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“Reasonable” Restrictions

Recently received an email from someone who is in favor of “reasonable” restrictions on the right to buy, own, and carry firearms. The person wanted to know if I would support these restrictions, too, or if I would be as “dogmatic and inflexible” as others in the pro-rights movement have been. Here’s how I answered.

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I’m afraid you would find me on the “dogmatic and inflexible” side of the aisle. Why? Because I believe self defense is a human right — the most basic of all human rights, in fact. This means I am not in favor of any government program that has a chilling effect on an ordinary person’s ability to exercise the basic human right to effective self defense.

Like you, I want safer families and safer communities. Like you, I think it is appalling when bad people use firearms to do bad things. And like you, I want to see lower rates of violent crime and higher rates of good people staying safe. That is why I am a strong supporter of liberal laws in the area of concealed carry, and it’s why I am in favor of laws that improve the ability of ordinary people to protect themselves wherever they go. It’s also why I support the freedom to purchase and own firearms without a lot of bureaucratic tangles. Because I want good people to be safer, I support laws that make it easy for good people to protect themselves from violent crime.

To get an idea how the two factors in the above paragraph might be connected, I suggest visiting two types of sources to do your own research. (Don’t just take my word for it; I might be mistaken or untruthfully biased).

The first type of information you might seek out would be how concealed-carry laws have changed over the past two or three decades. There’s a wonderful visual about that at http://www.gun-nuttery.com/rtc.php, where a little poking around the site will reveal the creator’s data sources so you can judge their quality for yourself. Of course you can find the dry numbers from other places as well, including government sources. You might also look for information that would tell you the number and percentage of gun-owning families in America over the past several decades, and whether there are more guns, more widely available, than there were before. Again, you can get this type of information from pro-gun sources, from anti-gun sources, or from mostly-neutral sources. Although interpretations will differ based on the type of source you use, the hard numbers in all cases will show that there are a lot of guns in circulation and that there has been a huge increase in firearms purchases over the past few years.

The second type of information you might look for would be a record of what violent crime has been doing over the same years. You can find those numbers on the FBI or DOJ websites, including the Uniform Crime Reports (UCRs) from the FBI. As you will discover, violent crime rates have gone down sharply at the same time concealed-carry laws have become more liberal.

Taken together, these two factors — the rise in the number of gun owners with carry permits, and the drop in violent crime — mean that more people carrying firearms in more places has been closely correlated with lower crime and fewer deaths. A short spike in high-profile, negative events does not change this reality.

Like you, I want to see safer communities. Thus, I am not a fan of strict licensing laws or more restrictions on how one may purchase firearms or where one may carry them. This is not because I want guns in the hands of criminals. I don’t. Instead, it is because I do not want bureaucratic bottlenecks through which basic human rights must squeeze.

Do you know that the wait for permission simply to own a firearm takes over one and a half years in some counties in New York state? Do you know that some of the recent proposals to encourage “responsible gun ownership” will cost each gun owner thousands of dollars every year? It is easy to say, “Well, yes, but we should regulate x or control y, without creating bad results like that.” But the reality on the ground says otherwise. All too often, restrictions on gun purchases simply mean that people of the right color and socio-economic class may buy guns, while people outside those categories may not. It happens often that people with good political connections (such as celebrities) may get them, while people without connections have a harder time.

In some areas, ordinary people of the wrong color, people who live in the wrong neighborhood and have the wrong kind of job — well, those folks are out of luck, and cannot legally own effective tools they might use to protect themselves and their families. They are priced out of the concealed carry market by abuses of “may issue” laws, or by the cost and difficulty of meeting the law’s training requirements, or by high bureaucratic fees. A fee that seems reasonable to a middle-class individual often falls far outside the reach of someone below the poverty line. A training requirement that can be easily met by someone with a high-status, 9 to 5 weekday job might be utterly impossible for a single parent working erratic hours at a low-status job. To put it bluntly, I oppose “reasonable” restrictions in this area because every law that increases the regulatory burden on good people, also creates unavoidable racist and classist effects in actual use.

The unfortunate reality is that there is no way to guarantee complete safety in a free society. Crimes will continue to happen, no matter what we do. Violent crime will happen, and sometimes good people will die as a result of that. That stinks. But here’s the kicker: making our society less free is one way to feel safer while reducing our actual safety. When we create laws that make it harder for good people to protect themselves from violent crime, more good people will die as a result of violent crime.

