Gun law raises safety questionsPublished 12:07am Friday, July 19, 2013
The current hysteria surrounding the Mississippi Open Carry Law raises one salient question. Who would you rather have carrying firearms in public, the responsible, law-abiding citizen advertising his lawful carry by wearing the firearm openly, or those who carry concealed for criminal purposes? Some will readily answer, “Neither,” to this question, but the fact remains some among us carry concealed weapons illegally, either out of disregard for the law, or for exploitation of the unarmed. The Democrat has covered numerous stories in the past several years involving the unlawful carry and use of firearms in criminal acts, some ending in the death of the victims. It concerns me greatly that even teenage high school students with access to firearms fall into this category. As the saying goes, “Better the devil you know, than the one you don’t.”
Some, however, believe the more responsible citizens who carry, concealed or openly, the more it serves as deterrent crime. They realize the writers of the Constitution provided the Second Amendment guarantees not only for us to enjoy the past-time of hunting and a guard against tyranny, but also to ensure the ability of citizens to protect themselves and their loved ones. One never knows when or where a deadly encounter might take place, and depending for protection on the response time of law enforcement, which you may not have time to notify, is foolish.
While I don’t mind restrictions on carrying firearms in municipal buildings, where security is enforced by police or sheriff’s department personnel, I don’t understand the need for banning firearms in other public locations such as parks, stores, etc. Do we not foster a culture that values trust and assumes others are acting responsibly unless proven otherwise? Certainly those who would carry firearms openly realize the weight of the responsibility they are taking on. Those with evil intent, however, are more likely to carry concealed than openly, because they don’t want to draw attention to themselves or their plans. Their reputations have already made the law enforcement community watchful.
We should learn from the tragedies in Aurora and elsewhere the fallacy of the “gun-free zone,” which only serves to guarantee unarmed victims for the criminal. The number of dead and injured in these instances is because there was no one present allowed to provide an armed response. The news media rarely reports the times when a firearm is used to prevent a crime, even though this happens multiple times a day across this country. Most likely this is due to the fact that loss of life is prevented. I respect the right of those who choose to carry openly and recognize the inherent benefit to society they represent.
Unless establishments that enact bans are willing to supply the armed security necessary to ensure the safety of their customers, they should be held liable for preventing patrons from protecting themselves. If they block me from taking this common sense precaution, I will simply quit patronizing them. Initially there might be a flood of open carry in support of Second Amendment rights, but eventually this will surely subside and typically be the sportsman on the way to some firearms related activity stopping at a local store who doesn’t want to leave his sidearm in the car.
Personally, I have chosen to go through the effort and expense of obtaining a concealed carry permit and the advanced instruction necessary to enable me to carry almost everywhere I go. I take the responsibility seriously and do everything necessary to be safe and proficient in the use of my firearm. I also take seriously the Biblical mandate to care for and protect those God has entrusted to me. I refuse to allow myself or those in my presence to become victims without taking appropriate response. Those who would, out of fear, or worse, for political advantage, ban me or others from carrying openly are shortsighted in the extreme and the “safety” thus gained is an illusion.
David C. Baity is a Natchez resident.