In California, the Governor recently signed a bill banning the open-carry of an unloaded firearm.
As passed, this bill made it a misdemeanor for any person to carry an exposed and unloaded handgun outside a vehicle upon his or her person while in any public place or on any public street in an incorporated city, or in any public place or public street in a prohibited area of an unincorporated county. Please refer to, Assembly Bill 144 (AB 144) for specifics:
Assembly Bill 144 (AB 144) had previously been defeated but came back around after the shooting in Arizona, where congressional representative Gabrielle Giffords was shot in the head by Jared Lee Loughner. Notice that I did not use the word “alleged”, which is namby-pamby and politically correct. I do not think that there is doubts in anyone’s mind that he was the shooter so please do not tell me that I need to use the “alleged” word.
“Just because one person is comfortable with their weapon,” says Anthony Portantino (the California Assemblyman behind the bill), “doesn’t mean that gives that person the right to infringe on the rights of other people who aren’t comfortable.”
Conversely, I say “Just because one person is not comfortable with weapons, doesn’t mean that gives that person the right to infringe on the rights of other people who are comfortable, and who are legally eligible, to carry weapons openly or concealed – loaded or not.”
Despite the fact that crime rates are down nation wide and that there has never been a reported incident of an Open Carrier hurting someone, the California Assemblyman is firm in the belief that the practice of open carry is a public danger and a drain on police resources.
The California Assemblyman also stated something to the effect of “We are not in the Old West.” You are exactly right, Mr. Portantino. The fact is that the “New West” is a far more dangerous place to be even though today’s crime rate for violent crimes has decreased. However, I do not feel that a bad person’s propensity to have and bear arms for nefarious purposes has declined.
Let us return to the Gifford’s shooting for just a moment. The following was the statement found in a report by NPR:
“At least six people died and at least a dozen were injured in the Saturday morning shooting at a Tucson, Ariz., grocery store parking lot, in which the gunman specifically targeted Arizona Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, Pima County, Ariz. Sheriff Clarence Dupnik said. Giffords was shot in the head, and the shooting continued until citizens tackled the suspected gunman.”
Note the, “…until citizens tackled” portion of the statement. In fact, one of the citizens who responded had a permit to carry a firearm, had the weapon drawn, but did not use it.
Also from NPR:
“…Joe Zamudio, a hero in the Tucson incident. Zamudio was in a nearby drug store when the shooting began, and he was armed. He ran to the scene and helped subdue the killer.”
“I came out of that store, I clicked the safety off, and I was ready,” he explained on Fox and Friends. “I had my hand on my gun. I had it in my jacket pocket here. And I came around the corner like this.” Zamudio demonstrated how his shooting hand was wrapped around the weapon, poised to draw and fire. As he rounded the corner, he saw a man holding a gun. “And that’s who I at first thought was the shooter,” Zamudio recalled. “I told him to ‘Drop it, drop it!'”
Zamundo also stated, “I was very lucky. Honestly, it was a matter of seconds. Two, maybe three seconds between when I came through the doorway and when I was laying on top of [the real shooter], holding him down. So, I mean, in that short amount of time I made a lot of really big decisions really fast. … I was really lucky.”
When Zamudio was asked what kind of weapons training he’d had, he answered: “My father raised me around guns … so I’m really comfortable with them. But I’ve never been in the military or had any professional training. I just reacted.”
Of course, the attention was given to the shooter rather than those who intervened and probably saved a couple of lives including an elderly woman who had the wherewithal to grab a magazine dropped by the shooter.
MSNBC had this twist to say, “We’re enormously lucky that Zamudio, without formal training, made the right split-second decisions. We can’t count on that the next time some nut job starts shooting. I hope Arizona does train lawmakers and their aides in the proper use of firearms. I hope they remember this training if they bring guns to constituent meetings. But mostly, I hope they don’t bring them.” (Italics are mine for emphasis).
Perhaps, if more citizens were armed (and I will add ‘and trained’ in the use of those arms) we could count on them the next time some nut job starts shooting. Would having an armed citizen in the crowd have prevented the tragedy? Probably not, but having an armed citizen present may have prevented further and unnecessary slaughter of innocent people.
So how did the police presence help that day? Oh, wait! There was no police presence! Remember, police are under no obligation to protect the individual; they are to protect and serve the public. Congressional representative Gabrielle Giffords status did not warrant police protection and police presence was not requested. Would having an armed and trained police officer present prevented the shooting? Probably not, as these things happen too quickly (remember the Reagan shooting?).
Legislators reacted to Rep. Gabrielle Giffords’ shooting by giving themselves added police protection — that is, covering their own butts while leaving everyone else’s exposed. This point is obvious by Assembly Bill 144 (AB 144). By the way, congressional representative Gabrielle Giffords did have a gun; it was in her purse. Though Giffords supported a ban on semi-automatic weapons in November 2000 and has received a low grades in the “D” range from both the National Rifle Association and lobbying group Gun Owners of America, the three-term congresswoman has been vocal about her support for gun owners’ rights.
My state, Georgia is not a traditional open carry state. However, open carry IS legal with a Georgia permit. It is also worthy of note that you MAY openly carry a firearm without a permit in a motor vehicle.
Texas, for example, is not a traditional open carry state. They also do not allow open carry, or even printing, by those who have a concealed carry permit. Texans may carry a loaded handgun in a vehicle only if it is concealed.
In most cases, I prefer concealed carry. However, I am allowed to carry openly if I so desire. The difference, with me, is in the determination as to which mode of carry is appropriate. For myself, if I am amidst the public, I prefer to carry concealed. If I am in a campground somewhere in Georgia with other campers, I prefer to keep my firearm concealed. If I am primitive camping in the North Georgia Mountain, I will carry openly. If I am among other firearms enthusiasts, or at a range, I will carry openly. In short, the decision to carry openly or concealed is situational for me and, at least, I have a say-so as to what method of carry is what I feel to be appropriate. (Note that in most Georgia Wildlife Centers where primitive camping is allowed, a loaded firearm cannot be carried in the campground area. However, it is not stated that ammunition for said firearm cannot be immediately available.)
The right to defend your self is a “natural” right. The right to keep and bear arms is an extension of the natural right to self-defense and the 2nd Amendment guarantees that it will not be infringed upon. Laws do not protect. Laws serve as a means for prosecution of those who break the law. People protect and a firearm is simply a tool that helps them protect more efficiently. As with police, my sidearm is not to protect the public; its primary purpose is to protect my family, my home, and me. To outlaw that right, in any manner, is criminal in itself.