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Virginia AG: Right To Carry Gun In Church Protected By Constitution

April 18, 2011 by  

Virginia AG: Right to carry gun in church protected by ConstitutionVirginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli has clarified a State law regarding gun possession in places of worship, saying that the 2nd Amendment grants citizens the right to carry a firearm for personal protection.

In his statement on April 8, Cuccinelli noted that churches, synagogues and other houses of worship have the right to ban weapons on private property, but not the State, The Associated Press reported. His opinion was issued in response to a query from Delegate Mark Cole (R-Spotsylvania).

Cole was confused about a law that makes it a misdemeanor to carry a "deadly weapon" into a worship service "without good and sufficient reason."

"The current State code is very poorly written, to the point of whether it’s even enforceable," Cole told the media outlet. "Why would you even write code like that?"

Cuccinelli said that carrying a firearm for self-protection is a "good and sufficient reason." However, citizens must abide by the rights of private property owners to ban weapons from their facilities.

Meanwhile, the Arizona House of Representatives has approved a gun-rights bill that would allow people to carry guns in most public buildings, including colleges and universities. According to The Huffington Post, if Republican Governor Jan Brewer signs the legislation, Arizona would become the second State to force public colleges to allow guns on campus.

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  • Jeremy Leochner

    I view such laws with disagreement most often. While I can understand ones desire and right to be protected and to bear arms I cannot understand why one would feel compelled or even inclined to carry a firearm into a house of worship. I agree and comply with granting houses of worship the rights of private property and right to decide for themselves as I never like the idea of government being involved in religion or vice versa. That aside I would say that carrying a weapon of self protection is a good and sufficient reason under some circumstances however I do not believe it is good enough in others. After all I see no reason to carry a weapon at a time or to a place of holy worship. For one thing I am no expert on religion and an agnostic myself but to my understanding all those who believe in god I would assume would have enough protection in a church to not warrant a weapon. Afterall who in their right or perhaps even wrong mind would go to a church with intentions sinister or nefarious enough to prompt those attending to require or desire a gun or any weapon for protection. To the best of my understanding unjust or bad people go to church for confession and redemption not destruction and crime. I apologize for being in anyway offensive but it is my view. If I have been please tell me.

    On schools I am also in disagreement. Afterall why would one need a gun in class. Personally I would think in a public school or specifically a university one should feel safe. Im always told that students at universities are supposed to be brainiac elitists with their ivory towers and fancy dress and way of speaking. I’ve never known elitists to resort to violence much less violence involving guns. If perhaps one was going to class at nightime when there are very few people around and can involve going great distances alone I would think it more reasonable to carry a weapon just in case. However at any time I feel is not required or too much.

    • JimH

      Jeremy, The Arizona law is just for collage. Twice that I can remember some one went crazy and started killing students on campus. Once in Virginia and once In Illinios at NIU.
      If the other students could have protected themselves there would have been less victims.
      Last year in Wisconsin someone started shooting in a church. Everyone was helpless, with no way to protect themselves.
      It is sad that people would need to have to protect themselves in a chuech, but it has happened.

      • Jeremy Leochner

        But Jim laws shouldn’t and can’t be based on crazy. By the logic of crazed men shooting one would argue that everyone on every college campus needs a gun at all times. With respect there is no way to monitor crazy. People having guns will not stop crazy people from trying to commit crazy actions and in the heat of such a moment an innocent victim with a gun trying to protect themselves could just as easily harm another innocent bystander. I know there are bad people in this world. But living in fear and carrying weapons at all times is not the way to go. Reasonable times and places for carrying weapons to help counter crime like robbery, assault and any other crimes that could be committed against college students or church goers is reasonable. I disagree with fighting crazy with guns.

        • independant thinker

          But Jeremy, in the past you have used the same single incident logic to call for increased government control in our life.

          • Jeremy Leochner

            In what way Thinker.

        • JimH

          Jeremy, How do you propose we protect ourselves from crazy? More to the point crazy with a gun.
          In your 1rst post you ask who in school would need a gun? I answered that. There are dead students from NIU and Virginia Tech that could have used one.
          Like you, I am appalled that people would be attacked in church, but it has happened. I don’t carry weapons in church,but that is a personal choice. I don’t have any qualms about a responsable person worshiping next to me with one.

