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Do you feel lucky?

Perhaps Rolando Garcia ’02 and his commentators are arguing in favor of concealed carry laws — laws which would allow law-abiding individuals to carry handguns.

Sure, after the fact everyone in the city starts hunting and mourning for a missing Juliard girl, but how many of those people would have done something if they saw her being murdered?

Perhaps an armed Eph would have done something . . .

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#1 Comment By Eric Smith ’99 On June 7, 2004 @ 7:56 am

I am not sure I understand the conceal permit argument.

If I understand the concealed weapon argument, it is essentially saying that were a larger percentage of people carrying concealed weapons, then… and here is where I’m hazy:
1) crimes would happen, but someone would see this happen and then presumably shoot the person that committed it
2) crimes would happen, but the person it is happening to is carrying a weapon and then somehow saves themselves via their weapon.

Neither of those arguments make any sense at all.

If you are going to make a gun argument – it shouldn’t be concealed at all.

Seriously – if you were a criminal and you were walking down the street looking for someone to rape/rob/murder/mug/pillage/plunder/etc, would you look to go after the quiet and questionably armed person (maybe she is carrying, maybe she isn’t – do you take your chances?) or do you go after the girl carrying a sawed off shotgun over her shoulder and whistling?

In his blog posts, he says that “nobody does anything about it”.
Were they all carrying concealed weapons, would then then all draw their weapons and rain a hail of bullets down on the guilty man, creating some sort of instant justice and thereby resolving the need for a policed society?
This would assume that the people know how to use their weapon in the first place.

I know with great certainty that were I carrying a gun and got mugged/robbed/beaten/fondled/whathaveyou and I tried to draw the damn thing in “the perp” I would very likely end up getting shot myself.
I have about a total of one hour in my 27 years life experience dedicated to shooting guns and I wouldn’t say that makes me too useful.
I would wager that someone that is going around committing crimes is far more likely to have more experience with a gun than me – therefore my drawing the gun on them is sort of like saying “oh hey, I might shoot you, or uh, if you want you can just grab it from me and kill me… either way – your call – let me just fumble here a minute.”

I live in a country right now where guns are banned and while we do have a rather high break and enter sort of crime rate – nobody gets killed during these things.
Enter guns into the equation and all of the sudden you start seeing a lot of dead people.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not terribly against guns.
But I think if you are going to make the argument, at least make a good one.

#2 Comment By Shimon Rura On June 7, 2004 @ 10:02 am


Good observations. I think maybe the pro-gun side ignores the fundamental shortcomings of *concealed* carry because it would be an unacceptable cultural shock if non-police were seen to carry guns. Can you imagine transacting business with an armed hot dog vendor? How about taking a class with an armed professor – does he keep it strapped to his belt the entire time, offering an occassional view when his gestures elevate the edges of his jacket, or set it down on the desk first? What about sitting down at a meeting? There is something about the statement “I have killing power” that is often best kept to oneself.

#3 Comment By Kevin Koernig ’05 On June 7, 2004 @ 1:58 pm

First of all, I would definitely put my money on the guy with the concealed carry permit over the criminal in a gunfight. There may be a few exceptions, but in just about every state that has concealed carry you need to go through mandatory gun training to get a permit. I doubt that your average criminal with a gun has gone through any significant gun training, mostly because their gun is likely illegal. They aren’t just going to walk into a range with an illegal gun and take some target practice. Fortunately for them, you don’t need to be a particularly good shot when your victim does not have a gun.

As for why these laws are always concealed carry, I think Shimon pretty accurately describes the situation. I’m a big gun rights supporter, but I definitely don’t want a world where people walk down the street with shotguns over their shoulders. The point of concealed carry is to give citizens the ability to carry a weapon to defend themselves if it comes to that. That is why the weapons is supposed to be hidden. It is not meant to be displayed as a threat, but rather held back as something that can be used if the situation calls for it. The deterrent effect is there just as well under concealed carry, and in fact it may even be greater for the general populace. If any person on the street might be carrying a gun, you will have much more timid criminals and a lot of people who might otherwise have thought that a life of crime was a reasonable career path thinking about trying something else. There is a reason, after all, why Britain’s violent crime rate, including gun crimes, has skyrocketed to be well above the America’s since all handguns were confiscated in 1997, just as there is a reason why Washington DC, where no one is allowed to carry a gun legally, is known as the Murder Capital with its incredibly high gun crime rate.

