Common Sense Gun Law Prevails in North Carolina

August 14, 2013

It’s a rare circumstance indeed, but I give Kudos to North Carolina’s state government.  Recently, Governor Pat McCrory signed legislation that allows gun owners with concealed carry permits to take their firearms into restaurants and bars.  Additionally, the measure allows concealed carry on greenways, playgrounds, and other public recreation areas as well as permitting the storing of weapons in locked vehicles on the campuses of public schools and universities.

It should be noted that the legislation provides for a great degree of local control.  Private property is respected by giving bar and restaurant owners the right to forbid guns on their premises.  Municipal governments retain the right to pass ordinances restricting concealed carry on public land.

In light of all of the shooting tragedies in public places in recent years, North Carolina’s new gun law represents a common sense approach to self-defense and crime prevention.  There is no softer target for a deranged assailant than a gun-free zone.  Just knowing that someone in a public place could possess the means to defend themselves and others will deter some criminals from striking.  Those undeterred could find themselves the victim of their own criminal madness.

If only Suzanna Hupp had been permitted, under Texas law, on October 16, 1991, to bring her firearm into a Luby’s Cafeteria in Killeen, Texas.  On that day, while having lunch with her parents, George Hennard crashed his truck into the front of the restaurant and proceeded to gun down 23 people including both of Hupp’s parents.  Hupp, a gun owner, instinctively reached for her .38 revolver, only to realize she had left it locked in her vehicle because Texas had just passed a new law banning concealed carry.  There is no question that if given the opportunity, Hupp would have prevented some of the carnage.

To be sure, there have been many other times when law-abiding gun owners could have saved lives if they were allowed to pack heat in public places.  Conversely, many gun owners have saved lives through the benefit of concealed carry laws and by being at the right place at the right time.  Back in 1995 the Journal of Criminal Law and Criminology at Northwestern University School of Law published a study that indicated that law abiding gun owners use their weapons for defensive purposes as many as 2.5 million times a year.  This calculates to guns being used 60 times more to protect innocent lives than being used in the commission of a crime.  Thus, loosening gun laws would make us safer because it would give responsible gun owners more ability to intervene in crisis situations like Aurora, Colorado, Virginia Tech, and Sandy Hook Elementary.

It’s common sense that gun control laws only disarm law-abiding citizens leaving them vulnerable to the whims of criminals.  Chicago, which has some of the strictest gun laws in the country, continues to experience high rates of gun violence.

Additionally, gun control laws are inhumane.  They leave gun owners like Suzanna Hupp defenseless and helpless to save lives in a crisis.

That is why North Carolina’s new gun law is a common sense approach to self-defense and crime prevention.  It gives responsible gun owners the ability to save lives in a crisis.


A Different Perspective on Guns

January 15, 2013

As someone who has lived in four different countries and traveled to several others over the last eleven years, I can tell you that no people who I have encountered continually demand that their government institutions solve every problem imaginable like Americans do.  From the dangers of electric garage doors to the eradication of bed bugs, there seems to be nothing that Washington isn’t charged with fixing.

Then, there are those horrific incidents of violence perpetrated by a mentally unstable person that sends many Americans into a tizzy and raises their collective voices for Washington to do something urgently.  Cries of, “this can never happen again”, call out for new laws and measures to prevent future tragedies.

And so, we have the latest episode of hysterics over the tragedy that was the Sandy Hook Elementary School killings.

To be sure, whenever any young children lose their lives it is a tragedy.  Whether they are in the classrooms of America’s schools, in cars on America’s streets, or collateral damage from an American drone strike over Pakistan, the loss of the young and innocent hits each of us where we live.

But, in the case of the reaction to the latest tragedy, the last thing Washington should do is pass any new gun control legislation including legislation banning so-called “assault rifles”

A little perspective is needed to understand why.  Less than 400 people a year are killed with rifles of all kinds.  According to FBI numbers from 2005 to 2011, hammers and clubs killed more people than rifles in America.  Logically then, shouldn’t hammers and clubs be banned before rifles?  At the very least, shouldn’t a license be required to own one?  Furthermore, why would anyone but construction contractors need to own sledge hammers? Are they not the hammer equivalent to an assault rifle?  Could you imagine going to Lowes to purchase a hammer and having to undergo a background check and a seven day waiting period?  Yet, this is the conversation our leaders are having about rifles, which again, kill fewer people than hammers and clubs each year.

But there is more.  America has not experienced a direct danger from a foreign adversary since the War of 1812 (One could argue that Pearl Harbor was about the Japanese only wanting to cripple our Pacific fleet to allow Her free rein over the islands of the Pacific Ocean).  Yet we have sent millions of young people into harm’s way to “defend” our freedom and have lost hundreds of thousands doing so.  Were the lives of those young people less worthy than the youth lost at Sandy Hook? – Of course not.  But, our leaders tell us that freedom has costs and the hundreds of thousands of young men and women that gave their lives “defending” our freedom is a large part of that cost.

So, I submit to you that those twenty children who lost their lives at Sandy Hook Elementary are also a part of the cost of defending freedom.  At the end of the day, individuals have a natural right to self-defense.  They have a right to defend themselves against criminals, foreign invaders, and their own government if it becomes tyrannical enough.  Why should law-abiding citizens be asked to unilaterally disarm because a deranged individual used a gun to murder children? It is nonsensical.

Besides, we have tried prohibition before, first with booze in the 1920s and currently with drugs.  It did not prevent people from getting a drink or a joint.  Why would we think it would be different with guns?

Lastly, children die in car accidents, drown in bathtubs, and are poisoned by ingesting prescription drugs all the time.  Does this warrant the banning of these items?  Of course not, because they are vitally important to modern life just like the means to protect oneself is.

