The unintended consequences of carrying concealed weapons
It’s a rather fascinating as well as perplexing society we live in, with our obsession with gun culture. No matter which way one goes on the subject, there is usually little compromise. When it comes to interpreting the Constitution, however, judges seem to rule more favorably for more freedom in gun ownership than for upholding restrictions on it. That is fairly evident in the lack of any forward movement with bans or restrictions after mass shootings — legislators know it’s an uphill battle not only in passing but in upholding new laws. So it came as no surprise when the Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals last month struck down San Diego County Sheriff’s Department’s good cause requirement to obtain a concealed weapon permit, stating it violated the Second Amendment right to bear arms. The good cause requirement made applicants specify why they needed a concealed gun permit. Now it’s just a general reason, such as personal safety or self defense — no further explanation necessary. The ensuing flood of applications for concealed weapon permits at the Ventura County Sheriff’s Department was rather predictable as well.
While the argument over the right to bear arms is ridiculously contentious, the logic in the gun debate is obvious — no matter which way one cuts it, more guns equal more gun violence, no matter who owns them, responsible citizens or ruthless criminals. To further substantiate this point, in a 30-year study — the longest of its kind — titled “The Relationship between Gun Ownership and Firearm Homicide Rates in the United States, 1981–2010,” researcher Michael Siegel of Boston University and two co-authors reported that gun ownership was a significant predictor of firearm homicide rates. This model indicated that for each percentage point increase in gun ownership, the firearm homicide rate increased by 0.9 percent. The study concluded, saying, “Although we could not determine causation, we found that states with higher rates of gun ownership had disproportionately large numbers of deaths from firearm-related homicides.”
While gun activists and the National Rifle Association will argue until they are blue in the face that it’s their right to own as many guns as they want and that they should be able to carry concealed guns without Uncle Sam digging into their business, there is no refuting the fact that guns kill. But what is more curious than ignoring the obvious issue of the danger that guns pose is the need for some to have killing machines on them at all times, for personal safety or self-defense. Have some people become so paranoid that they believe every person poses a possible fatal threat to their own lives? Or is this just some power play, that they know they can protect themselves with instant killing machines at the pop of a trigger? Whatever the case may be, there seems to be little sense in the urgency and demand to carry concealed weapons.
As we move forward with fewer restrictions on gun ownership — and it seems we are more than likely headed that way — we caution against purchasing more guns and especially against more people carrying concealed weapons. While there may be the best of intentions in the case of self-defense, people can be irrational and even the most good-natured person can turn a weapon of self-defense into a tool for violence under the right (or wrong) circumstances. Take for instance, Curtis Reeves, 71, a former Tampa police captain with a praiseworthy career who was arrested in January and is being held without bond for shooting and killing a movie patron over an argument about texting. Reeves had a concealed weapons permit. Further, for those who are willing to take a life for a gold watch or a wallet, a rational person may be hesitant to kill in that situation, and such a responsible gun-carrying citizen may fall prey to a crazy person who has a gun in his or her face. We hope that more freedom in gun ownership doesn’t backfire on well-intentioned innocent citizens.