Tuesday, May 24, 2011

What Part of "Shall Not Be Infringed" Do You Not Understand?

I recently received my North Carolina concealed handgun permit. Ready and authorized to carry a concealed handgun, I am nevertheless flummoxed by those who would seek to deny me a right I am already guaranteed under the Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.

There seem to be more places in North Carolina that one cannot carry than where it is permitted. Schools, banks, Federal and State buildings and offices, plus “public gatherings” are all off-limits. In other words, the places criminals would logically seek out, since there is no one to stop them.

“But, we can’t have people packing guns everywhere! There would be anarchy!” Actually, studies show more crimes are prevented by responsible gun owners than are committed by criminals.

Besides the fact that one should be allowed to arm themselves (again, a right already granted, or, more correctly, not to be infringed upon,) one must be armed to provide a measure of self-defense.

In Castle Rock v. Gonzales, the Supreme Court ruled that citizens do not have a constitutional right to protection by law enforcement, even in the presence of a restraining order. This decision ignited a firestorm of controversy, but the facts in question miss the point.

The point is that if law enforcement (i.e. the government) has no legal obligation to protect you, then you should be allowed to protect yourself.

Please don’t misunderstand. My problem is not with law enforcement, since to require protection of the citizenry would open public safety agencies up to so much litigation as to severely restrict (or outright prevent) them from doing what they are sworn to do. They do an excellent job with the resources they have. Nevertheless, the job of the criminal justice system is justice, not defense. That is the job of the citizens.

My problem is with a government that doesn’t trust me to do the right thing (or to spend my own money either, but I digress;) yet at the same time thinks that criminals care whether a business or public building has a little sticker that tells them they can’t have a weapon on the premises. The very places that prohibit possession of firearms would benefit the most from a responsible, armed citizenry.

For the business owner who prohibits weapons, the concern is liability. My question is, in which lies the greater liability: the discharge of a firearm by a responsible, law-abiding citizen; or a firearm injury inflicted during the commission of a crime by the perpetrator?

Responsible gun owners should boycott businesses that (rightfully) refuse firearm possession. We should also remind our elected officials that, by denying us the right to defend ourselves on public property, that government agency assumes responsibility for our safety. Yes, we usually have a choice whether to enter the building or property, but no one can dispute the fact that such a policy denies the citizen his or her right to self-defense.

The position that criminals should be denied access to guns, while noble on its face, is nevertheless only half the argument. It ignores the need of potential victims to protect themselves and their families. Why are guns always the problem and not part of the solution? The need of the individual is sacrificed for some lofty social goal.

Trust is a two-way street. A government and society that doesn’t trust me to do the right thing does not earn my trust.

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