Restrictions on Concealed Carry Are Dangerous
by Manuel Lora
by Manuel Lora
I recently took an NRA Basic Pistol course to get a refresher on safety, gripping and shooting. During the lunch break, we started talking about concealed carry. Iowa, one of the "states to avoid," is not a shall-issue state, meaning that the local police department or county sheriff can establish their own permit issuing guidelines and restrictions. In these "Trust the Police" states, to be able to exercise this right you have to prove (!) to them that you really need to pack self-defense hardware. They require a justification. The traditional ones might include "carrying large amounts of money" but if you try — oh don't even dare lest you awaken the ire of the government — "because it's my right" or "just in case," your application could be summarily rejected.
As if the above were not enough, these little tyrants want to make it as hard as possible to get a government stamp of approval by imposing the most absurd of requirements: to try turn the average citizen into a bit of a crack shot. In Polk County, Iowa, the Sheriff's Office has declared that to qualify, each student must get a 75% score to pass. The test consists of 48 timed rounds at 5, 9, 15 and 25 yards.
I am not going to say that there are no circumstances where you would need to shoot at someone from 25 yards away; there might be some case where such actions are totally justified. But for the most part, these requirements are ridiculous. As Jeffrey Snyder says,
Permit holders need concern themselves with only one thing: protecting themselves from a sudden, violent assault that threatens life or grievous bodily injury. Rape, robbery, and attempted murder are not typically actions rife with ambiguity or subtlety, requiring special powers of observation, great book-learning, or a stint at the police academy to discern. When a man pulls a knife on a woman and says, "You're coming with me," her judgment that a crime is being committed is not likely to be in error.
Contrast the above with police officers, who carry guns not only for self-defense but supposedly also for the defense of others. Furthermore, police officers are regularly exposed to potentially dangerous situations where more in-depth training makes sense. Training requirements serve no purpose for the general population who just want to thwart an attacker or two at close range. There is also a good deal of evidence that background checks, waiting periods and other such requirements simply do not help reduce crime. On the contrary, by making it harder to obtain these permits, law-abiding citizens are at a higher risk from criminals. And they probably never took a class with the sheriff or applied for any permit.
A good number of states, such as New Hampshire and Indiana, have no training requirements; Alaska and Vermont fully respect the right to carry and no permit is required. People there are allowed to buy and pack. Yet we don't hear of bloodbaths there. Strange isn't it?
Even without resorting to statistical evidence, it should be up to the person carrying the gun to determine whether he is proficient enough to be able to use it successfully. Let's get rid of this useless requirement once and for all. Better yet, let's get rid of all licenses.
January 12, 2006
Manuel Lora [send him mail] is a freelance TV producer and multimedia specialist in New Orleans.
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