by Fred E. Foldvary, Senior EditorShould gun owners who have a permit to carry a concealed firearm in their State have the right to also carry the concealed weapon in other U.S. States? Congressman Ron Paul of Texas has introduced the "Second Amendment Restoration Act," H.R. 407, to secure this right. H.R. 407 would require that the States abide by the concealed carry rights of those who have permits or licenses, or who is otherwise entitled to carry a concealed firearm by the law of the person's state of residence.
There are 42 U.S. States which issue concealed handgun permits. (See States .) In Vermont, a citizen has the right to carry a firearm without permits. If H.R. 407 passes, the Vermonter would have the right to carry it in any other State without a permit.
Ron Paul's bill is an extension of similar policy for marriage and driving licenses. The U.S. States recognize the legal marriages of other States and also driver's licenses issued by other States. The States do not all now officially honor the concealed weapon permits of the other States. Some States do not allow reciprocity but issue permits to non-residents.
The problem with concealed weapons is that criminals carry them and use them against their victims. But criminals are already outside the law, so they carry the weapon law or no law. Concealed weapon permit holders are seldom the perpetrators of violent crimes. The benefit of concealed weapons is that law-abiding citizens are able to protect themselves when traveling. Also, the only policy that reduces multiple-victim shootings is a law allowing the carrying of a concealed weapon (See NCPA .)
Some States have "shall issue" laws which provide permits to qualified individuals with little discretion. Most deaths and injuries from multiple shootings occur in States without such laws.
In States which adopted "shall issue" laws, the rate of injury and murder dropped. Laws permitting concealed weapons have resulted in a reduction of murder and other violent crime by about 10 percent. Vermont, which has the least restrictive gun laws, also has a very low rate of violent crime. (See NCPA .) The greatest fall in murder rates are in places where a high number of women carry concealed weapons. (See NCPA .)
According to information provided by Ron Paul in his bill, citizens use guns to defend themselves more than 6000 times a day, and they shoot and kill over 1500 criminals a year, twice the number killed by police.
Constitutionally, the U.S. second and fourteenth amendments provide for the right to keep and carry arms, and for the States to honor the rights and liberties of all citizens. As a practical matter, the evidence suggests that laws providing for the right to carry a concealed firearm provide far more protection than danger. The police cannot be everywhere, and so the job of defense from crime belongs to the people as well as the police.
We have read the horrible stories of massacres in Timor, Rwanda, Cambodia, Yugoslavia, and too many other places. If the victims were well armed, would these tragedies have happened? It would not have been so easy.
Most folks would like to live in neighborhood and a world where there are few guns, and everyone is safe. To achieve such a world would require fundamental changes in laws, taxation, voting, and a paradigm shift in public knowledge and attitudes. Since such a change will not come within the near future, it seems to me that the supreme human right is the right to defend oneself from violent attack, and that for those who choose it, a concealed weapon is a right that should be respected.
For those who do not like guns and don't own or use them, the fact that many others do have and carry them protects us all also, since a potential criminal does not know in advance who has a concealed weapon. If he thinks I might be packing, he may avoid the risk.
-- Fred Foldvary
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Copyright 1999 by Fred E. Foldvary. All rights reserved. No part of this material may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, which includes but is not limited to facsimile transmission, photocopying, recording, rekeying, or using any information storage or retrieval system, without giving full credit to Fred Foldvary and The Progress Report.