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.