non sequiter. The gun lobby loves to tell you that permit holders know they are not supposed to drink while carrying and that it is illegal in the first place. No worries then, for the rest of us who choose not to carry. No one who carries a gun into a bar or restaurant that serves alcohol will order a drink or a beer. I feel safer already. The obvious counter argument is that it's too late once the permit holder has actually had too much to drink and shoots someone. Are bar tenders now supposed to ask to see a permit or ask if someone has a gun on them before serving them a beer? How else can we stop people who decide to drink while carrying from drinking while carrying? Will law abiding citizens obey the laws concerning alcohol and guns? As more states pass laws allowing people to carry guns in places that serve alcohol, we will see how the laws work. Will the argument now be that guns are needed in bars to protect yourself from people carrying guns in bars?
The University of California Davis has released a 15 year old survey about people who drink and own or carry guns. The author of the survey decided to look again at the older data because no one has done a survey like this since his own was completed. It appears from the questions asked of respondents (15,000 in 8 states) that " According to a new analysis of data by Garen J. Wintemute, director of the UC Davis Violence Prevention Research Program, people who drink heavily and engage in risky behavior like drinking while driving are also more likely to own guns and carry a concealed weapon." At the time of the survey (1996/97) only 4 states had permit to carry guns laws. Now all states but one ( Illinois) allow carrying of loaded guns in public. But not all are uniform in allowing guns in places where alcohol is served. It is legal in Minnesota to do so. Now that we have decided as a country that the carrying of guns in public places is a good idea, we have created a potential for more gun incidents in public places. If Wintemute's information is correct, it is also likely that we will see an increase in gun incidents in bars and restaurants. I'm all about prevention. Why pass laws that will make it easier for people to shoot someone?
So let's look at a few examples of gun owners and permit holders not abiding by the laws already on the books. First, this one. A card game gone wrong after too much to drink. This could have ended with the fist fight during the drunken card game. But because one of the guys had a gun at home and too much to drink, it led to a potentially dangerous situation which ended in the arrest of the gun owner. Here's another shooting at a tavern in Philadelphia. Does anyone else think it's ironic that people can't smoke in bars, restaurants and public places but they can bring a gun in? Smoking, and second hand smoke, have been proven to be dangerous to our health. Because it costs the health care industry so much money to treat people with smoking related diseases, and because too many people die as a result, we have taken many steps to prevent illness and deaths from smoking. We don't allow people to smoke in public places. Why do we allow loaded guns in public places? They are potentially as much of a risk to health and public safety as are cigarettes. The difference? Smoking is not protected by a constitutional amendment. Another difference? Alcohol is known to alter one's judgement which is never a good idea around a loaded gun.
North Carolina is considering a law to allow guns in places where alcohol is served. This blog post is written in opposition. Dr. Art Kamm, the author of the piece gives the obvious reasons why drinking alcohol while carrying a gun is a terrible idea:" Ethanol, the type of alcohol we drink, is a psychoactive substance and a legally permitted recreational drug. It interacts with multiple neurotransmitter systems and is behavior modifying. The substance can produce impaired judgment as well as emotional liability, i.e., excessive mood swings ranging from rage to euphoria. Law enforcement officials are all too familiar with alcohol-related violent behavior." I hope you will read the rest of this article. The arguments are made in such a reasoned way that it becomes a stretch to believe the arguments coming from the gun lobby.
The Ohio legislature passed a law (not yet signed by the Governor) allowing permit holders to carry in bars and restaurants. Here is an article about why this is not a good idea. This article, written by an Ohio Mayor who chairs the Ohio Mayors Against Illegal Guns makes a lot of sense. You wouldn't know it by the comments made on the article, however. Common sense tells us all that guns and alcohol just do not mix. They make for a lethal cocktail no matter how you look at it. This should be an area of agreement between the gun lobby and the gun control advocates. But instead, it seems that if a few people lose their lives in shooting incidents in bars in states where people can drink and carry, so what? As long as the rights of the gun guys are protected, some collateral damage is acceptable.
How did we get to this place in our national discourse when we have determined that drinking and driving is dangerous and results in penalties? How did we get to this point in our national discourse that, because of proof that smoking in public is dangerous to the health of our citizens, we ban it in public places? How did we get to the point in our national discourse that allowing loaded guns in public places is not considered to be dangerous to the health and safety of our citizens? From the linked piece ( Dr. Kamm) "It has additionally been argued that concealed weapons have been permitted in restaurants and bars in several other states without problems. Such an argument is invalid regarding safety because the issue is not the history; it is the potential. In fact it is this very mind set that often prevents common sense regulation from being put into place that later results in loss of life or damage to our public. As examples, should we conclude after several years without incident that a blocked exit does not pose a safety risk?"
Sometimes decision making just does not make common sense. Safety features in products and unsafe public places are there for a reason. At some time, someone was injured or killed because safety measures were not in place. Perhaps a law suit was filed that called attention to unsafe products or public places and someone had to pay a large fine or a settlement for not taking care of the danger. Features such as fencing, warning signs, guard rails, caps on medicine bottles, safety latches for cupboards to keep young children away from ingesting dangerous cleaning liquids, etc., railings on stairways, car seat belts and air bags, warnings on products, child safety seats, no smoking in public places, food labels, etc. keep us safer.
Action was taken when, in the incident above, a man lit up a cigarette. We have learned about the dangers of second hand smoke, so we acted. Instead of doing the same with guns, which we know to be dangerous, we allow them in more places where alcohol is served. The answer is not to expand gun carrying to more public places but to have fewer guns in public places. Because we now allow guns in public places, people think they need guns to protect themselves from people with guns in public places. Such flawed logic should not stop the states and our country from making sensible gun laws for the sake of public health and safety.
Welcome to Common Gunsense
I hope this blog will provoke some thoughtful reflection about the issue of guns and gun violence. I am passionate about the issue and would love to change some misperceptions and the culture of gun violence in America by sharing with readers words, photos, videos and clips from articles to promote common sense about gun issues. Many of you will agree with me- some will not. I am only one person but one among many who think it's time to do something about this national problem. The views expressed by me in this blog do not represent any group with which I am associated but are rather my own personal opinions and thoughts.