Gun Control

The Courts Advance Concealed Guns

In practice, licenses to carry guns in public have allowed law-abiding citizens to take steps they see as essential for their safety, without putting their fellow citizens in danger.

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Concealed weapons
Smallchief / Wikimedia Commons

Gun-control advocates are learning the downside of getting their way. Recently, a federal judge struck down the District of Columbia's ban on the carrying of concealed handguns. Anti-gun forces have been losing in legislatures for a long time. Now they are finding that even where they win, they lose.

Washington used to have the strictest gun laws in America. Besides the prohibition of concealed guns, all firearms had to be registered and handgun ownership was forbidden.

The restrictions had no evident effect on crime: In the 1990s, the nation's capital was known as the murder capital. But they invited a legal challenge—a historic one, as it happened. In 2008, the Supreme Court invalidated the city's handgun ban as a violation of the Second Amendment.

It was the first time the court had recognized that individuals have a constitutional right to own firearms for the purpose of self-defense. It was also a drastic shift in the court's view of the Second Amendment, which for decades had been treated as a forgettable footnote.

No one forgets it anymore. After striking down the law in D.C.—a special case, being under federal jurisdiction—the court overturned a similar ban in Chicago, ruling that the Second Amendment curbs the power of the states to regulate gun ownership.

Prohibiting most guns was no longer permissible. Left unclear was what other regulations were allowed. The court said there is nothing wrong with barring gun sales to felons and the mentally ill or with keeping guns out of schools and government buildings. But beyond that was terra incognita.

In most places, the rights of gun owners have expanded in recent decades. Every state now allows the carrying of guns in public, with the majority granting licenses for carrying concealed guns to anyone who meets certain qualifications. But where that prerogative is denied or greatly restricted, judges have begun to apply the Second Amendment logic to uphold it.

First came a federal appeals court in Chicago, which ruled the state's ban on concealed carry unconstitutional. If Americans have a right to use guns for self-defense, the court found, they logically must be allowed to carry them in public. "To confine the right to be armed to the home," it said, "is to divorce the Second Amendment from the right of self-defense" affirmed by the Supreme Court.

This year, a federal appeals court in San Francisco took a similar stance. "Carrying weapons in public for the lawful purpose of self-defense is a central component of the right to bear arms," it concluded.

At least three other federal courts have declined to reach that conclusion, which means that eventually the Supreme Court will have to settle the matter. A court that has gone this far in giving force to the right to keep and bear arms is not a good bet to stop now.

But gun-control supporters shouldn't take the prospect too hard. Concealed carry is the overwhelming norm already; these rulings have added it in just a few places. Even if the Supreme Court said the Second Amendment doesn't mandate the policy, it would persist almost everywhere.

In any case, it's not something to worry much about. One thing we have learned from the spread of concealed carry is that few people take advantage of it. As of 2011, there were about 8 million people with permits—about 2.5 percent of the population.

And most of them don't pack most of the time. Florida State University criminologist Gary Kleck estimates that the average licensee carries a gun only 138 days per year.

Those who do carry rarely misuse them. There was a recent episode in a Chicago suburb when a 56-year-old man with a permit blasted away at a fleeing armed robbery suspect, forcing a cop to take cover. But that's the exception.

Texas has more than half a million active licensees. In 2011, 120 of them—one out of every 4,325—were convicted of any crime, according to the Texas Department of Public Safety. The state had 699 gun murders in 2011. But only three permit holders were convicted of murder.

In practice, licenses to carry guns in public have allowed law-abiding citizens to take steps they see as essential for their safety, without putting their fellow citizens in danger. It's people who lack licenses you have to fear.

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  1. People should be forced to join together into militias if they want to bear arms.

    1. And Saddle the militias with Conscripts? What good would they be as a fighting force then?

      1. I can’t tell if FoE is tilting at;

        “If you’re going to take up arms, do it right!”

        or

        “If you’re going to take up arms, the government would prefer you get together in a group and stand on this target.”

        Either way, apt.

    2. We’re already in the militia, because as various Founders put it, all the people are the militia.

      In their view, the 2nd Amendment militia are the body of people to whom the task of overthrowing the Government being created by the Constitution would fall, should the need arise.

      In other words, they just witnessed how the free people of the colonies had joined together to fight and overthrow the rule of the King’s government. They realized that any government could become similarly unjust, and that “when, in the course of human events, it becomes necessary” it would fall to the people to rise up and overthrow the very Government being created.

      A free militia, consisting of all the people, properly armed, could stand against the Government and any Army the Government would employ.

      1. In the militia, but no necessarily a well-regulated one. I am for militias, but DEFINITELY not if we are “forced to join together into militias if they want to bear arms”

        That is just tyranny.