          • http://?? Joe H.

            Jeremy,
            In some cities, the police are REQUIRED to carry at all times whether they are off duty or not. The only exception to this is if they are leaving the city limits while off duty!

          • Jeremy Leochner

            Joe that is police. These are men and women who have sworn an oath to enforce the laws and defend and protect the citizens. They have an officially sanctioned reason to be armed and have the training to handle a fire arm in any and all possible situations. Thats quite a difference from John and Jane Q public carrying a weapon at all times.

        • 45caliber

          Jeremy:

          There was a shooting at – I think – the University of Tennessee. It’s been awhile so I’m not certain.

          The shooter brought a rifle and was targetting students in front of the Student Center. He wounded three and was then stopped by other students.

          What the news never reported was that the three students who stopped him were all armed. When they heard the initial shots they came running. When they confronted him, he dropped his gun quickly and were credited with stopping the shooting of many more students. So not only was there a threat at the college but it was also stopped by armed students.

          • http://?? Joe H.

            jeremy,
            There are cops on the beat right now that have less experience than I do at being shot at and shooting back! I probably have more time at the range than some of them as well! As Far as your “protect and serve”, they are not required to protect anymore as decided by the courts!! so please don’t give me any of your bunk about “legally sanctioned”!!!!

    • http://personelliberty tom

      It is in just such places as churches and schools that the majority of “Innocent Civilian Shootings” take place because those with twisted minds wanting to kill people know there their victems won’t be armed. Common sense says that be creating “gun free” zones, what your really creating are “Free killing zones”. In this day and age, I carry a gun everywhere I go. All the more so in a Mall or convience store or anywhere some idiot wanting to see his name in the papers is likly to choose. I am licensed to do so and I take advantage of that license. I have no intention of becoming a stastic in a police report of a shooting incident, because of “Liberal Stupidity” towards guns. I’m in my 60′s, served in the military and work as a security supervisor.

    • Les

      True to your liberal roots, Jeremy, your belief is unaltered by facts. Schools and churches have been a main target for evil losers who want to make their statement about decency. Jesus told his followers to bring their sword and it wasn’t to cut the cake. He also braided a whip, that wasn’t for a sideshow either, He used it while tore up the riff raff!

      • Jeremy Leochner

        Les I can change my beliefs based on facts. For me I believe carrying guns is not neccessary. Perhaps that may change but I dont believe so. I feel for integrity sack and partly because im too lazy to go out and get a gun I dont feel I could carry a gun around with me. At the very least not to class or to a house of worship. My point is you cant stop crazy, at least not with weapons. If you can find the person who shows signs of crazy or distress and find out whats wrong maybe you can stop it in time. If not guns will not change what happened and it will not stop some other crazy person from trying again. Then all that happens is potentially anyone carrying a gun could become a killer themselves. Self defense is perhaps excusable but that dose not make it acceptable or neccessary.

        • http://info@CCIFST.com Daniel Corcoran

          As a former police officer and assistant chief in South Florida I firmly believe that citizens should be able to carry a firearm into a church or school property. There have been too many incidents of shootings at schools and on church properties that resulted in death and injuries. If just one of the victims had been armed the outcome could have been much different. I firmly believe that the state legislature should focus on demanding a more stringent training curriculum rather than continuosly passing additional punitive laws that have had little impact deterring the criminal element from commiting crimes. Most states only require a course of instruction that is only three hours to attain a permit. The guidelines should require continuous education and practice for proficiency. It is my opinion that in the foreseeable future we may begin to see a rise in firearms related shootings at synagogues and churches.

        • http://?? Joe H.

          Jeremy,
          As to your claim that you can’t stop crazy, then why have the police armed??? Why arm our military??? you may not be able to prevent ALL that they do, you may be able to stop a man/woman from shooting a dozen instead of ONE!!!! I for one think that is worth trying!! I have been shot at before and I am not afraid to return fire!! I hope that some day you are not in a situation that you have to see that in action!!

