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The Journal Gazette

  • Aldridge

Friday, September 29, 2017 1:00 am

Money, not safety, drives unlimited gun-carry foes

Bob Aldridge

The Sept. 14 Journal Gazette editorial, “Shot in the foot/Unlicensed gun-carry arguments debunked,” does not “debunk” the reasons to support the right to keep and bear arms without paying the state for a permit to exercise a constitutionally protected right.

Nowhere in the U.S. Constitution is there a requirement to pay for a permit issued at government discretion to exercise any of the rights enumerated in the Bill of Rights. However, the editorial staff at The Journal Gazette, among many other anti-Second Amendment people, believes such discretionary government permission should be required in Indiana, and residents should pay for such permission with the proceeds going  into the state's general fund.

Loss of state revenue from discretionary-issue permits, according to the editorial, is adequate justification to keep requiring Indiana residents to purchase handgun carry permits. I concede that such loss of state revenue is the main reason for resisting a legislative change removing the requirement to purchase the permit to exercise a constitutionally protected right. It is exceedingly difficult to persuade legislatures to forfeit a source of income.

Another argument proffered is police safety. Gun control measures are, without fail, couched in alleged concern for “safety.” All50 states, now, have some form of law allowing residents to carry handguns. Only one state has always, since 1791, allowed its residents to carry handguns without any sort of government permission: Vermont. As we all know, Vermont is the national hotbed of gun violence. Wait a minute – breaking news: Vermont almost always has the lowest rate of gun violence among the 50 states. Vermont is followed by Maine, Virginia, New Hampshire and Idaho. Those five safest states are all constitutional-carry (permit not required) states.

What about the other states (14 total) with constitutional carry laws? Constitutional carry is a fairly recent phenomenon, but three states, Montana (1991), Alaska (2003) and Arizona (2010) have substantial experience with constitutional carry. All three have experienced reductions in gun homicides, not the increases predicted by naysayers. It should be obvious that criminals, by definition, do not obey laws and almost never seek to acquire permits to carry.

The Journal Gazette editorial, then, touts the International Association of Chiefs of Police as opposed to constitutional carry. The association's positions on gun control read like a wish list from the Brady Campaign and the Joyce Foundation (a large contributor to the IACP): bans on assault rifles, limited magazine capacity, waiting periods to purchase firearms, banning armor-piercing ammunition and .50 caliber firearms, and on and on. All of the proposals from the IACP have been shown to have no effect on violent crime.

Contrary to the IACP, a March 2013 survey by PoliceOne of more than 15,000 law enforcement officers across all ranks showed overwhelming support for law-abiding citizens carrying handguns. A total of 91.3 percent supported allowing law-abiding citizens to carry firearms. And 54.7 percent said legally armed citizens are very important in reducing crime rates. Regarding reducing large-scale public shootings, among seven possible responses, “More permissive concealed carry policies for civilians” had the greatest response. Regarding the mass shootings at Sandy Hook Elementary School and an Aurora, Colorado, movie theater, 80 percent said, “Casualties would likely have been reduced” by legally armed citizens.

Requiring paid permission by states to exercise a constitutionally protected right has no positive effect on violent crime. On the contrary, early indicators show reductions in violent crime in states adopting constitutional carry.

The Journal Gazette editorial, then, changes gears completely to recommend adding mandatory training for governmental permission to exercise Second Amendment rights. Although I am exceedingly in favor of people getting proper training in the safe, correct and responsible use of firearms, there are no constitutional requirements to obtain discretionary governmental permission to exercise any of the other constitutionally protected rights, much less government-mandated training to qualify for such permission.

Conclusion: The only reason to oppose constitutional carry in Indiana that withstands scrutiny is the Indiana general fund would lose millions of dollars in fees. The other reasons have been “debunked.” Safety is not the issue.

It is the money.

Bob Aldridge is a Fort Wayne resident.