Packing Heat: Why we need the National Right to Carry Reciprocity Act
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Packing Heat: Why we need the National Right to Carry Reciprocity Act

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November 17, 2011, 11:10 pm
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Banning concealed carry permits will have no effect on criminals who are not disposed to comply with the law
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Congress this week passed a bill that would allow would allow gun owners who have a concealed-carry license in their home state to carry their firearm in another state if that state also has a carry law in place. The law, however, does not allow someone to carry a firearm in a state that does not currently allow its own citizens to have concealed-carry rights.  Illinois is the only state that does not permit its residents to legally carry a concealed firearm.

I have never understood why it was ok to discriminate   against a licensed owner of a firearm if he travels out of his home state to one such as New York or California which refuses to recognize concealed carry permits issued by sister states.   Forty-four states have a provision in their state constitutions similar to the Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.  Firearm owners are subject to the firearm laws of the state they are in, and not exclusively their state of residence. Reciprocity between states exists in certain situations. But some states will not recognize lawfully issued permits from sister states.

 New York civil rights law contains a provision virtually identical to the Second Amendment. In spite of this, and despite the fact that  the Supreme Court of the United States has held that the protections of the Second Amendment apply against state governments and their political subdivisions (McDonald v. Chicago). New York remains a virtual fortress against ownership of firearms by its citizens.  If you are caught with a loaded firearm at JFK, in transit to your home in Georgia, your Georgia permit will do you little good. You will be arrested and charged with an offense  which carries a minimum term of 3.5 years in prison, even if you have no criminal record.

Mayor Bloomberg of New York seems to believe that   permitting civilians to carry  handgun risks turning every argument between strangers into a ‘wild west shoot-em-up’ But I can think of no reason to believe that firearms should be any less useful to civilians, at least those properly trained to use them, than to police officers. Carrying a concealed if reasonably widespread, can create public security because it will not be evident to the crooks which potential victims or bystanders might be packing heat.

Over many years that states like Georgia and Texas have permitted handgun  ownership, I am certain there must have been  tens of thousands of instances where people  carrying guns got drunk, lost their tempers, were in traffic accidents, had domestic quarrels, and in short, experienced all of the psychological pressures which life is capable of dishing out. Yet there are very few instances anywhere in the country, of someone who was legally carrying a concealed handgun using that weapon in a criminal homicide. The rarity  of these  incidents is  reflected in Florida  statistics:  221,443 licenses  were  issued  between  October  1,  1987  and  April  30,  1994,  but  only eighteen  crimes  involving  firearms  were  committed  by  those  with  licenses.

We should be concerned, not with the number of times a firearm was displayed, let alone how often one was discharged, and certainly not how often someone was wounded or killed. What we really want to know is the number of times it was not necessary to issue threats because the potential culprit was dissuaded by the belief, or even dread, that his potential victim might be in possession of a concealed firearm. The availability of a concealed firearm poses an implicit threat to predators, potent enough to make explicit threats unnecessary. It is like walking through a minefield, you don’t see the mines, but you know if you step on one it will be deadly.

Polls  of American  citizens  by  organizations  like  the  Los Angeles  Times and  Gallup show that Americans  defend themselves  with guns between 764,000  and  3.6  million  times  each  year, with  the  vast  majority  of cases  simply  involving  people  brandishing  a  gun  to  prevent  attack.  Victims (such as women or the elderly) are  often weaker than the criminals who attack them.  A firearm for them is the ultimate equalizer. It’s time the movement to restrict private firearms to recreational activities and de-legitimize them as a means of self-defense is put to an end.

The situation in New York City is evidence that the effectiveness of local gun control laws can be defeated by gun runners, who load up on guns in low regulation jurisdictions and sell them illegally, in high regulation jurisdictions. Several years ago there was a push to get guns off the streets in DC. Many of the guns seized from criminals by Washington, D.C. police had originally been purchased in Virginia. Public outcry led to Virginia enacting a law that allowed only one gun per month to be purchased legally by a given individual.  The gun runners simply moved a few states south, to Georgia, where no such rationing was practiced.

Those who believe that reducing the supply of guns might hold the key to the reduction of gun violence are barking up the wrong tree.  Among these people, none is more incorrigibly optimistic than Mayor Michael Bloomberg of New York.  But how do you successfully regulate the market for a commodity for which there is no satisfactory substitutes, and which is in demand by people who are not disposed to comply with the law?

After a rash of shootings last labor day, The New York Times, said “Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg’s efforts to stamp out gun violence in New York were challenged over the Labor Day weekend by a spate of shootings… bullets flew at house parties, along parade routes and across stoops and street corners. By Monday’s close, 13 people had been killed and 67 injured in 52 shootings since early Friday…. but the violence also illustrated that for all the mayor’s efforts, unlicensed guns remain in the hands of criminals — and that admonitions can go only so far…Nine years into Mr. Bloomberg’s tenure, and more than five years after he first labeled unlicensed guns the city’s Public Enemy No. 1, it remains difficult to discern what effect his administration’s gun control efforts have had.”

In 2007, the first full year after the mayor zeroed in on guns, there were 1,443 shootings, compared with 1,473 last year, according to police statistics. In 2010, 309 people died from bullets — 6 more than in 2007. Mr. Bloomberg has also used lawsuits and undercover gun purchases in other states to focus attention on the fact that most guns used in crimes in New York were originally purchased out of state. He also created a national coalition of 550 mayors to fight with him.

The owner of supermarket chain in Bronx New York recalled a chilling episode, when he intercepted a robber fleeing one of his stores. He reported to police… “The first guy comes out with a sawed-off shotgun, goes right by me and says, ‘Be cool, man,’  “The second guy comes out with a sawed-off shotgun, goes by me and says, ‘Be cool, man.’ The third guy comes out with a sawed-off shotgun, and I intertwine my arm into his arm, and I put my gun to his head, and I say, ‘Drop your gun, or I’ll blow your head off.’ When the police arrived, they arrested the man, and examined the owners’ weapon — a Walther PPK/S 9-millimeter pistol.
“The sergeant says to me, ‘you couldn’t have shot the guy anyway: your safety is still on,’  “The sweat started dripping off my head. “I’m not going to do anything stupid like that again.” My bet is neither would the robber.

Author: Reynold Mason
Reynold N. Mason teaches law courses at Zenover Educational Institute In Atlanta, Georgia. He has been a judge on New York City Civil Court and, a Justice on New York State Supreme Court. Mason has been an adjunct professor of law at Medgar Evers College and Monroe College in New York. He has authored several legal opinions published in New York Miscellaneous Reports and New York Official Reports as well as the New York Law Journal. He lives in Atlanta.
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Packing Heat: Why we need the National Right to Carry Reciprocity Act
Packing Heat: Why we need the National Right to Carry Reciprocity Act
Thursday 17 November 2011
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