          • Jeremy Leochner

            I thank you for your wishing me well Joe. And I honor and thank you for what ever action you performed to require you to face bullets. On military and police I think it is a different matter. Military and Police are created and maintained for the purpose of domestic security and peace. They have an offical duty and responsibility to defend, protect and serve against any and all possible threats crazy or not. They have an official reason and duty to carry a weapon. Your average Joe on the street has no such official duty or responsibility and likewise may not have the training or experience to know how to act in stressful situations and may in fact make them worse. If there is an officer of the law or an off duty soldier they could deal with a crazy situation but for someone without such discipline they could be as much a threat to themselves and others as they could be to any crazy person. I believe only those with offical responsibilities, training and experience should have a gun at all times. For the rest I would think it reasonable to have them at certain times and places but not always and anywhere.

        • 45caliber

          Jeremy:

          Wnd.com has a number of books for sale. One they advertise is about being armed at all times – including at church. It is written by a pastor who was at a service in Africa with about 1000 people present. Several attackers showed up with the intent to kill all of them. When he fired back, they ran away.

          I believe the book is called “Shooting Back”. You might want to read it.

    • Darrell

      Guns are alot like GOD in some aspects, one sometimes has to experience a tragic circumstance in their life before they are awakened to see the Truth.

      • Jeremy Leochner

        Darrell What if one has experienced tragedy in their lives but dont think guns are the best response.

  • Shadowmerlin

    Jeremy, if you do a web search for “shot in church” you’ll find lots of instances of people who, “in their right or perhaps even wrong mind”, DID “go to a church with intentions sinister or nefarious enough to prompt those attending to require or desire a gun or any weapon for protection.”

  • Doc Sarvis

    Ah, what would Jesus do? Certainly NOT carry a gun to church.

    • John

      There were no guns in the days of Jesus, so his diciples carried swords, read the Bible.

    • Eddie47d

      ….or a dagger since there wasn’t any guns back then. Jesus would be appalled at any worshiper carry any weapon and would look at Himself as a failure in His message if they were to do so. I also believe He would have been the first to go to the defense of others if someone tried to commit a crime in church.Christians do make enemies and hold grudges even in church so maybe some folks do see the need to carry. Most would just leave and join another congregation but occasionally one might return to inflict harm.

      • independant thinker

        Eddie, Doc, Jeremy, the argument is not whether a person should carry in church but rather that the state has no right to restrict a persons right to carry if he wishes. It is up to the individual congregations to decide if they want to allow guns to be carried in their services and the individual members to decide if they want to carry.

        • Eddie47d

          That might be so about that’s individuals right but many on the right are trying to prove points by carrying into churches,Starbucks and schools. Sometimes it is becoming more of a threat than a right.Some want guns in bars and in volatile court houses. It will be interesting to see how this plays out.

          • independant thinker

            I am not aware of any incidents of people carrying a weapon into a church or Starbucks if said place expressed a desire to not have firearms present. I am also not aware of any incident of anyone carrying into a school (not counting those with mayhem on their mind) unless said school had provisions specifically permitting the gun.

        • Jeremy Leochner

          I can respect that. I guess I couldnt resist saying what I thought. Thanks-your right Independent Thinker.

      • 45caliber

        Eddie:

        Jesus would be appalled by one of his followers being armed? I don’t remember the exact verse but there is one that tells that he told his followers that if they didn’t have a sword to sell their cloak and buy one. And at that time the cloak was meant to keep you warm day and night and was every important.

        So I do believe you are wrong.

    • maggiemoo

      Ah, but Jesus wouldn’t NEED a gun for protection, would he Doc?

    • Jay

      Jesus didn’t need weapons. There were several attempts on his life prior to His crucifixion, none were successful as He just slipped and disappeared through the crowd, using His power’s of Deity. We are human, packing a rod may be a more sensible approach to ensure personal safety!

  • http://PersonalLibertyDigest Randy 131

    If people are allowed to carry guns on college campusses, then those college masacres could be eliminated by the students being able to defend themselves. But why would a liberal want someone to be able to defend themselves, especially a law abiding citizen, who are the only people allowed to have a gun carry permit, which includes students?

