Monday, June 16, 2014

Imminent Public Threat: Open Carry Versus Public Safety, Part 1

Apparently as many as 45 states have now passed open carry legislation, which is remarkable.  That means that more states approve of individuals openly carrying weapons made for killing than there are that approve of same sex persons getting married (only 19 states).  Alas, the ridiculousness of open carry does not need comparison to be made apparent.

Why should Open Carry (or OC, as its apologists like to put it) be promoted? What are the reasons for it?

1) The Second Amendment protects the rights to keep and bear arms. This is the elephant in the room.  Not only does the 2ndA allow for this, but there is considerable state legislation protecting these rights.

So just to be clear, this is a pretty considerable argument for the gun promoters. 

But that does not mean it is a clear and unquestionable amendment. In fact, it is apparently so questionable that numerous states have had to pass legislation to clarify and specify this amendment. And more to the point, 45 states have deemed it necessary to specifically protect OC rights, as I said above.  

Just to be clear then, there is nothing in the 2ndA as legislation that specifically protects OC, such that further legislation was not necessary.

So that is considerable legislative basis, but how does it fare in the court of reason?  By this what I mean is that we need to separate different kinds of reasons.  The former is a reason based on conventional law.  But those things change continually and really only reflect the powers of legislative forces.  They do not reflect simple rational reflection.

2) Carrying a weapon openly allows one to protect oneself in public places.  

But why must she carry openly to protect herself.  In fact, her advantage in carrying openly is frightening potential criminals away, right?

Perhaps, imagining that all criminals carefully select the most vulnerable unarmed individuals.  But that right comes at the cost of the right to security of others who also occupy public spaces.  It is not merely that someone is carrying at home, but OC specifically protects someone's right to carry in a public place.  

So what we have here then is a case in which the right of one individual needs to be weighed against the rights of other individuals. 

If I met this asshole on the street in Florida, I'd have
to run, because he can get away with murder (if I
was black and wearing a hoodie). 
Both the OCer and the NCer (non-carrier) are protected by the police from criminals, some fictional third party that is somehow excluded from these categories.  But the NCer also needs to be protected from the OCer as well.  The reason for this is that the OCer is carrying a weapon that has no purpose but to kill, and the NCer has no way to know that the OCer has been trained and licensed (no one has to show their carry license to anyone other than a police officer).

Thus, just as an NCer doesn't walk in a highway, for the sake of safety, no NCer should remain in a space where there is an OCer (which might well be called the George Zimmerman rule).  

Conclusion: the OCer has perhaps made herself safer (or merely given herself the false sense of security, since there are numerous examples of "good guys with guns" not able to protect themselves from "bad guys with guns"), but she has forced any reasonable NCer to leave and insodoing, restricted the First Amendment rights of NCers and even other OCers. 

In fact, one could see the OCer as an example of the violation of prior restraint (this connection brought to you by responsible gun celebrist Walter Sobjchek).

This is only part 1.  I'll consider more in another post.


  1. I'll take you up, briefly. Be specific: What regulations would you propose?. Keep in mind that firearms are already more regulated than nearly any other product.

    We'll see what you propose.

  2. Prohibiting OC, altogether. It's a public nuisance.

    Is it really true that they are more regulated than say automobiles? I find that incredibly hard to believe. Or pharmaceuticals?

  3. First, yes, firearms are more regulated than perhaps any other product. Can you think of any other product that requires a federal background check to purchase? That the conviction of a misdemeanor (a particular misdemeanor) bars you for LIFE from purchasing? I can't.

    Think carefully about the "cars v. guns" argument. You don't need a license to own a car, or any number of cars. You only need a license to drive it on public roads. The license is easily obtained, and you have a due process right it in - it cannot be arbitrarily taken from you. And it's good in all 50 states. And that license permits you to drive a Ford, or a Ferrarri..

    Really want to regulate guns like cars? Cause frankly that'd be an improvement for the gun owners. Every time I hear that argument it's clear that those who make it have not thought it through at all. That's frankly typical, however - if gun banners thought their positions through logically, they wouldn't be gun banners.

    Now - as to open carry. If I walk into a restaurant and sit down with my 1911 on my hip (something I do regularly) just how are you, or anyone else, harmed? I'm polite; I won't cut into the lines, I'll take reasonable portions and not hog the good stuff, etc. My behavior is impeccable. If it's not, ask me to leave. All of this has to do with my behavior, not any inanimate object.

    How does any of that change if I have a pistol in a holster? 2/3 or more of the persons there, even if they notice, will assume I'm a cop (I'm not, but I can tell you law enforcement overwhelmingly supports carry). Please tell me: just how are you, or anyone else, harmed in the least?

    You're not. So why do you wish to bar me from a practice that has no downside for you or anyone else, and may have a tremendous upside (I hope not, of course, but you never know).

    Don't tell me it's because the gun Is scary. You've got to be rational here, niccolo. And "it's scary" isn't rational.

    You've waded into a field with persons who know their stuff; they have to, as they have to deal with idiots who don't know what they're talking about seeking to regulate a constitutionally protected right out of existence (google "shoulder thing that goes up"). And you've waded in without your ducks in a row, ignorant of the existing law and fundamental facts. You then proceeded to insult them with nonsense like "racist" accusations. You spout "common sense" language - a code for gun banning, not common sense.

    The fact of the matter is, defensive gun uses, even by the most conservative estimates, save far more lives than criminal use takes, and in most cases without firing a shot. They don't show up on police reports, or make the news. But they happen. Google Gary Kleck, for a start. And remember that if you got your vaunted gun ban, you only ban guns by those who obey the law, and leave those who do so defenseless in the face of those who would flout any law.

    I carry, niccolo, because I care about my life, and the life of my family. I may never need my weapon; statistically, I'm unlikely to ever fire a round in anger. I hope I never have to. But that firearm is like a fire extinguisher - if I need it, I need it really badly, and I need it right now. Until that moment, it just sits and waits.

    Finally, answer this question for me, niccolo: Have you ever fired a weapon? I don't know where you live, but I'd invite you to my place for a training and shooting session. I've yet to have anyone leave the range without a smile on their face . . . .

  4. They are not more regulated than pharmaceuticals and I would argue cars, although I expect we would have to argue about the latter for a while, agree on some points of definition, etc.

    As I said elsewhere, the problem with making claims about guns saving lives as well as guns costing lives, is that both are based on counterfactuals. That is, things that have not happened but could have. Thus, they are not measurable in the ways that things that have happened are (although even these have lots of problems in consideration).

    I have fired a weapons. I've fired a bunch of different pistols including a Glock of some sort, a .22 target pistol, a six shooter, as well as rifles, a shotgun or two. It was interesting, I'd agree, for sure. But I would hate to have a gun in my home. And I'm anxious when visiting relatives that do (my father has at least 5 guns, has done some bullet loading, if that's the term, and my stepfather is a farmer that hunts regularly, and my grandfather was a big, big hunter--had a mounted mountain lion in the rafter about his living room, among a score of deerheads).


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