Friday, September 12, 2003

Concealed Weapons: How The West Was Won?

The Constitution does not stipulate that citizens shall have the right to conceal thy musket under thy cloak. The only purpose of a concealed weapon is for its potential use against another human being. There is no other reason. It is not for use in hunting or defending against an invading force, other than in personal survival against a potential personal threat. Violence begets violence, and it is wrong to think concealed weapons are the answer to today’s problems. There has and probably always will be violence in the world, but having the means to perpetuate such violence does nothing to end it.

An immediate concern is that people violate the law all the time. Despite the penalties, who is to say that all applicants will abide by the rule of law? After all, even the most law-abiding citizen can be proved to violate the posted speed limit now and then. Although one must pass safety training and a background check, a good lawyer and duped psychiatrist could put a concealed weapon permit in the hands of a disturbed violator who has no record; equally, any normal person, without any history of violations or mental illness, could crack under the right circumstances. The potential to seek vengeance on the rude driver who cut you off beyond rude gestures and tailgating would be made possible with a permit to carry a gun in one’s automobile. As cliché as it sounds, any concealed weapons law institutes a time bomb waiting for the right catalyst to set it off.

Advocates say that reasonable people will not act in such a way. Of course, reasonable people do not need to carry guns – they rely on law enforcement to carry out their sworn duty. The argument is that violent crimes like carjacking, mugging and rape can be abated if potential victims could properly defend themselves with a weapon. In such an instance, predators will be wary of any potential targets if they are believed to be packing heat. However, none of the states that already have such laws has seen a dramatic decrease in violent crimes to warrant them. It only has increased the workload of already overtaxed medical and law enforcement agents, who must deal with the effects of such legislation – accidental shootings, crimes of opportunity, etc. – on top of the crimes it fails to prevent.

While the intent of concealment laws is a noble idea, it is irresponsible and misguided thinking that borders on vigilantism. People will be prone to take matters into their own hands, and we will step back two centuries into a world of lawlessness. Everybody and anyone will be a potential target to those possessing a concealed weapon, whether threatened or not. Regrettably, an inhuman, hostile future will unfold from the barrels of guns hidden away in the coat pockets and handbags of ordinary citizens. But we will be safe, if only an illusion.

©2003 Steve Sagarra