“Reasonable” restrictions on basic human rights often have the effect of making our families and our communities less safe. That is why I oppose all such restrictions.

15 Responses to “Reasonable” Restrictions

  1. CNY DJ says:

    Kathy,

    Very well stated. I only wish all of your writings could be read by those like Biden and Obama and Coumo and the other gun grabbers….. not that they would listen as they seem to have their own agenda and “IT” has nothing at all to do with actual public safety.

    God save us all

  2. kalaryn says:

    I watched this PBS documentary online yesterday, it’s based on school shooting, very interesting actually. But the one stat that I found interesting was that of Chicago. From what they said guns are only legally carried by law enforcement and Chicago has an extremely high crime rate. I think it’s because law abiding citizens aren’t allowed to carry gun legally and mostly criminals and law enforcement are the only ones that are carrying guns.

    If you are interested in seeing the documentary, I posted a link.
    http://video.pbs.org/video/2336640229

  3. If I have a natural right to self-defense, as ruled by the US Supreme Court, then how dare anyone tell me otherwise? And if you don’t believe it’s a natural right, try snuggling with a bear cub sometime (or a cornered cat!!) – Momma Bear will do her best explaining how nature gave her the ability and the right to rearrange your face. I have all the same rights as Momma Bear – they were endowed by our Creator. We can’t take them away any more than we can grant them; they just exist.

  4. RabidAlien says:

    When someone can come up with a “reasonable” way to ensure that criminals have absolutely NO way to get firearms to commit their crimes, then I will reasonably consider giving mine up. Until then, “reasonable” restrictions only apply to the law abiding. Criminals do not follow the laws (thus the “criminal” label), so will not be affected by any new restrictions. I do not support, nor will I ever, any law designed to put an individual into a position where they are at the mercy (of which most criminals are lacking) of a felon. Especially when those who make the laws are either packing for their own protection, or they’re surrounded by guards who are carrying.

    • Wyld_Goose says:

      perfectly said

    • Spider Elliott says:

      Perfect! Thank you.

    • larryarnold says:

      When someone can come up with a “reasonable” way to ensure that criminals have absolutely NO way to get firearms to commit their crimes, then I will reasonably consider giving mine up.
      I agree with most of what you say. OTOH criminals don’t necessarily need firearms to commit mayhem. I’d hold out until they can’t be bigger or younger than I am, or can’t gang up on me.

      As I ask my students, if you’re being attacked by a 6’6″, 300 pound football player who doesn’t have a gun, is he really “unarmed?”

  5. Wyld_Goose says:

    We do not create more restrictions, fees and regulation every time someone get’s in a 2,000 LBS+ weapon that can move upwards of 176 feet per second (120 MPH)and kills people with it. I have yet to see a 3 day cool off waiting period on buying a car, knife, hammer, fertilizer, gasoline or even to take a karate class. We do, instead, take each situation in where one of these things is used in violence on a case by case scenario.

    “We must reject the idea that every time a law’s broken, society is guilty rather than the lawbreaker. It is time to restore the American precept that each individual is accountable for his actions.”
    -Ronald Reagan

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  7. Spider Elliott says:

    Thank you, Kathy, for stating the subject so elloquently. I often fail to realize that their “reasonable” is utterly unreasonable.

    My first reaction was to ask what defines “reasonable.” I would’ve argued that I’d agree, for instance, to a “reasonable” compromise that every prospective gun owner may attend a free firearm competency class, so that the infringement on the second amendment is compensated.

    Yeah, dream on.

    But what I keep forgetting is that their definition of “reasonable” is to go along with whatever they think and want.

  8. Daniel in Brookline says:

    Well stated indeed. Many thanks! (And please do share your friend’s response, if you think it appropriate.)

    In re “reasonable restrictions” — reasonable to whom? The very phrase assumes that there is a standard of “reasonableness” that we can all agree on. but if that were true, we wouldn’t be having this discussion, would we?

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  10. larryarnold says:

    Because “reasonable gun control” sounds an awful lot like “ride in the back of the bus.”

  11. 9mm4545 says:

    All of these “reasonable” restrictions proposed have nothing to do with enhancing public safety and the statistics bear this out. Increasing the power of the state and fostering dependency is the goal and for that gun restrictions work perfectly

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