The gun control advocates are missing a great opportunity to actually improving public safety through a national concealed carry act. This is currently proposed as H.R.38; it just needs a modification to make it a great law.
Currently, each jurisdiction (State, County, City) establishes its standards for issuing a concealed weapons permit. These range from de facto non-issuance places like Los Angeles County to almost unrestricted carry rights as in Maine. What is really needed is a common set of standards for allowing the privilege of carrying a concealed weapon rather than a broad allowance of accepting any permit in any other State. Perhaps common ground may be reached between anti-gun advocates like in the Democratic party and the NRA?
First, the argument for concealed (and open) carry. Numerous studies have shown that concealed permit holders commit gun violations (misdemeanors and felonies) at a level of just one-sixth that of police officers! And just 0.06% that of the general population! Additionally, States that allowed concealed carry had 31 percent lower murder rates and 28 percent lower violent crime rates than the seven jurisdictions with the lowest percent of permit holders! The crime deterrent is clear: a perpetrator avoids committing a violent crime if they think the victim can defend herself or himself.
I’m not arguing for carte blanc issuance of permits. That is just as illogical as highly restrictive or non-issuance. It makes perfect sense to require for issuing and reissuing a permit:
- A clean criminal background check by the FBI and the State of issuance
- A recent mental health evaluation
- Revocation of the permit for any alcohol or drug related convictions and
suspension for any arrests while the case is pending
- A clear annual drug test including use of marijuana, etc.
- Successful passage of a course in firearm safety, self-defense laws,
and a demonstration of safe handling techniques
The exact details should be worked out by experts with the goal to issue permits to people who are most expected to safely handle a concealed firearm. And if the person has a CCW permit, that person should also be allowed to openly carry.
Having Federal standards for issuing a CCW permit assures that the law equally applies to all Americans. And the permit should NOT discriminate on race, religion, gender, etc.
I grew up in an open carry State where it was not uncommon or unusual to see a handgun on the hip at a local diner or even a McDonalds! There was no effect of intimidation – the person was likely a rancher, farmer or hunter – and no one paid much attention other than to sometimes ask the caliber or make of the handgun. Today’s coddled kids and ‘progressive’ adults blindly and needlessly fear firearms. Eliminating guns does not eliminate crime. On the other hand, having a firearm and not knowing how to safely and legally handle it or having a deranged mental condition, or a drug or alcohol abuse problem should be reasons for not allowing concealed or open carry.
A win-win situation would be allowing national CCW’s where standards are enforced to assure that trained, mentally healthy and responsible people are allowed to carry weapons for personal defense.
Walt Watson resides in rural Northern California where one still finds clean air and pure water, devoid of the distractions and crowded rat lifestyle of urban / suburban living and where community is more important than political affiliation.