Some Sensible Gun Laws for a Change
Hooray for the western states! Many of them are in the process of enacting long overdue and sensible gun laws. Perhaps spurred on by the unstable times we live in or just a sense that people should have the ability to defend themselves, states from Wyoming to Arizona are about to pass laws which will allow gun owners to carry their firearms on college campuses and carry concealed weapons without a permit.
In light of the Tucson shooting in which Jared Lee Loughner shot and wounded thirteen people, including U.S. Representative Gabby Giffords, and killed six others, these laws are just common sense. After all, one of the individuals that apprehended Loughner and terminated his shooting rampage was Joseph Zamudio who himself was carrying a 9mm semi-automatic pistol at the time of the attack. According to Zamudio, when he heard the shots outside the Safeway supermarket he immediately rushed to the scene to help. While most bystanders would have hit the deck or run in the opposite direction, he claims his carrying a gun emboldened him to act. This episode makes one wonder how many lives could have been saved if Virginia Tech students had been allowed to carry firearms on campus in April 2007 when Seung-Hui massacred 32 of them?
Of course, stories of armed private citizens saving life and property happen all the time. Back in 1995 the Journal of Criminal Law and Criminology at Northwestern University School of Law published a study that indicated that law abiding gun owners use their weapons for defensive purposes as many as 2.5 million times a year. This calculates to guns being used 60 times more to protect innocent lives than being used to shoot in the commission of a crime. Thus, loosening gun laws will only make us safer because they will give responsible gun owners more of an ability to intervene in crisis situations like the Tucson and Virginia Tech Massacres.
Of course, one of the criticisms of the anti-gun movement is that we would be less safe if everybody in society carried a gun. But, that is not what these laws would do. People and private property owners should and would have choice in the matter. Nothing would force an individual to carry against their will or a private entity to allow firearms on their premises. Most folks who own guns understand the enormous responsibility that comes with it. Our hero Joseph Zamudio was empowered by his gun to act, but he didn’t shoot it off wildly and endanger others. As a matter of fact, he ran into the face of self-sacrifice and didn’t fire a shot. Zamudio is indicative of most gun owners – they are ready and willing to help in time of emergency while maintaining the utmost care for public safety.
At the end of the day, government cannot be everywhere to protect us against bad guys. U.S. citizens have a natural right to self defense. In light of the violence from Mexico’s failed drug war spilling over our borders, the loosening of laws to carry a concealed weapon in America is indispensable to our self-defense. Additionally, as the Founding Fathers knew well, the best defense against tyrannical government is an armed citizenry. This is a lesson all too many people around the world know well.
Kenn Jacobine teaches internationally and maintains a summer residence in North Carolina