Utah sixth-grader brings gun to school
The sixth-grader has been arrested on charges of bringing deadly firearms to school. He allegedly waved the gun at others.
Police arrived on the scene after a call from a schoolteacher who was warned about the boy’s dangerous behavior by his schoolmate. They found the unloaded weapon and ammo in his backpack.
Most US states require a permit to carry a gun, but in four no such authorisation is needed: Alaska, Arizona, Wyoming and Vermont. One of these states went even further: guns can be sold in Vermont to people, aged 16 years or older, who are allowed to carry guns without even needing their parents' consent. Although if a teenager in Vermont wants to go unattended to an age restricted movie, they can't do that.
According to The Washington Post, Federal legislation does not set a minimal age for acquiring rifles. That is why only 20 states have set such age restrictions. However, the minimum age in New York is set at 16 and in Montana, it's 14. In the 30 states where no age limit has been set, even an eight year-old can legally possess a small shotgun.
But the rights of US citizens to acquire and use guns are much broader. For example, in 17 states including Georgia, the law specifically states that employers cannot stop their staff bearing guns at work, while in Indiana and North Dakota an employee can file a legal suit if they're even asked about owning a gun.
In the US there are a number of laws, supporting the "my home is my castle" concept, that allow homeowners to open fire if their "castle" is in danger. But in many states the such laws are open to very broad interpretation: people can open fire in public places if they feel endangered. That defence was used in the case of George Zimmerman who killed a black teenager, Trayvon Martin. Zimmerman claimed that he felt threatened by Martin despite the fact that the young man was not carrying a gun and did not address the man who shot him.
In many US states law enforcement agencies are not allowed to prosecute a citizen for shooting when it is clear that the person acted in response to a perceived threat, a claim which seems to bestow a certain immunity. Moreover, the person who fired the gun can file a lawsuit against the police if they're charged in such circumstances. Some analysts believe it is such laws that have led to a significant growth in the number of murders.
Permission to carry a gun in public places usually assumes that the gun will be hidden. But 37 states permit guns and rifles to be carried openly, while only 3 forbid it and in 47 that freedom applies only to rifles.
In 2010 a law was passed in Kansas, which allowed a gun to be carried in school, despite the fact that it had previously been forbidden by a special Federal act, cancelled in the 1990s. The state of Michigan has just recently passed a similar law, but its governor has yet to sign the draft law. At the same time, the latest, fatal tragedy in Newtown, Connecticut has reignited the doubt and the debate.