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Thursday, July 18, 2013

Concealed Carry

The acquittal of George Zimmerman in the shooting death of Trayvon Martin raises the question of the value of being armed in public and, specially, of carrying a concealed weapon.

Science fiction writer Robert A. Heinlein once wrote that an armed society is a polite society. That statement, however, rests on the twin assumptions that the vast majority of people are actually armed while out in public and that they are emotionally stable.

There are also a number of other issues to consider.

First, there is no deterrent value to a concealed weapon. Second, handguns are almost as hard to use as, for example, are violins: training and frequent practice are necessities. Too many of those who carry weapons in the public space have less training than they should and practice only infrequently.

Even worse, a significant fraction of armed citizens are emotionally unstable, if not actually mentally ill, and some of them are just plain nasty, bullies or criminals. Some, too, are drunk - which brings to mind the fact that saloons in the old West required customers to check their guns at the door.

The Supreme Court has ruled that being armed in public is subject to State law and most, if not all, States permit such behavior. From your correspondent's perspective, it is desirable to know when another person is armed. When armed citizens begin to behave in strange ways, including showing signs of aggression, that knowledge provides a cue to vanish into the woodwork at a significant fraction of the speed of light.

Given that being armed in public is generally legal, open carry is just about tolerable to your correspondent. Concealed carry, however, is an abomination.

For those armed citizens who think that it is clever to carry a weapon without a safety or with the safety not engaged, I hope that you trip and fall, and, as you hit the ground, that your weapon discharges and you shoot yourself in your most personal parts. That way, at least, you will have the rest of your life, as a non-participant in the gene pool, to contemplate your stupidity while looking ruefully at your Darwin Award.

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