What I am concerned about is that there are certainly permit holders who are shooting others. You can see some of the incidents collected by the Violence Policy Center. As this article, which examines the issue from both sides, concludes, neither side has much scientific data to point to their assertions. And so the discussion and debate continues over the issue of concealed and open carrying of guns. Data would be helpful, " But such data is not collected by most law enforcement agencies and not compiled nationally, said Rand of the Violence Policy Center. Her group would like to see nationwide reporting of the number of concealed-weapons permit holders, a “systematic collection of arrest and conviction data” for them as well as hard data on the number of justifiable homicides they’re involved in". " The site says 130 civilians and nine police officers have been killed and 13 mass shootings have been carried out by people with concealed-weapons permits since May 2007." If you check on this link from the Violence Policy Center to the information, above, about incidents of shootings by permit holders, the number has gone up since the quote was made above.
To my point, here is just one of the more recent examples of a crime by a South Carolina permit to carry a gun holder. Thankfully, permits can be suspended, as it was in this case but sometimes that will come too late to save a life. This is senseless, to put it mildly and the man is lucky that no one was killed.
In Texas, lawmakers want 18-20 year olds to be able to legally walk the streets and hang out in public places with loaded guns. This blog by Dennis Henigan from the Brady Center, explores what is proposed in Texas. Think about 18 year olds you know. Do you want them walking the streets with loaded guns? Kids that age should just have fun hanging out with friends, playing sports, going to high school or college, being on the debate team or writing for the school paper. If these young people are college students, what kind of fun is it to be in constant fear that someone is out to get you on every corner? Is it actually fun to carry a heavy gun around with you everywhere? What about alcohol use and drug use? Apparently the NRA and other groups supporting legislation such as this have not considered the true danger in allowing 18-20 year olds to pack heat. This is just plain foolish and defies common sense. If Texas legislators are really concerned about life, they wouldn't even consider this nonsense. But when you are bought and paid for by the NRA and succumb to the love affair with your own guns, as the legislator who proposed this bill, common sense is not an option.
This article was written by an Oklahoma college student in defense of carrying guns on campus. I almost did a double take when I read this, from the article: " "It is dangerous for people to walk around campus with guns when their states of mind cannot be known," Mr. Akande said. Isn't that what the police do? I haven't been shot by a police officer or know anyone who has." Huh? Does this make sense? To equate a student walking around campus with a police officer is absurd.
I can see that more people will be carrying in more places, just as the gun lobby wants. This South Dakota city council decided to allow residents to open carry in public places. We are headed towards the normalization of citizens carrying guns everywhere. Soon enough, the criminals will also carry and we won't know the difference between the "good guys and the bad guys". On so many levels, this is a bad idea. Time will tell how this will all work out for public safety. In Portland, Maine, however, the opposite vote was taken. The arguments on both sides seem to be the same no matter where this issue is taken up. The solution just depends on who has the majority on city councils, state legislatures and Congress.
A recent expose on my local television news about permit to carry holders is a pretty well researched series about the effects of the Minnesota Personal Protection Act passed in 2005 and what has happened since. Here is the second in the series about using deadly force and the affect it has on the shooter. And yet another story in the series shows the reporter going through a simulated police training video designed to hone skills for determining when to use deadly force. What stands out, in the end, is that the police officers interviewed suggest that carrying a gun is a serious responsibility and that if you actually shoot and kill someone, it is very difficult to deal with the after affects. It is not as easy as the gun guys would have you believe.
In California, the Open Carry movement is heating up. Here is a blog about a petition by a California gun guy, supposedly representing a group called "Responsible Citizens of California". Really? Come on. To suggest recalling a sheriff because he received an award from the Brady Campaign is just plain ludicrous. If this is how the "gun nuts" want to be seen, then they will be the worse for it. The California Open Carry group is hiding behind a "Toys for Tots" sale to make their point that they should be allowed to carry their guns any place. They are going to meet at a burger place, "Nation's Burgers" in the Contra Costa area of California. When the group got wind of a protest by the California Brady Chapters, they changed their gathering into a collection of toys for the needy. Really? Come on guys. You can do better than this. The cynicism here is just dripping. What next? Giving out food to the needy with the guns strapped to their legs? This is just plain disgusting. This is just not common sense in any way.
The gun lobby's position is that guns get used more often for self defense ( that would include carrying guns in public places) than in crimes. Here is a study that refutes that idea and shows that the opposite is true. In fact, a quote from the article says that: " Regular citizens with guns, who are sometimes tired, angry, drunk, or afraid, and who are not trained in dispute resolution, have lots of opportunities for inappropriate gun uses. People engage in innumerable annoying and somewhat hostile interactions with each other in the course of a lifetime. It should not be surprising that inappropriate, socially undesirable "self-defense" gun uses by people who believe they are law-abiding citizens outnumber the appropriate and socially beneficial use of guns.6"
The contributors to this study, David Hemenway and Mary Vriniotis have summarized what I feel about the issue and what the majority of the public feels, when asked. Though this survey took place in 2001, it reflects what people have answered to this particular question many times since. From the abstract of the survey above: "The public believes that increased gun carrying by others reduces rather than increases their safety. Overwhelmingly, the public believes that in many venues gun carrying should be prohibited."
Both sides are caught up in their own rhetoric and emotion when it comes to the issue of who should carry guns and where they should be carried. So, what to do? Is there any place in the middle on this issue? I just know that I and others who work on this issue with me, don't want to be shot nor do we want others to be shot. We believe in prevention. We also do not think of public places as inherently dangerous, though recognizing that shootings do take place in many public places. My view is that I just don't feel that if I don't have a loaded gun, I will be less safe. The gun lobby feels just the opposite. For me this has more to do with the right to "life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness". There are 213 (see VPC link, above) people (since 2007) who will not be sitting at the Thanksgiving table with their families this year and in future years because someone with a permit to carry shot them to death. That is 213 too many and it does not make common sense.