Friday, March 24, 2006

Journey Back to the Gunslinging Days of the Wild West

The carrying of concealed guns will now be legal in the state of Kansas after the House and Senate both overrode Governor Sebelius' veto. Though I'm not an anti-gun activist, I tend to be critical of our nation's love affair with firearms. In popular culture, we tend to heavily romanticize firearms, while downplaying the realities involved in their use. Handguns are highly effective, destructive tools designed for the harming and killing of other people - that's their function.

Everything else being equal, the more guns out their on the street, the more likely innocent people will get hurt. But of course, everything else isn't always equal and this is where proponents of conceal/carry laws gain some ground. It is true that criminals will carry handguns on them no matter what the law says (though I think one could make an argument that stricter gun control laws would decrease the percentage of criminals carrying handguns), and as a result there are certain settings (i.e., driving a cab) where carrying a handgun could statistically increase your safety as opposed to decreasing it. And to be fair, the law will provide some restrictions as to where you can and cannot carry concealed guns. However, I think opening up conceal/carry to everyone does not increase everyone's net safety.

I say this because human beings are not always rational creatures, particularly when addicted to drugs or acting in the heat of the moment. Senate sponsor Phil Journey, R-Haysville, was quoted as saying "Many criminals are rational human beings, and when they realize there is a good chance that they could get shot committing a violent crime, they'll probably decide to do something else." For a segment of the criminal population this may indeed be true, but a meth addict wouldn't think twice about whether or not he/she could get shot. In such highly charged situations, the potential for a firefight would increase with the presence of multiple concealed weapons.

And I think this increase in the firefight potential is not just because of the presence of additional handguns, but also because of the what I perceive to be the limited training required to carry a concealed weapon. The required eight hour training course doesn't approach anywhere near the kind of training undertaken by law enforcement, and yet it is suppose to provide the average person on the street the necessary tools to react quickly, efficiently, and rationally in a highly dangerous, adrenaline pumping situation? I think not, and this is where I have the real problem with conceal/carry.

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