Anyway, I think the thing that bugs me the most about Eric’s position is that it contains an element of one of the central ideas among gun control advocates, that having more guns around automatically yields more deaths. First of all, this definitely has not been proven by any studies. In fact, the CDC recently surveyed 51 major studies of the effects of gun laws, and found no evidence that gun laws reduce violent crime. As I stated, to get concealed carry you must be well trained, and your average gun owner is also very likely to practice with his weapon and know what he is doing. Add that to the fact that most criminals do not want to get shot, and the result is that around 95% of gun use for self defense is non-violent. So in the case Eric brings up, there would likely be no hail of bullets or vigilante justice, but rather an individual drawing his gun and using the threat of force to stop the criminal without firing a shot. In the other 5% of cases, innocent victims are not mowed down in the crossfire. For a good source of news stories about gun use in self defense, check out Operation Self Defense (http://www.keepandbeararms.com/opsd/), which tracks and links to news stories on the subject.

Of course, the other part of Eric’s argument that I don’t like is the idea that we should all strike some sort of bargain with criminals. They can enter our homes, terrorize us, and steal our property at will, and in exchange for our not having guns to resist them they probably won’t kill us. That may sound like a good idea to you, but I’m not a fan of it. All I am asking is that you at least leave me an option. You want to not have a gun and hope that saves lives, that’s fine with me. Just respect my right to protect myself, my family, and my home with a gun. Personally, I’d much rather live in a country that keeps the option open, so that any criminal will always have to wonder whether the home or person he is attacking is capable of resisting in the strongest possible way.

#4 Comment By Eric Smith ’99 On June 7, 2004 @ 2:58 pm

Ah, the good old internet discussion that quickly turns into “I don’t agree with you, therefore you are wrong.” and then the “here is a website that lists things I agree with”.

I should restate that I am not against guns. But I should also state that my faith in the common man is just about zero.

I personally just feel that the average weapon holder has a lot more self confidence than they should with something that has that much power.
Were I give the choice, I would rather live in a place without them. I am not for banning them, and I don’t disagree that were someone given the option to run or be shot at (not get hit by said bullet per se), they would likely run.

But I would imagine in problem space of potential solutions to people getting assaulted on the street, owning guns doesn’t have to be the largest island that we must jump towards.

(as for my shotgun over the shoulder reference, it was very much satirical in nature, and largely referencing a Neal Stephenson work)

#5 Comment By Kevin Koernig ’05 On June 7, 2004 @ 4:19 pm

Of course, one problem with all those other solutions to people being assaulted on the streets is that they also require a lot of faith in the common man. You need faith that your fellow man will not illegally acquire a gun. You need faith that most people are not out to do you harm just so they can gain some sort of advantage from it. You need faith that the police will be there to protect you in your moment of need. Concealed carry does not negate any of those risks, but it does make it possible for those who choose to carry to have a pathway to overcome them. The guy with the gun tucked into a shoulder holster can know deep down that if someone means him harm and the police, being limited in number and not omniscient, are not on the scene, he has some ability to defend himself. Without the gun, he just gets to cross his fingers and walk quickly from place to place, trying not to make eye-contact with anyone or otherwise attract attention.

#6 Comment By Eric Smith ’99 On June 7, 2004 @ 5:43 pm

hmm, you must live in a worse neighborhood than I do

#7 Comment By David Kane On June 8, 2004 @ 6:25 am

For the record:

1) Eric lives in Bermuda. Virtually everyone I have ever met lives in a “worse” neighborhood than he does! ;-)

2) My purpose in the original post was not to argue for or against concealed permit laws, but to suggest that if, like Rolando Garcia ’02, you think that good-hearted Ephs (including, presumably, female ones) should actively interfere in violent crimes while they are in progress, you ought to be in favor of allowing those Ephs to be armed.

3) The actual debate around this topic is interesting, especially from a stastical point of view. Much of it centers around the work of the very controversial John Lott, author of “More Guns, Less Crime”. Whatever your views on the substance, there can be no denying that the topic would make for an interesting senior thesis.