We gun enthusiasts hang out with other gun enthusiasts. Moreso than other segments of the population. So we run into all kinds of gun owners. Most of the gun folks are good people and come in all shapes and sizes. Exercising their rights safely and responsibly.
However, we all know that one guy. Maybe more than one. Some knucklehead that is a gun owner and is so irresponsible that you wouldn’t trust them with a slinghot that had a broken elastic within 1 mile of you. He’s not a criminal (or hasn’t been caught) and hasn’t hurt anyone with his negligence yet, but it’s just a matter of time. He can buy as many guns as his wallet will allow, but rarely hits paper at the range. He thinks nothing of drinking and shooting. (For those that are confused, it goes like this: Shooting THEN drinking. And never the twain shall mix. Same reason you don’t store sodium in your shower stall with the leaky faucet. Oh, and drinking AND shooting is criminal most everywhere.)
It is guys like him (and it is usually guys) that give the whole gun culture a bad name. Anti-civil-rights people use the type (thankfully, there aren’t too many of them) to beat us over the head politically.
These types are a nightmare to us. It tempts staunch gun proponents to holler for gun rights, “Except for that guy. Take all his away and never let him touch another again. CERTAINLY don’t give him a CCW permit. He’d probably be end up hurting himself or other with sheer negligence.”
Which is why most of us accept the whole concept of shall-issue permitting regimes.
It does leave a bad taste in the mouth. ‘Permit’ is root for ‘Permission.’ As in, “you need permission to exercise your natural individual right.” I don’t need government permission to put my thoughts on this blog. Me and the local Newspaper don’t need gov’t permission to publish my letter to the editor. I don’t need a piece of paper to allow me to convert to Buddism. I don’t have to apply for some special ordinance to go to court to fight an automobile moving-violation.
I want a reasonable standard in law, not beholden to the judgment of individuals. We live in a nation with the rule of law, not rule of man. To have to rely on the judgment of a bureaucrat to determining whether I am worthy of such a privilege as exercising my right is abhorrent, and what we have to endure in Maryland. We have a standard in this state, but that stand includes a high bar and a JUSTIFICATION requirement. My justification is I want to be able to defend myself if attacked, as is my right. And the justification bar is set too high here.
But. THAT guy… That irresponsible, mall-ninja, Operator wannabe with a warped sense of self, cavalier attitude, and ignorance of basic operation of his weapons fellow. He has every right. If he meets the standards he can own and even carry around town in most places. (and the antis paint most ALL gun owners with the same color brush. Jeff Cooper, Tam, Todd Jarret, Sarah Palin, are the same as that Yahoo to the Bradys.)
So what to do? I have no real idea. It’s hard to discourage such types in our own ranks. Certainly prosecute him to the full extent of the law if steps out of line and unjustifiably hurts someone, yes. Certainly we can shun him. Shame might not change him, but it may discourage others from becoming like him. We can do this NOW. Don’t encourage gun idjits. Do encourage responsible behavior. Get training yourself. Think about the weighty responsibility you have as a citizen and act accordingly.
All this is why I sort of support the shall-issue CCW permit regime. Just for the training requirements. It won’t alleviate the burden irresponsible yahoos have on all of us, but it may help.
Perhaps it’s a marketing problem. Instead of calling for a permit, call the whole thing a “Safety Certification” which could include a proficiency test. We couldn’t let the certification requirements get too onerous and impossible to pass. That’s one way gun confiscators could get a backdoor ban. 1000 hours of classes is a bit much, but not out of the realm of something they’d try to impose. And they could extend the certification as a requirement to mere ownership. Or try to. The training should be as stringent as police training with firearms. Less so, as we are not training in the same levels of use of force because, unlike the cops, we aren’t required to endure the same level of close long term interaction with bad actors. Our use-of-force equation is much simpler.
It’s still a reprehensible Permit for a Right, but it doesn’t concede that we NEED a permit at least.
And responsible gun owners seek out training, or train themselves, and already try to cultivate the proper mental self-discipline over a lifetime.
Lack of a Safety Cert could impact insurance levels, and the capitalist financial incentives take the State our of the equation a bit.
We are not going to be a nation of Vermonts anytime soon, where just meeting the bar of legally purchasing a firearm is fine for carrying, and no further gov’t chits are needed. It’d be nice, though, if we were a nation of Tennessees or Ohios. If the nation had the same CCW policies as Ohio I’d be very happy. Our rights would be much better and permanently secured. We could argue and clamor over machineguns after, but with our rights more secure it takes a lot of wind out of the arguments sails. Political squabbling over guns could one day reach the level we currently have over a reintroduction of alcohol prohibition or slavery abolition. There are still people calling for banning booze, and slavery exists around the world and is still evil, but neither is very widespread and high up in priority on current party platforms. MADD and Coors doesn’t have the pull of the Bradys and the NRA.
Update: Click this link. Read it.
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