Barack Obama: "I Am Not In Favor Of Concealed Weapons"

Would you feel safer having more loaded and concealed guns being carried in the public places you and your family visit?

The issue has been in the news recently, including editorials in the New York Times last Friday and the Washington Post today.

On the one hand, the gun lobby wants to force concealed weapons (unconnected to law enforcement) into nearly every place you can imagine, including National Parks, college campuses, airports, even churches.

On the other hand, most Americans probably agree with the statement President Obama made on concealed weapons during his campaign:

I am not in favor of concealed weapons. I think that creates a potential atmosphere where more innocent people could (get shot during) altercations.

Gun advocates - including many who comment on this blog - repeat the mantra that gun owners with concealed carry permits are all "law-abiding citizens," and that the public can trust all permit-holders to be responsible no matter where they insist on carrying their loaded semi-automatic pistols.

In the comments to my post last week, for example, someone pointed to a Tennessee concealed carry permit-holder recently charged with murder. In a response characteristic of many gun advocates, another commenter replied, "After years, you got one. When you get to thousands ... let me know."

Yet examples of criminals and other dangerous people with concealed carry permits are not hard to find. A new report seems to pop up every week, and the incidents that find their way into newspapers very likely under-represent the phenomenon. Indeed, one of the agenda items for the gun pushers is keeping information on who have these permits private, thus making it less likely that the public will know whether permit-holders are contributing to the violence.

The fact is that too many gun owners with concealed carry permits are not law-abiding citizens, while some permit-holders are so incompetent they shouldn't be allowed near a firearm in the first place, whether they've committed a crime or not. Just having a permit isn't reason enough to force loaded, concealed handguns into churches, airports, colleges, National Parks, and other places that Americans want to keep protected from gun violence.

Here is a look at just a few examples of dangerous or careless holders of concealed carry permits reported since last June:
  • In Texas, a college-age permit-holder was charged with aggravated assault with a deadly weapon after an altercation at a child's soccer game; permit-holder and country singer Billy Joe Shaver was indicted for aggravated assault with a deadly weapon and unlawfully carrying a handgun connected with a shooting outside a bar; permit-holder and talk-show host Russ Martin was charged with beating his fiancee and brandishing a handgun; another permit-holder shot himself in the groin. This is eight years after the Los Angeles Times reported that Texas had "licensed hundreds of people with prior criminal convictions - including rape and armed robbery - and histories of violence, psychological disorders and drug or alcohol problems."
The list goes on. Again, since last June:
  • An Alabama school teacher and permit-holder was charged with marijuana possession and selling counterfeit merchandise;
  • In Colorado, a man who apparently held permits in both Colorado and Utah was arrested while being armed and intoxicated on the grounds of a high school.
  • A college-aged Connecticut permit-holder was charged with breach of the peace and reckless endangerment after allegedly brandishing his handgun at a mall.
  • In Kentucky, a permit-holder was charged in the murder of his wife. According to the report, before she was shot and killed, "she said police told her William Seidl [her husband] had a permit for the gun, so there was nothing she could do."
  • In North Carolina, a permit-holder was charged in a double murder; a licensed firearms instructor was just arrested for selling firearms safety certificates required to get concealed carry permits, and was charged with solicitation of another to commit a felony. According to the report, "Deputies said they had not yet been able to determine how many of Smith's certificates were authentic and how many were fake."
...

To be clear, this shouldn't be seen as an indictment of all gun owners, and it has nothing to do with the Second Amendment. Most gun owners (as well as most non-gun owners) are law-abiding and responsible.

However, given incidents like these in just the past few months, and the life and death consequences of firearm misuse, Americans have good reason to want most places in public life to be gun-free - including free from guns in the hands of concealed carry permit-holders.

(Note to readers: This entry, along with past entries, has been co-posted on bradycampaign.org/blog and the Huffington Post.)