The Second Amendment in the States

Right to Carry 2019
Right to Carry 2019

United States – -( Much of the focus on Second Amendment issues tends to be at the federal level. There are good reasons for this focus: Federal law sets the baseline for laws affecting our Second Amendment rights. Federal judges can overturn anti-Second Amendment state laws. The President can appoint new federal judges, and also can set the tone for what happens in the executive branch.

We have been very fortunate to have President Donald Trump these last two years. Some may nitpick about the bump-stock ban via the regulatory process, but that is far better than the legislation anti-Second Amendment extremists have wanted. As Duane Liptak pointed out in January, sometimes, the best that can be done in a given situation is to limit the damage. Trump’s judicial appointments, though, including those in the 9th Circuit, will be a massive shift over the medium to long term.

Those judges offer us a far better chance to strike down semi-auto bans, among other restrictions that are clearly in violation of the Second Amendment than those we would have gotten from Hillary Clinton, or those we could get from a Kamala Harris or Bernie Sanders. But the states are also an important battleground, for three reasons.

First, some state laws regulate areas touching on the Second Amendment that the federal laws don’t. This has been particularly true with carrying guns. The entire right-to-carry fight was primarily a fight that took place state-by-state. That success is something to keep in mind, especially when we consider a second factor.

That second factor is the fact that unlike say, immigration, state laws regarding our Second Amendment rights can go above and beyond federal laws. We saw this recently in Illinois, when they passed new regulations adding a state license for firearms dealers on top of the federal one. New York’s scam with a 30-day wait should a NICS check come back delayed is another one. States can pass their own laws about what firearms are and are not legal to an extent (thanks to the McDonald case, there is a bright line against states passing handgun bans).

This is why we get semi-auto bans and magazine bans from various states. This is also why the Extreme Risk Protection Order or “red flag” laws are also a state fight. Some states have even set up licensing and registration schemes like those Lyndon Johnson wanted to impose nationwide fifty years ago (said licensing and registration scheme was thwarted by the same NRA that some damn as “Negotiating Rights Away”).

States are also becoming players in another way. Just look at what Andrew Cuomo has been doing in New York, with his abuse of financial regulations against the NRA. That has been challenged in a lawsuit, and the NRA won the right to go to discovery. Other states with anti-Second Amendment election officials, though, are following in Cuomo’s footsteps.

On the other hand Ron DeSantis has been acting to hold the bumbling cowards of Broward who failed to stop the Parkland shooter accountable. These officials can also decide whether or not to enforce some existing laws against those who misuse firearms in the commission of a crime – thus locking them away for a long time.

So, the state level will be very important for 2019 and beyond. The good news is that NRA-ILA tracks a lot of the Second Amendment-related news in all fifty states, and also provides a good rundown on legislation. The best thing is, state legislative elections can be a good place to start making a difference with regards to our freedoms. So, get involved locally!

Harold Hu, chison

About Harold Hutchison

Writer Harold Hutchison has more than a dozen years of experience covering military affairs, international events, U.S. politics and Second Amendment issues. Harold was consulting senior editor at Soldier of Fortune magazine and is the author of the novel Strike Group Reagan. He has also written for the Daily Caller, National Review, Patriot Post,, and other national websites.