Re “The paradox of open carry laws,” Opinion, Feb. 23
Only in the United States could there be a serious article on the advantages and disadvantages of carrying a gun openly or concealed; only in the United States could a George Zimmerman or Michael Dunn incident happen; only in the United States, among all developed countries, is there a mainstream culture of fear that accepts carrying a gun as necessary for protection.
Some Americans still believe that Elvis is alive, that the Earth revolves around the sun, that the world is flat and that witches exist. So it’s not surprising that some also believe gun violence is the best answer to many disagreements.
Why is there no serious discussion about this culture and the maiming and killing that it generates? More to the point, how can there be serious discussion when some of the participants are armed and ready to shoot?
I disagree that open carry is the answer. I believe society is safer when licensed concealed carry permit holders do not openly arm themselves (loaded or unloaded). It’s safer for criminals or the mentally disturbed not to know who is armed.
I also feel open carry is dangerous to the person carrying the gun, as he or she can be blindsided and have the firearm taken away by a criminal. Furthermore, many people become agitated by the sight of firearms, so why make them more uneasy?
About 40 states have mandatory “shall issue” concealed carry permit laws. I travel extensively throughout this country, and life goes on normally in these states. The cities there do not have a “High Noon” atmosphere.
Law professor Adam Winkler’s proposal to repeal California’s ban on the open carrying of firearms is an example of the “Alice in Wonderland” state of the 2nd Amendment debate in America. While there may be some legal logic to his argument, it defies common sense to suggest that big cities can only restrict the carrying of concealed weapons by permitting guns to be carried openly on their streets.
Mayors, police chiefs and other officials who face the ongoing scourge of gun violence — and who worked hard to repeal the open carry laws — should remain vigilant in fighting for a sensible, practicable interpretation of the 2nd Amendment’s right to bear arms.
Winkler unabashedly asserts that “the text of the [2nd Amendment] guarantees not only the right to ‘keep’ a gun … but also to ‘bear,’ or carry, arms.”
Rather, the actual full text of the amendment reads: “A well regulated militia, being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms, shall not be infringed.” The entire right to “keep and bear arms,” therefore, is qualified by the predicate clause.
As the modern-day equivalent to a “well regulated militia” would be our National Guard, the 2nd Amendment confers no right to keep or bear arms upon any individual.
Some seven decades of jurisprudence agreed with this interpretation. The courts only recently took a radical revisionist turn because of the appointment to the Supreme Court of John G. Roberts Jr. and Samuel A. Alito Jr. by President Bush.
Mark E. Kalmansohn