The Second Amendment, the right to bear arms, is one of those “issues” where people on both sides believe they are right, as well as misunderstood. In case you have forgotten, it provides: “A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the People to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.”
In my recent interview with John Monroe of Georgia Carry.org, he explains the confusing and restrictive nature of Georgia’s gun laws. In this interview, Alice Johnson, Founder of Georgians for Gun Safety, makes it clear, her organization is not against the Second Amendment, but does have legitimate concerns about the new Georgia law, HB 89, that allows people to carry concealed weapons into restaurants, public parks and onto public transportation.
I may be wrong, but as I understand the threshhold issue, defenders of the Second Amendment believe that if the right to own a gun is a constitutional right, then just about any infringement or regulation of that right is unconstitutional. There is some degree of logic to that argument, but it certainly flies in the face of common sense. Common sense tells me that guns are dangerous. Experience tells me that there are a lot of crazy, nutty people out there. Logic tells me that I don’t want some people to have a gun, constitutional right or not. I don’t feel the same way about any of the other rights bestowed by the “Bill of Rights.” I want people to have the absolute most freedom of the press and freedom of religion that there can possibly be. Same for freedom from searches by law enforcement. Take a double portion, please.
As Alice points out, it makes little sense that the people that use a gun everyday as part of their job, law enforcement, are required to undergo a significant degree of training in the handling of a gun, BEFORE they use it. And yet, in Georgia, unless you are disqualified from buying a gun (felony conviction, etc.), once you own it there is no requirement that you undergo any training before you get a permit to carry it as a concealed weapon. The reason this makes no sense to me is this: Assuming that the only reason for carrying a concealed weapon is personal safety, isn’t some degree of training essential to that safety, if not for you, then at least for me? Is your carrying a gun supposed to make me (everyone else that is around you) less safe?
Alice gives a lot of reasons why the new Georgia law (as well as others) doesn’t do anything to balance gun ownership with gun responsibility. The one that really makes you think is the fact that under the new Georgia law, law enforcement has no input into the decision as to whether or not any particular individual should or should not get a permit to carry a concealed weapon. I am sure we all know people who may have never been convicted of a felony, but who are constantly in trouble with the law for this or that, or who are just mean, short-tempered, hot-headed and maybe even nuts. The fact there are such people certainly should not prevent me from owning a gun, but that doesn’t mean they should own one, much less have a permit to carry it concealed.
If you know such people, think what law enforcement knows, who they know, who is always involved in domestic violence, who is a trouble maker, who has no business carrying a gun. And yet, the Georgia legislature (which would certainly seem to be pro-law enforcement generally) has completly castrated law enforcement in this instance. In doing so, they have endangered all our lives.
Without a doubt, giving law enforcement power over who can carry a gun has the potential for abuse. Without a doubt there is a mechanism by which that abuse can be lessened: the courts. But my point is simply that it defies reason to make the knowledge and information of local law enforcement irrelevant to the determination of who should have a permit to carry a concealed weapon.
Now, this does not mean that once the new law goes into effect on July 1, 2008 there is going to be a rash of shootings involving people carrying concealed weapons into public parks, restaurants, and onto public transportation. Probably won’t be. But, I think it can be said without a doubt that someone will get a permit to carry a concealed weapon who shouldn’t, someone that local law enforcement would know should not have a concealed weapon (maybe any weapon). And, I am equally certain that at some unknown time in the future such a person will misuse the gun they never should have had. There will be at least one killing, one life taken.
I don’t know whether it will be you, but I doubt it will be me. We never think it will be us. We always think it will be someone else. I guess it will be you! And when that death occurs, the spouse, the children of the innocent victim won’t be able to sue Tim Bearden, (R-68) the legislator (and member of Georgia Carry) who sponsored the bill or anyone associated with the passage of this legislation. They won’t be able to do anything about the fact that by simply giving law enforcement input into the process might have prevented their personal tragedy.
But maybe, a few unnecessary deaths will get the law changed. I just hope it ain’t mine.