Kenn Jacobine teaches internationally and maintains a summer residence in North Carolina

Something Else to Think about with the Killings in Connecticut

December 19, 2012

Senseless killings always sting the worst.  Last week, when news had spread that deranged gunman Adam Lanza opened fire at a Newtown, Connecticut elementary school killing 20 children, horror, shock and then outrage were experienced by untold numbers of Americans.  Those of us in education especially reflected upon how such a vicious act could be perpetrated on the most innocent of innocence?

Of course, within hours of the carnage in Newtown, profiteering politicians were making statements and gearing up to impose new attacks on Second Amendment rights.  New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg on Meet the Press proclaimed that President Obama should make gun control his number one priority for 2013.  Forget about the economy which is slowly and silently slipping into another huge economic downturn.  Then there was California Senator Dianne Feinstein who has promised that she will introduce legislation banning assault weapons on the very first day the Senate is back in session.  Never mind that studies on the same ban in effect between 1994 and 2004 have been inconclusive on whether it reduced violent crime during that time period.

But this piece is not about engaging in the never ending debate over gun rights in our country.  It is about the hypocrisy of Americans who mourn the young victims in Connecticut while totally disregarding the child victims of our government’s war machine overseas.

In the last seven years, first the Bush and then the Obama Administration, has conducted a lethal undeclared drone war over the skies of Pakistan near the Afghanistan border.  Its purpose is to seek and destroy al Qaeda targets in the now open ended War on Terror.  However, those same American drones have killed at least 168 children in the raids including 69 in a single attack in Madrassah in 2006.   Where is the horror, shock, and outrage over these deaths?

Beyond the innocent children killed, the drone war has disrupted the family lives of many other kids in Pakistan.  Strikes that have killed one or both parents have left many kids orphaned and unable to provide for themselves.  Many parents have stopped sending their children to school for fear they will end up at the wrong place at the wrong time and because there are reports that American drone strikes have damaged or destroyed local schools.  Then there are the mental effects of the constant aerial assault.  In a poor country like Pakistan, with virtually no psychological resources families are left to themselves to cope with loss and the traumatic stress of always living in danger of being blown up.

Now, we are told that these attacks on civilian populations are necessary to kill the bad guys and keep us safe.  Have we gotten to the point in America where only “us” count? Are our children’s lives more important than others?  Americans claim the moral high ground in world affairs yet ignore the atrocities committed by our government in the name of national security.

Yes, we are dismayed and outraged that 20 innocent children were taken from their parents last week in Newtown, Connecticut.  And we have a right to be.  But, let’s not forget that on the other side of the world Pakistani parents are suffering because they too have lost children to senseless violence – senseless violence at the hands of our government.

So while we mourn the tragic end of young lives, let’s rededicate ourselves to peaceful coexistence.  We could provide no greater memorial to the 20 innocent children lost in Connecticut than to pressure the Congress and the President to stop at once the drone war over Pakistan and other countries.  We owe it to parents in those countries.  We owe it to ourselves.

Article first published as Thoughts About the Connecticut Killings on Blogcritics.

Some Sensible Gun Laws for a Change

February 26, 2011

Hooray for the western states!  Many of them are in the process of enacting long overdue and sensible gun laws.  Perhaps spurred on by the unstable times we live in or just a sense that people should have the ability to defend themselves, states from Wyoming to Arizona are about to pass laws which will allow gun owners to carry their firearms on college campuses and carry concealed weapons without a permit.

In light of the Tucson shooting in which Jared Lee Loughner shot and wounded thirteen people, including U.S. Representative Gabby Giffords, and killed six others, these laws are just common sense.  After all, one of the individuals that apprehended Loughner and terminated his shooting rampage was Joseph Zamudio who himself was carrying a 9mm semi-automatic pistol at the time of the attack.  According to Zamudio, when he heard the shots outside the Safeway supermarket he immediately rushed to the scene to help.  While most bystanders would have hit the deck or run in the opposite direction, he claims his carrying a gun emboldened him to act.  This episode makes one wonder how many lives could have been saved if Virginia Tech students had been allowed to carry firearms on campus in  April 2007 when Seung-Hui massacred 32 of them?

Of course, stories of armed private citizens saving life and property happen all the time.  Back in 1995 the Journal of Criminal Law and Criminology at Northwestern University School of Law published a study that indicated that law abiding gun owners use their weapons for defensive purposes as many as 2.5 million times a year.  This calculates to guns being used 60 times more to protect innocent lives than being used to shoot in the commission of a crime.  Thus, loosening gun laws will only make us safer because they will give responsible gun owners more of an ability to intervene in crisis situations like the Tucson and Virginia Tech Massacres.

Of course, one of the criticisms of the anti-gun movement is that we would be less safe if everybody in society carried a gun.  But, that is not what these laws would do.  People and private property owners should and would have choice in the matter.  Nothing would force an individual to carry against their will or a private entity to allow firearms on their premises.  Most folks who own guns understand the enormous responsibility that comes with it.  Our hero Joseph Zamudio was empowered by his gun to act, but he didn’t shoot it off wildly and endanger others.  As a matter of fact, he ran into the face of self-sacrifice and didn’t fire a shot.  Zamudio is indicative of most gun owners – they are ready and willing to help in time of emergency while maintaining the utmost care for public safety.

At the end of the day, government cannot be everywhere to protect us against bad guys.  U.S. citizens have a natural right to self defense.  In light of the violence from Mexico’s failed drug war spilling over our borders, the loosening of laws to carry a concealed weapon in America is indispensable to our self-defense.  Additionally, as the Founding Fathers knew well, the best defense against tyrannical government is an armed citizenry.  This is a lesson all too many people around the world know well.