Friday, August 12, 2011

Here's your sign

KintlaLake Blog often speaks to those who, like me, defend individual citizens' constitutional right to keep and bear arms. In this post, however, I want to address Americans who support gun control -- those who'd never consider owning a gun, who oppose individuals' possessing firearms, who believe that we citizens should rely solely on law-enforcement professionals for our defense.

Carrying a concealed handgun is legal here in Ohio, provided that the armed citizen possesses a valid state-issued permit. Even with a concealed-carry permit, there are certain "prohibited places" -- police stations, courthouses and government buildings, churches and school zones, among others, as well as any building or property displaying a sign like the one shown here (right).

If there's no such sign at the entrance of a facility, and as long as firearms aren't explicitly prohibited in the location by law, concealed carry of a handgun -- again, with a valid permit -- is allowed.

There's another sign (right) that's unofficial, voluntary and, because state law presumes permission without statutory or expressed prohibition, rare. It lets the public know that concealed carry not only is allowed -- it's (implicitly) welcome.

Mrs. KintlaLake and I exercise lawful concealed carry of our handguns, both here and in other states where an Ohio permit is valid. We abide by statutory prohibitions, which includes looking for no-guns signs and conducting ourselves accordingly. Typical of citizens who hold a concealed-carry permit, we obey the law.

If you're like most gun-control advocates I've encountered, you hold that laws allowing citizens to possess and carry firearms constitute a threat to public safety. The argument follows, then, that a building displaying a no-guns sign must be safer than one displaying the guns-welcome sign or no sign at all.

Now suppose you're strolling along a sidewalk in downtown Columbus, Ohio, when you hear a loud bang. At first you think it's a car backfiring, but then you hear several more -- bang, bang-bang...bang -- and you notice terrified people running in all directions.

"Gun!" screams a woman who knocks you off-balance as she barges past you. "Guy with a gun! Shooting people!"

You hear more gunshots. Two people fall to the ground, one of them less than a hundred feet in front of you. Just beyond, you see a man with a rifle.

You, of course, are unarmed. The police are nowhere in sight.

As you turn to flee, you notice two storefronts. Each has a sign posted on the entry door -- one prohibiting all firearms, the other welcoming their lawful carry. What do you do?

Remember, you truly believe that a place that bans guns is safer than allowing trained citizens to carry guns on the premises. You believe that laws and signs are your best defense.

You walk through the first door. Do you feel safe?

More to the point: Do think that crazed guy with the rifle -- or any other armed criminal -- gives a damn about laws and no-guns signs?

And do you, in that moment, still believe that you're safer seeking refuge where all law-abiding citizens voluntarily disarmed before entering, rather than choosing that "dangerous" place next door, where there just may be a responsible private citizen prepared for armed defense?

Look, I'll respect your choice not to own or carry a firearm -- the Second Amendment codifies a right, not a requirement -- but please, please stop trying to impose your ill-conceived rules on those of us who choose to lawfully take responsibility for our own defense.

"The philosophy of gun control: Teenagers are roaring through town at 90MPH, where the speed limit is 25. Your solution is to lower the speed limit to 20." (Sam Cohen)