    3. Stop playing devil’s douchebag.

      1. For clarification as to whom I was addressing.
        Fist of Etiquette|8.4.14 @ 7:09AM|#

        People should be forced to join together into militias if they want to bear arms.

        Was that snarc?

  2. It’s people who lack licenses you have to fear.

    I think technically, the cops are licensed.

    1. Ted S.|8.4.14 @ 7:09AM|#

      It’s people who lack licenses you have to fear.

      Excellent point. Mine was with the same line but because it was unsupported stupidity.

  3. (RE: Article Image) How good could a Concealed Weapons School be if it has signs pointing it out from three miles away? Isn’t the whole point to avoid being spotted?

    1. Perhaps knowing in advance that a school is armed to the teeth goes a long way to deter would-be-shooters attempting to kill those whom they believe are defenseless kids and their teachers?

    2. I’m happy I live in a state that doesn’t mandate classes before you can exercise your rights.

      1. You’ve got to take the classes in my state. They’re all taught by retired police officers and they are a joke. It’s just an excuse to force people to give money to the cops.

        1. Our state requires classes too – one guy I know who teaches is a lifetime NRA member and an ex-Vietnam vet. I’ve never seen someone so comfortable shooting… it’s like a remote control to him.

          1. KY requires classes, and they’re a joke, unless you have absolutely no fire-arms experience (which is true for a significant part of the population).

        2. Same in my state. I didn’t even have to fire the gun. We were supposed to, but the range was backed up.

          He just made me show him that I knew how to load and unload the gun.

          Joke…

    3. Looks like your joke was a bit too concealed for some.

    4. Obviously they need to watch Monty Python’s primer on How Not To Be Seen.

    5. How good could a Concealed Weapons School be if it has signs pointing it out from three miles away?

      The school is actually six miles in the other direction.

  4. I hope I live to see a proggie meltdown if they force a shall issue standard for all states. Eventually the supremes will have to just set a standard. I know It’s not their job but DC and the Peoples Republic of Chicago will just keep passing bullshit laws every time they get smacked down.

    1. Wait until there are five SC justices who think the 2A doesn’t guarantee an individual right. 🙁

      1. At which point there will be a constitutional amendment clearing up the matter, and the states will ratify it in record time.

    2. The Supremes refused to hear Drake, allowing New Jersey’s de facto ban on carrying firearms to stand in conflict with other circuits.

  5. A well regulated militia being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to ask permission to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed very much.

    1. Reasonable, common sense regulations!!11!!!

      Why do you hate teh childrenz?

  6. In the 1990s, the nation’s capital was known as the murder capital.

    The standard progressive response was that people in D.C. could easily get their guns from Virginia and that a nationwide ban was needed. When I pointed out that tightened gun restrictions in Virginia had had no effect on homicide rates in D.C. and that guns could be smuggled into the country along with the drugs that were already federally banned, I got that all-purpose scathing rebuttal known as “La la la, I can’t hear you.”

    1. I got that all-purpose scathing rebuttal known as “La la la, I can’t hear you.”

      You got buuuuurned!

      1. This sounds funnier when I read it in Kelso’s voice.

  7. One thing we have learned from the spread of concealed carry is that few people take advantage of it. As of 2011, there were about 8 million people with permits?about 2.5 percent of the population.

    I’d phrase it more like this: “One thing we have learned from the spread of government-allowed concealed carry is that few people take advantage of it. feel the need to beg the government to allow them to exercise their rights, including the right to defend oneself against government agents.

    1. This.

      There are plenty that carry concealed w/o permit. The concealed carry permit is just a notice to LEO that they can shoot you and get away with it.

      1. It’s also a means to disarming the public.

    2. Not always applicable because not all states require licenses for concealed (or open) carry. Also, not applicable because some people carry concealed without a license where required. Thus, the expression of one’s right to keep and bear arms is up to the individual.

  8. The Courts Advance Concealed Guns

    Think the Supremes are packin’ under those robes?

    1. Now I can just see one of the justices standiong, pulling a minigun from the black void and mowing down the press gallery.

      1. “The Court *will* be in order!”

    2. According to Anita Hill, Clarence Thomas claims to be packing.

      Is that a pubic hair on your coke, or are you just glad to see me?

      1. +1 Long Dong Silver

  9. Last time around, the evil freedom-hating teabagging Rethuglitards in the Montana Legislature passed a law which basically made concealed carry permits optional. As I understood it, any citizen who satisfied the qualifications (not a violent felon, et c) could carry concealed, and it would be up to the cops to prove (s)he was not lawfully armed. Needless to say, the cops went into full scale bedwetting mode, along with the Mayors Against Legal Guns crowd.