    • 45caliber

      Armed students did save a number of people on one campus (see my comments above) but the media wouldn’t tell that story. They made it appear that the three students simply tackled him instead of telling him to drop his gun or die.

  • Clyde

    Jeremy,
    Sick people mad at the ok world feel safe going to a church to vent the anger they hold. My church is safely protected by Jesus Christ who is fully in control. However at any time two FBI agents, and two permitted and very well trained citizens will be armed. No one in the church but us know who.
    CP

  • methodius

    I am a pastor and have been for 13 years. My congregation was robbed at gunpoint one Easter morning as the service was concluding. Next to Christmas Eve it is our largest service and the perps made quite a haul. We also had an incident with a mentally disturbed man that was thankfully handled by an off duty sherrif’s deputy who was armed. People are threatened and even harmed in churchea far more frequently than some of you give credit to.

    And I can tell you, as a highly trained theologian (I have a Masters in Theology with a heavy emphasis on the Biblical languages) that Jesus was not the pacifist some of you make Him out to be. “Turning the other cheek” is in reference to being persecuted for your faith – not in a situation of self-defence. Jesus’ disciples carried swords and were encouraged to buy them. Justifiable self-defence of ones self, neighbor, and property is Biblically supported. The government is given the “power of the sword” (capital punishment) for good reason.

    Yes, Christ was an advocate of loving one’s neighbor, but He does not call upon His followers to be stupid or “put God to the test.” The idea that we are supposed to simply place ourselves at the mercy of some lunatic disarmed simply because we are in a church is as absurd as a Christian walking down the street of a ghetto with a bunch of expensive jewelry on, inviting a mugging saying, “God will protect me.” God gives us common sense and tools to use for our benefit. Guns are no more evil inside of a church than they are outside of the church. They are simply tools that can be used for good or evil and that is dependent upon the heart and intention of the user – not the tool itself.

    God calls us to be many things as we work at being a “light unto the world,” but He does not call upon us to be purposeful victims or fools.

    • Bitter Libertarian

      Thanks for sharing this, I agree 100%. I will say that if a ‘robber” was only going to steal property, My sidearm would only be used if he/she were going to do bodily harm to me, or someone near me. “property” does have a right to be protected, but can, in most cases be replaced, and is not worth taking someones life IMHO.

      As far a bringing a gun into a Church, I say if the land owner allows you to carry..nothing wrong with that.

      My only question about the Article is: Are they referring to the Second Amendment of our Constitution or the States Constitution?

    • independant thinker

      Well written methodius.

    • Doc Sarvis

      With leadership/lessons like this it is no wonder congregations are shrinking in this country.

      • methodius

        Doc, your theory does not hold true. The churches that are shrinking are the ones that are abandoning the Truth of God’s Word for some liberal, touchy-feelly clap-trap. My congregation’s membership has grown or remained steady since I came here 7 years ago despite being an older congregation and suffering a fair amount of die-off in that period. We are over 500 members strong and still growing. And we are in the middle of nowhere in NE Wisconsin – not a big city.

    • Jay

      Just plain common sense!

    • 45caliber

      Very well put, methodius. I fully agree. While I’ve never carried a gun into a church, I have carried one in my car and I have a Bible cover that a .45 fits nicely inside.

    • Catman

      Methodius…Your comments are right on as they say nowadays. Ihav carried a firearm since the age of 18. I am now 78. Have I had to use it? NO and I thank God every day that I didn’t. Have I had to let a scumbag know that he would be dead meat if he proceeded with htis intentions? YES, several times. Would I have “pulled the trigger”? Only God knows that. BUT, I feel I would have in order to protect mine or someone elses life. By the way,I am a 30 year veteran of law enforcement and an additonal 10 years in the military. Yes I still carry concealed. “It ain’t no cannon”, but it will do the trick if necessary.

  • jopa

    methodius:Mount a machine gun in your church if you want and that is your religious belief.I am not anti-gun but if everyone was walking around with guns at all times many a heated argument would turn deadly that much easier.I know myself personally I would never make a good cop.If I came upon a scene and a woman was being raped, I would become the judge, jury and executioner without batting an eye.Guns are great but only in the hands of the wise and experienced.I look upon guns as not just for an equalizer and protection but as a work of art if you were to look closely at some of the productions over the years.There are some true masterpieces.

