had four hours of extensive pistol training in the United States military.

It is recommended you apply for renewal six months before the expiration date to allow time for the application to be processed and a new permit issued. You can renew your permit by submitting a Renewal Application along with a check at any full-service Driver License Center or renew by mail.

Texas

The Texas Legislature was active in 2017, passing some pro-gun laws, including laws regarding obtaining a license to carry a concealed handgun (LTC). Previously, the license was referred to as a Concealed Handgun License (CHL). These laws became effective September 1, 2017.

The new law lowered standard original license to carry application fee from $140 to $40 sets the standard renewal license to carry application fee at $40. Senior Citizens and Indigent applicants can now obtain an LTC for $40 and renewal for $35. The application and renewal fees are reduced from $25 to $0 for active Texas peace officers and Texas Military Forces.

Another change to the licensing laws also applies to active duty, veterans, and Texas Military Forces who may now provide the department with any passing military firearm range scores in place of the range instruction part of the handgun proficiency course.

You want to look at your current license carefully to be certain of its expiration date. It can be confusing. Under Texas Government Code §411.183 the original license expires on the first birthday of the license holder occurring after the fourth anniversary of the date of issuance. A renewed license expires on the license holder’s birthdate, five years after the date of the expiration of the previous license.

Got that?

Texas makes it a little more convenient in that it permits you to renew your license online.

Oklahoma

A new law went into effect on November 1, 2017, that allows Active Military persons 21 years of age or older to carry in Oklahoma on their military ID with no other permit necessary. In addition, the Sooner state will start issuing permits to 18 to 20-year-old Oklahoma Residents who are Active Military, which is sooner than non-military residents that must be 21 or older to apply for a license.

Nevada

Nevada has also joined the ranks of states that are issuing permits to active military persons 18 to 20 years of age as opposed to the 21 years of age limit for the rest of the residents of the state.

Missouri

The Show Me State is among the growing number of states that are no longer requiring an individual to possess a concealed carry license to carry a gun openly or in some instances concealed. Missouri joined the ranks in 2017.

However, if you choose to travel outside the confines of the state with your firearm, you will need to review the laws of each state you intend to visit. At present, 34 states including those that immediately border Missouri have reciprocity agreements with the State that allows a person in possession of a valid license issued by Missouri to carry a concealed handgun in its state, subject to its own state laws.

In addition, there are some local jurisdictions in the State, such as St. Louis, that require an individual be in possession of a valid concealed carry permit before being allowed to legally carry a weapon openly within its jurisdiction.

For those individuals in possession of a concealed carry permit, it is valid from the date of issuance or renewal until five years from the last day of the month in which the permit was issued or renewed. For example, if your permit was issued on January 7, 2013, it will expire on January 31, 2018. If you fail to renew before it expires, you will have to undergo another background check through the National Instant Criminal Background Check administered by the FBI.

Arkansas

Beginning on January 1, 2018, the state is supposed to be able to issue an enhanced carry license to individuals that undergo additional classroom and range training as set out by the Arkansas State Police. This enhancement is in addition to a standard concealed carry permit.

However, before any such enhanced carry license can be issued, the instructors in Arkansas must complete training on the new requirements to be taught to students. The instructors have a few months to complete the training, so individuals eager to obtain the enhanced carry license that will enable them to carry their weapon in more places than a regular license allows, will have to wait a little longer.

Federal Firearms License (FFL)

An FFL must be renewed every three years. The ATF will automatically mail a renewal application 90 days prior to the expiration date of the current license to the address of record.  If you intend to continue in the business of firearms as regulated by the ATF, complete the renewal application and submit it to the AFT. If, however, you have not received your renewal application 30 days prior to the expiration of the current license, you must contact the Federal Firearms Licensing Center (FFLC). You can call the FFLC at (866) 662-2750 toll-free.

Impact on You

Each state has established its own procedures for renewing a concealed handgun carry permit. It is up to the individual to know the law of their state because “I didn’t know” is not a valid defense before a judge.

To learn about your state’s laws regarding firearms, licensing, use of force and other firearm related topics, attend a seminar sponsored by U.S. and Texas LawShield and hear directly from experienced attorneys in your state what you need to know to stay a law-abiding gun owner. To find an event and register, call 1(877)448-6839 or click here.

 

4. Self-Defense Laws and the Second Amendment Under Fire

When it comes down to it, are you up-to-date on your state’s laws when it comes to when you are permitted to use deadly force or what are your rights to stand your ground or do you have a duty to retreat?

Second Amendment Court Decisions

The laws of the various states differ and are subject to change by federal and state lawmakers each legislative session. In addition, the courts impact the law by issuing rulings that interpret the law as they see it. Oftentimes these court decisions conflict with decisions from other courts, leading to a mixed bag of enforcement, and ultimately the matter may have to be decided by the U.S. Supreme Court, even though the Court has not taken up a Second Amendment case since 2010.

For 2017, here are some of the important laws and court decisions affecting your right to defend yourself and your loved ones.

Last year, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 2nd Circuit upheld Maryland’s Firearms Safety Act (FSA) which bans the sale of semi-automatic rifles and caps magazines at 10 rounds. The Court states the Second Amendment does not protect a right for citizens to own “weapons of war.” The U.S. Supreme Court refused to hear an appeal of this case, allowing the lower court’s decision to stand.