    Enlightened left wing authoritarian Governor Bullock bravely strode forth to stem the onrushing rivers of blood by vetoing it.

  10. Now I can just see one of the justices standiong, pulling a minigun from the black void and mowing down the press gallery everybody at the Solicitor General’s table.

    A man can dream.

  11. Sometimes man you jsut have to roll with it.

    http://www.TotalAnon.tk

  12. Hey, I wanted to get your thoughts. I have a CC permit and when I get pulled over by a pig, I usually show it to them. For some reason, they seem to like that and I usually get a break with whatever they pulled me over for.

    Am I just licking their bootstraps, or am I pulling one over on them?

    1. Back in Virginia (I’m in TX now) we were told by instructors and orgs to do exactly what you do. Whether it’s bootlicking or not, I don’t know. What I do know is that if they are going to run my driver’s license it will show I have a CCL anyway so it’s probably smarter to give them my CCL at the outset. It avoids (hopefully) a bad reaction and, yes, I think the forthrightness puts them at ease. I was only pulled over once when I had my VA CCL and I was let off with a warning. I have no doubt there’s a percentage of cops out there that would get aggressive upon being made aware that they were not the only one in the conversation capable of defending themselves though.

    2. I think there are states that require you disclose to a police officer whether or not you are carrying and whether or not you have a permit. I suggest you check your state’s laws.

      1. Texas is one that requires notification:

        http://www.usacarry.com/texas_…..ation.html

        usacarry has summaries of every state’s laws.

    3. Most cops are in fact not pricks, so when you show them your CCL they recognize you are also unlikely to be a prick (CCL holders have one of the lowest crime rates of any demographic).

      1. In my state, you only have to let them know if you are carrying, ie, it is on you at the time. You don’t even have to let them know if you have something in the car, unless they ask.

        I’ve always told them, and one cop, a woman had a funny reply.

        Me: “I have a CC license and just wanted to let you know”

        Her: “Are you planning on shooting me.”

        Me: “No, haha.”

        Her: “Well, then, what’s the problem.”

        Me: “None”

        Her: “Any other questions?”

        Me: ” Yes, what are you doing later tonight?”

        Did I mention she was hot?

    4. My safety course instructor also suggested we do this as well. I don’t see it as bootlicking. I think it’s just a courtesy that puts them at ease. I dunno if my state (CT) ties my carry permit to anything that a cop can see when pulling me over as no cop has ever asked if I’m carrying. I have a friend who is a cop and i asked him and he says he appreciates it but then told me he will ask the person to turn over the weapon until the encounter is over, but i think he’s a minority in that.

      1. jdfinct|8.4.14 @ 4:45PM|#

        You are full of bad advice. Why would one give up their right to remain silent. Why would one eagerly put themselves at a disadvantage. Yes, officer, only you should be armed. I’m a simple slave. I see cops all the time turning over their weapons. Holy shit.

        No law is valid that requires me in any way to waive any fundamental right in order to exercise any other right.

  13. What still bugs me is States that are only “may issue” and states that don’t accept or allow licensing from another state.

    The argument against the first is simple, it is a right not a permission granted by the government so politicians ought to not be allowed to say who gets them and who doesn’t.

    The argument against the second is trickier, but I don’t believe that one state has the authority to deny any rights to a person simply because they are a resident of another state. Applying this to other constitutional rights is I think a fair analogy, Illinois cannot deprive a Wisconsin resident (in Illinois) of due process or Freedom of speech, so why are they able to deny second amendment rights?

  14. I happen to love looking at this chart, and this one supplements some of the missing recent years.

    Jeez. It’s almost as if would-be thugs perceive less of an incentive to be violent toward a population they know is likelier armed than used to be.

    No amount of wishful thinking, tear shedding, or other emotional appeal–even in the immediate aftermath of a school shooting–is going to change that basic, immutable reality.

  15. On the one hand, I don’t really want to deny people the ability to defend themselves, even though I decided long ago that it was not the way for a spiritual being to behave, and have noticed that many people die defending themselves where they would have lived had they not pulled out a gun to do so. A cousin of mine who was being carjacked met that fate.

    On the other hand, I am about ready to call for a repeal of the Second Amendment, because I don’t feel safe, anymore, with all of these guns around. I don’t care what training and license you have. Even sane people have episodes that you can’t predict, and a gun gives you no time to hide, run, or physically defend yourself.

    1. Sorgfelt|8.4.14 @ 7:58PM|#

      “On the one hand, I don’t really want to deny people the ability to defend themselves, …….On the other hand, I am about ready to call for a repeal of the Second Amendment”
      Liar. More guns increases your safety because if your irrational fear comes true then there would be someone there to act…but obviously not you.

      Does a nice quiet knife give you time to hide.

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