Donald Trump and the Gun Law Revolution
With just over two weeks to go until Americans wave goodbye to Mr. Obama and the words "former president" can be put in front of his name, those of us who've been sinking in the quagmire of anti-gun legislation prepare for a new, and different, sheriff in town. And it couldn't come fast enough.
Yes sir, times, they are a-changin' – at least regarding the prospect of firearm legislation, specifically concerning gun-free zones and concealed carry permits. Before the gun-grabbers start to spin out of control, let's just say up front that the purpose of this article is not to suggest that everybody and anybody should be ready to lock and load. But it does seem logical that those who have been taught a modicum of firearm safety and the proper handling of a gun should no longer be prohibited from carrying a firearm to protect themselves from violence and perhaps even terrorism.
It is certainly nice to know that the future president shares these views. While it's understandable that gun legislation has become an emotionally charged issue, this seems like an opportune time to cull together the facts about an armed citizenry and allow reason to prevail.
At year's end, the NRA Institute for Legislative Action cited an article on Breitbart that enumerated "20 Times Bad Guys were Stopped by Armed Citizens" in 2016. The NRA then followed up with an article from the Crime Prevention Research Center cataloguing another eleven crimes that were terminated by armed citizens. What's so revealing about these defensive actions is the age of many who used a firearm to defend themselves.
The Breitbart report identified at least five of those crime-stoppers as senior citizens ranging in age from sixty-five to eighty, including one man on dialysis and another on oxygen when they confronted perpetrators. Surprisingly, there were two children on the list – one fifteen-year-old "who used a shotgun to stop an alleged home invader" and an eleven-year-old homeschool student in Alabama who "opened fire on a burglary suspect striking him in the leg." Six of the citizens who had to defend themselves out of the thirty-one mentioned in both articles were women – one against a man who had a protective order filed against him.
While aggregate numbers aren't yet available for 2016, a report last year by the Daily Caller News Foundation showed that "[g]un carrying, private citizens who used firearms to stop criminal attacks saved at least 283 potential victims in a period between July 2014 and July 2015." To be honest, that number seems low.
Logic dictates that it is impossible to defend yourself if you aren't allowed to keept a firearm in your vehicle, in your handbag, or on your person. A gun cannot protect you when it's sitting at home in your range bag. Thus, the need for an overhaul of concealed carry legislation includes concealed carry reciprocity among states as well as a repeal of gun-free zones that situate citizens in places where they are entirely defenseless. Some of us even passionately believe that open carry should be the law of the land. But it's probably best not to get our hopes too high.
The problem with current concealed carry laws is this: concealed carry gun restrictions are so muddled and baffling that they have citizens wondering whether they can even go from county to county within their states with their firearms for fear that they are violating one law or another.
Case in point: Most of my youth was spent inside gun clubs around western Pennsylvania, where firearm safety was indoctrinated in us with every type of firearm available – from a Colt .45 to a .357 Magnum. By age fifteen, I was entirely comfortable with pistols and by sixteen a .20-gauge shotgun. Having spent a lot of time on the firing range, I decided that a concealed carry permit was in order when my husband ran for public office in 2011. There are a lot of crazies out there, and one never knows.
Living in liberal Fairfax County, Virginia meant filling out and then filing a half-inch sheaf of paperwork along with a personal trip to the county courthouse. Finally, months later, my permit arrived. Whew!
But because we reside in the D.C. Metro area, the permit served only to complicate things. Could I take my firearm the twenty-minute drive into the District of Columbia? What about when I traveled fifteen minutes in the other direction into Bethesda, Maryland, where we worship and belong to a club? If you know anything at all about D.C. and Maryland, you know that those are two places where you most certainly do not want to get caught with a gun unless you want to find out what's on the menu at the county lock-up. The constant confusion about what was allowed where ultimately proved to be a fundamental impediment to my right to carry.
Far be it from me to advocate a federal government solution to a local problem, but this is one area where it may be nothing short of indispensable. And if you look at those who have utilized firearms to protect themselves – from the old to the young, including women – it seems almost criminal to keep firearms out of the hands of those who desperately need them.
For years, the gun-grabbers have had their way with firearm legislation, and this has led to a nightmare of local laws that have ordinary citizens afraid to lock and load. But on January 20, there will be a new sheriff in town, and it is entirely possible – and right – that this nightmare of laws and restrictions should come to an end.