    • Gary T

      This is a typical liberal response to allowing people to protect themselves. It’s going to be a wild west shootout every time the people want to make sure the 2nd Amendment is upheld. And every time it is shown not true. That’s why criminals go to places like schools, churches, etc. to attack innocent people- they know they can get away with it.

      • Jay

        The only wild west shootouts seem to be among the criminal element, naturally, since they do not abide by the law of the land.
        There are millions of law abiding gun owners who do not engage in wild west shootouts!

        So much for your theory jopa!

    • wizard5

      Jopa, research your facts. When people are conceal carrying legally, it does not turn arguments into old west shoot outs. You said, olny in “the hands of the experienced and wise’…Meaning law enforcement only I can only assume from that. Yep, the public as a whole should not have a right to defend themselves…Sigh…

    • 45caliber

      jopa:

      Many heated arguments could become deadly?

      In the first place, I’ve very seldom seen a “heated argument”. When I did it was always between two young people. Second, carrying a gun makes you aware that you yourself are mortal. You are far more careful about what you do and say. Thirdly, the idea that there were lots of gunfights in the old West since people carried guns, is a movie industry myth. Such things rarely happened except in gold camps when men were trying to rob someone else who resisted.

    • Catman

      JOPA…Ever heard the phrase “An armed society is a polite society”?
      The anti-gunners ALL spouted the BS that there would be blood in the streets when Florida passed it’s concealed carry law. They said the same damn thing for the next 12 states that enacted their CCW laws. It ain’t happened my friend!!!! As for your not being cut out to be a cop, not everyone is. I am proud to have been in law enforcement for 30 years.

  • Kilgore Trout

    I think you right wing lunatics best be carrying your guns to church – lest god smote you down!

    • Bitter Libertarian

      lol what the heck are you talking about? lol

      • http://deleted Claire

        If there wasn’t so much hate and evil in the world, we wouldn’t have to think about carrying a gun to church. Pathetic.

        • 45caliber

          Claire:

          I agree. It is really sad, isn’t it?

        • Robert Smith

          I’ll bet Tiller wishes he had brought a gun to church so he could defend himself against some religious nut.

          Rob

          • Jay

            Yes robert, a religious nut like you!

    • Jay

      And I think that you leftwing sissy boys best stay out of our way, lest we smote you down! Gearbox!

    • Jay

      kilgore, you’re a wing nut!

  • Bob from Calif.

    I read of an incident in Africa, where three muslims went into a church, intending to kill everyone with Ak’s and grenades. They did manage to kill three or four people and injured about fifty. Luckily for the congregation one man was carrying a firearm and started to return fire. The bad guys thought twice when fired on and left with their tails tucked between their legs. Thanks to this one man with a gun, hundreds were saved.

    • James

      If someone had a firearm in Ft. Hood, Texas massacre, Major Hasam wouldn’t have been able to shoot 44 people (killing 13). Such assassins take advantage of places where they know no one has a gun.

  • http://com i41

    Wen the libatards and socialist progressives ask what would Jesus do, they had better ask what the pedophile goat abusing Mooohameed do. Since liberials and dumbocraps think muslims are peaceful, Clypso Louie Fkacoon freaks wure carry guns all the time. Go to any black church if there is any gang bangers and their mamees there will be some firepower in the pews and it sure will not be coming from heaven. If every person carried a fire arm there probably would be some deaths but the mental morons would get cleaned out and free up more prison space and save court costs with out any repeat offenders.

  • James

    Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli is a constitutional idiot.