In Florida last year, the state Supreme Court upheld a conviction of a man for violating the state’s ban on open carry when his shirt did not completely cover his handgun, for which he had a concealed carry license. That ruling was appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court in 2017. The Court, however, refused to hear the case, allowing the state’s ban on open carry to stand. The lower court had ruled that the ban did not infringe on the Second Amendment because it only regulates one manner of bearing arms while still permitting those who want to carry outside of their property the opportunity to obtain a concealed carry permit.

In keeping with the trend to ignore the protections afforded by the Second Amendment, last year the U.S. Supreme Court also refused to take up the appeal of a California case that challenged the state’s “shall issue” status with regards to concealed carry permits.

But there was also some good news last year.

The District of Columbia dropped its appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court of an appellate court decision that ruled the district’s requirement that applicants have to provide a “good reason” to legally obtain a carry permit to be an unconstitutional violation of the Second Amendment.

That decision puts the issue of “shall issue” versus “may issue” clearly at odds with the California court’s ruling and may ultimately force the Supreme Court to finally take up a case to settle once and for all whether the right to obtain a license to carry a handgun is a fundamental right protected by the Second Amendment. We just have to wait and see.

Does Open Carry Mean You Give Up Your Right to Unauthorized Searches?

Last year, the 4th Circuit Court of Appeals (covers Maryland, Virginia, West Virginia, North and South Carolina) ruled that being armed, even legally, is the same as being “armed and dangerous” that, potentially, means a legally armed gun owner automatically waives the Constitutional prohibition against unauthorized search and seizure by law enforcement simply by being armed in public. That issue may ultimately be addressed by the Supreme Court.

Florida

In Florida, the state’s “Stand Your Ground” law came under fire.

Last year, a Miami Circuit Court ruled that Florida lawmakers exceeded their authority in the 2017 legislative session in updating the state’s Stand Your Ground” law. The legislators passed a law that required prosecutors prove by “clear and convincing “evidence that someone was not acting in self-defense, which shifted the burden of proof to the prosecutor. Previously, the defendant had the burden of proof to establish his actions were in self-defense.

However, the ruling is not binding on other courts in Florida that are free to follow the law until an appeals court or the Florida Supreme Court decides the issue.

Kansas

Last year in Kansas, the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that a man convicted of misdemeanor domestic battery can legally carry a gun under federal law because a federal law that prohibits someone from owning a gun if they have been convicted of domestic violence “under federal, state or tribal law” does not apply if the conviction is under a municipal ordinance. However, he may still be in violation of state and local law by carrying a firearm.

Missouri

Also last year, Missouri joined the ranks of states with “Stand Your Ground” laws that give law-abiding citizens the right to defend themselves with deadly force with no duty to first retreat, so long as they are in a place they are authorized to be, and the individual’s belief that deadly force was necessary to prevent deadly force from being used against them was reasonable.

5. Be Prepared

“Be Prepared” is more than just the Boy Scout motto. It is also something that everyone who owns a firearm or carries one for protection must accept the fact that they, too, must always be prepared.

When you are walking to your car alone one night and are approached by an armed assailant, you want to be able to quickly, efficiently, and effectively draw your own weapon and use it to defend your life. That situation is not the time to learn that you do not know how to properly draw your weapon or that the manner of carrying it is too restrictive and prevents immediate access.

Your life depends on being prepared.

There are a lot of gun owners that bought a gun for protection and maybe went to the firing range once or twice and then put the gun away or have never gone back to the range to stay sharp or proficient. That complacency can have serious consequences.

If you are serious about wanting to protect yourself or your loved ones, you need to get to the range and practice, practice, practice. Consider taking private instructions from an experienced firearms trainer. That may prove to be money well spent.

If you carry your firearm daily or even less frequent, you need to practice drawing your gun from its holster or your purse or wherever you carry it so that when the time comes for you to use that skill, you can do so confidently. At first, you may want to practice drawing your weapon unloaded until you get more proficient. Then you may introduce ammunition to the training exercise and practice drawing and firing at a target.

But being prepared goes beyond the physical. You must also be prepared mentally. You need to know and understand when you are legally permitted to use deadly force as opposed to non-deadly force. You must also be prepared to handle the aftermath. Have a plan as to what to do after you have been involved in a use of force encounter.

The best plan you can have is to be a member of U.S. and TexasLawShield’s Legal Defense for Self-Defense program in which you have 24/7/365 immediate access to an attorney answered emergency hotline to provide you with the legal advice when you need it most. As a member of the program, you will learn what to do after an incident, how to handle the 9-1-1 call, and how to deal with the police. A mistake in any of those steps can turn you from being called “victim” to being called “defendant.”

To find out more about the program, its benefits, and register, you can call 1(877)448-6839 or click here.

Remember, when it comes right down to it, your life and your freedom may be in your own hands. You will want to be prepared.

Impact on You

To learn about your state’s laws regarding firearms, licensing, use of force and other firearm related topics, attend a seminar sponsored by U.S. and Texas LawShield and hear directly from experienced attorneys in your state what you need to know to stay a law-abiding gun owner. To find an event and register, call 1(877)448-6839 or click here.

 

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