Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Another Hysterical "Gun Owner"

Bill (Yosemite Sam) recently discussed gun owners who aren’t supporters of gun rights, only their version of it. This morning the New York Times gives Bill more ammunition. Their pastoral editorialist, Verlyn Klinkenborg, attacks concealed carry in Minnesota and the NRA in a hysterical editorial.

Let’s highlight some of the more egregious statements, but there’s more of them in his article if you care to read it:

He says, “…a year ago the State Legislature passed a ‘concealed carry’ law, which means that it’s legal to carry a concealed weapon if you have a permit.” And, “I asked one of the state coalitions opposed to these laws whether it would attack them in the Legislature this year. The answer was no. It is too busy trying to defeat a ‘shoot first’ bill, which would give gun owners the right to fire away instead of trying to avoid a confrontation.”

In other words concealed carry in Minnesota is a done deal and now anti-gunnies are fighting the Castle Doctrine. (Later he describes Florida’s Castle Doctrine as the “Shoot the Avon Lady” law.) There’s more than a little hysteria in his statement that such a law would allow gun owners to fire away. In his willful ignorance, he doesn’t state that you can’t shoot someone unless that person is a valid threat. It just means you don’t have to try to run.

He then states that, “There are some other twists to these laws. A person carrying a concealed weapon cannot be banned from a public building, even if it’s a library full of kids.” We all know that a law-abiding person won’t shoot up a library full of kids or septuagenarians for that matter, but he equates us with criminals who might. Mentioning kids adds more emotion and more hysteria.

He’s dismayed that such a law could be passed in Minnesota, which he describes as a “socially progressive state.” He explains that he’s from Iowa and Iowans like, “…Minnesotans were gun owners because they hunted pheasants and rabbits and deer. But then I’m thinking of a time when the leadership of the National Rifle Association resembled a band of merry sportsmen and not the paranoid cabal it is today.”

Now, he get’s to the obligatory statement that he grew up with guns: “I grew up hunting and shooting, and I still own two rifles (a .22 and a .270) and two shotguns (a 20-gauge and a 12-gauge, to be specific).” He states that we’ve regressed as a society because we allow CCW and that, “The N.R.A. would argue that society has changed since those innocent days.”

He doesn’t understand the history of carrying guns in America. Permits were available to almost any white man who wanted one. In fact, “may issue” permits were a way to keep guns out of the hands of “undesirable Persons” such as blacks and Jews. Permitless carry in a glove box or even coat pocket was rarely prosecuted if you were white and at least middle class.

He supports such a system and states that we’re not responsible enough to take care of ourselves: “Every concealed weapon, with very few exceptions, is a blow against the public safety. The new gun laws in Minnesota take away local discretion over concealed-weapon permits, and they cost the local authorities plenty too.”

Talk about hysteria: “…a blow against public safety” indeed. I have a CCW permit and I’ve never harmed public safety and I believe I’ve helped it. Discretion in issuing CCW permits allows a corrupt or racist police chief to issue permits to people he finds desirable instead of issuing them fairly based on subjective standards.

We get to the meat of Klinkenborg's concerns, “…, the law strips the public of its right to occupy public spaces without the threat of being shot. The police are trained to handle guns. The criminals know they’re not supposed to have them but find them easy to get, thanks to the N.R.A. Let them fight it out. No one is safer if gun-carrying civilians believe their rights entitle them to pretend they’re cops.”

We who carry a gun sometimes (or all the time) know we’re not cops. We’re not out to do their difficult jobs. We only want protection should we find ourselves in a dangerous situation and the nearest cop is too far away to help. I don’t think I’m a fireman just because I keep a fire extinguisher in my kitchen.

Finally, he shows his true colors as a collectivist who would deny individual rights, “Sometimes I think the N.R.A. isn’t really about guns at all. It’s about making certain that the public — our political and civil society, in other words — has no ability to limit the rights of an individual.”

We have to live in society and some laws are necessary, but they must be based on harm to an individual or property not on dangers perceived by people who feel threatened that good people might carry guns.

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