    In United States v. Cruikshank, 92 U.S. 542, 553 (1875), a mob of whites had disarmed many blacks (in Louisiana) and the issue was whether that action had violated the right of blacks to bear arms, and thus violated the Second Amendment. Mr. Chief Justice Waite said: “This is not a right granted by the Constitution. Neither is it in any manner dependent upon that instrument for its existence. The second amendment declares that it shall not be infringed, but this, as has been seen, means no more than that it shall not be infringed by Congress. This is one of the amendments that has no other effect than to restrict the powers of the national government.”
    In Presser v. Illinois, 116 U.S. 252, 265 (1886), Mr. Presser claimed that an Illinois Military Code provision (requiring state permits for parades, which he had ignored) was a violation of the U.S. Constitution and his Second Amendment right. As to the latter, the High Court said: “A conclusive answer to the contention that this amendment prohibits the legislation in question lies in the fact that the amendment is a limitation only upon the power of congress and the national government, and not upon that of the state.” (The Court cited Cruikshank as authority.)
    In Miller v. Texas, 153 U.S. 535, 537-8 (1894), Mr. Miller was indicted and convicted for murder in Dallas County, Texas, and the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals had affirmed the conviction. At the U.S. Supreme Court, the issue was whether Miller’s Writ of Error was valid – not his guilt or innocence. The Court said: “We think there is no federal question properly presented by the record in this case, and that the writ of error must be dismissed upon that ground.” Then concerning Miller’s contention that a Texas gun-law had violated the Second and Fourth Amendments, the Court said: “We have examined the record in vain, however, to find where the defendant was denied the benefit of these provisions, and even if it were, it is well settled that the restrictions of these amendments operate only upon the federal power, and have no reference whatever to proceedings in state courts.” (The Court cited Cruikshank, and 5 other federal cases as authority.)

    Then, 114 years later, in District of Columbia v. Heller, 554 U.S. ____ (2008), the Court cited and quoted Cruikshank, and reaffirmed all of that (in footnote 23) with this:

    “With respect to Cruikshank’s continuing validity on incorporation, a question not presented by this case, we note that Cruikshank also said that the First Amendment did not apply against the States and did not engage in the sort of Fourteenth Amendment inquiry required by our later cases. Our later decisions in Presser v. Illinois, 116 U.S. 252, 265 (1886) and Miller v. Texas, 153 U.S. 535, 538 (1894), reaffirmed that the Second Amendment applies only to the Federal Government.”

    This unbroken series of High Court decisions, contrary to popular musings, clearly state that the Bill of Rights’ restrictions, including the Second Amendment’s “shall not be infringed” apply exclusively to the federal government.

    I’ll be back with the Virginia Constitution quote.

    • independant thinker

      Try checking McDonald vs Chicago.

      • James

        Independent thinker, I did, see below.

  • James

    Virginia Constitution Article I, Section 13 reads:

    “That a well regulated militia, composed of the body of the people, trained to arms, is the proper, natural, and safe defense of a free state, therefore, the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed; that standing armies, in time of peace, should be avoided as dangerous to liberty; and that in all cases the military should be under strict subordination to, and governed by, the civil power.”

    While too wordy, it still says “The right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed. That is the high law that pertains to the State of Virginia. In McDonald v. Chicago (2010), the Supreme Court held that the right to bear arms (at least as to handguns) is now included in the “liberty” of the 14th Amendment’s Due Process clause, which now applies to all states, but Virginians already had the right.

  • 45caliber

    There is an existing law in Mass. that REQUIRES all adult males to carry a gun to church.

    It was adopted at the time when there were still Indian raiding parties in that area. The Indians learned that most people then didn’t take their guns to church, so they raided at that time. So far it has never been repealed – probably because they have always ignored it.

    • Jay

      45caliber, thanks for that history tidbit!

  • 45caliber

    I used to be on the Trustee Committee at my church. I was called one day by our pastor to tell me that they were having a special meeting that night to talk about security and safety at the church. I couldn’t attend due to prior committments but I told the pastor that I was in favor of any such plans up to and including having a few people bring a gun to church.

    My pastor was shocked at the idea and told one of the women who happened to be at the office that day. She told the pastor that it would be a surprise to learn just how many people were bringing a gun. A number of women carried guns in their purses at all times – and I’m certain that it included her.

  • Catman

    Guess I am just very lucky to live in a state where we believe in the Constitutiion of the United States, especially the 2nd amendment.
    Arizona is one of only three “Constitutional” carry states. We don’t even have to have a permit so long as the carrier is not a felon nor is mentally disabled/ defective. The other 2 are Vermont and Alaska.
    HOWEVER, most people who do carry concealed also get a CCW permit as most of the bordering states recognize our permits, (most except California of course).

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