President Obama's executive action to expand the definition of gun dealers who must perform background checks elicited loud outrage from conservatives, as Republican presidential contenders warn that Obama wants to take all Americans' guns away. In the states, reports The Guardian, a quieter gun rights movement is gaining ground as lawmakers propose bills to pass new, even broader laws that allow gun owners to carry their weapons openly. On Tuesday, Florida lawmakers gathered to start their 2016 session, and will soon consider two gun bills: one to allow 1.5 million Floridians with concealed-carry permits to carry their firearms openly, the other to allow guns on college campuses.
Despite the gun control movement's momentum to pass new restrictive laws, today only Florida and four other states – California, Illinois, New York and South Carolina – prohibit open carry. The other 45 allow it to varying degrees. Even in the most open of open-carry states, gun rights advocates are scratching out new territory. Alabama has been gun-friendly since its inception. When Alabama's legislature reconvenes in February, it will consider a bill designed to allow students at universities to carry guns at school. In Alabama the age requirement to purchase a handgun is 18, so the bill would open up the possibility of freshmen walking to class armed. Why the push to campuses? “That's where the young people are,” says gun scholar Adam Winkler of UCLA. They are forming ideas about what's acceptable in society and what's not. More than that, he said, “It's a sign of the success of the gun rights advocates. There is little left for them to win. The campus is one of the few contested battlegrounds left.”