Wednesday, March 02, 2005

Do you feel safer yet?

Many of the legislators in the Arizona state government scare me, and today's news is a good example of why. Two pieces of gun legislation sailed through the House of Representatives. The first, HB 2666, would allow people to carry concealed weapons, including guns, grenades, rockets, mines, and sawed-off shotguns, into any public place so long as they're only trying to defend themselves.

Current statutes list a series of acts that are a crime. These range from carrying a concealed weapon without a permit and having a deadly weapon on school grounds, to possessing certain "prohibited weapons," which includes bombs, grenades and automatic rifles.

The restrictions do not apply to peace officers, members of the military, correctional officers and anyone specifically authorized under state and federal law to have these weapons.

HB 2666 would add a new exemption: any U.S. citizen "who carries a deadly weapon for personal protection or the protection of others." The exception also extends to those who are protecting "the state" as well as any home - whether or not the person lives there.

So let me get this straight. Anyone can take a gun or, say, a grenade to a school campus to defend themselves. This will somehow make us safer? Somehow, I don't see a Columbine-type scenario being improved by teachers, or God forbid students, being armed and shooting back.

Then there's HB 2325.

[HB 2325] allows anyone who gets a permit to carry a concealed weapon to keep that permission for life. Gone would be the requirement to renew the license every four years, undergo a new background check and attend a firearms refresher course.

HB 2325 also would cut the required hours of initial training to get a permit in half, to eight hours.

So if we take these two bills together, we not only have people allowed to carry concealed guns into places like schools and courthouses, but we're going to make sure they're untrained in how to use them?

My father is a CPA and he has to go through extensive testing to renew his license every few years. This is logical because if he is ignorant of changes in the law, he could easily ruin someone financially. It's common sense. Yet the legislature doesn't want to apply the same common sense to someone wielding a weapon as they do to someone who wields numbers? What's wrong with this picture?

The Senate has its own scary legislation before it.

SB 1363, awaiting Senate debate, would permit guns if the bar or restaurant owner does not post a written notice, and if the patron promises not to imbibe.

Oh my. I can carry a gun into a bar if I promise not to drink? Yeah. That'll work.

All three of these are, of course, supported in the name of the Second Amendment. The intent of that amendment, however, was never to allow for vigilantism. Ratified in 1791, 15 years after the signing of the Declaration of Independence, the Second Amendment states, "A well regulated militia, being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms, shall not be infringed." (emphasis mine) The country had just won a revolution against a totalitarian regime, and they won it with a militia made up of private citizens. In order to ensure this infant government would not itself turn totalitarian, the Founding Fathers wanted to protect the rights of private citizens to fight back against the state. Of course, in an era where the war was won with muskets and bayonets and the closest thing to a WMD was a cannon, they could hardly foresee an age of nuclear and biological weapons, none of which I'm too crazy about being in the hands of the average citizen. Still, the intent was clearly to protect the people from the government, not from messed up kids firing AK-47s on their high school classmates.

None of these laws will help defend the people against the state, and none of them will protect innocent people from criminals. All they will accomplish is to make it more likely that schools, courthouses, bars, or anywhere can become a war zone. Yes, the criminals are already making it so. However, well-intended but untrained people firing back is hardly the solution.


At 1:04 PM, Blogger catholic_girl said...

WTF? I can't even think of anything else to say. I thought my state was crazy (you're allowed to carry guns pretty much anywhere -- restaurants have taken to putting up signs requesting that patrons leave their weapons at home, and there's a crazy group that goes around carrying guns into libraries and rec centers because ... well, pretty much because they can.

I will never understand the gun nuts. For many, many reasons.


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