Friday, March 22, 2013

Governor Herbert Vetoes HB 76 – Concealed Carry Without a Permit

Governor Gary Herbert has vetoed Utah House Bill 76, a modification to Utah’s concealed carry laws for fire arms, and I’m glad. This bill would allow anyone in Utah to carry concealed weapons, without a concealed carry permit. Some of my friends will likely be upset with me, but I can’t imagine why it would have passed in the first place.

I am a firm believer in the right of American citizens to bear arms. Indeed, when I joined the USMC I took an oath to defend the U.S Constitution and, although that was many years ago and I no longer actively serve, I till take that oath very seriously. I prefer to think of myself as an “inactive Marine,” not a former one. As such, I have the honor of having belonged to a warrior culture. Being part of a warrior culture is very different from being part of a gun culture.

Most members of a warrior culture prefer peace over violence; we’re just not above using violence to protect ourselves, our friends, our family, our community or our country’s lawful interests. NOTE: that’s LAWFUL interests. We’re trained in the appropriate use of deadly force, weapons use and safety. We are NOT trained to kill indiscriminately. Accidents involving “friendly fire” are common enough to make us nervous. Such accidents can lead to the death of civilians, or members of our units. As you can imagine, we wouldn’t be very happy about any of those things happening. Such things are taken very seriously by “higher ups” in the chain of command, regardless of what the media shows.

Currently, in Utah people with a concealed weapon permit have to go through gun safety training. They are given information about the appropriate use of deadly force. In short, they may not be warriors, but they know when to, and when not to, use a firearm. They can be trusted to carry a gun.

Most people who participate in gun culture share the same goals and concerns that members of a warrior culture do. Most of them are intelligent people who take gun ownership and use very seriously. Not all of them have taken the time to be trained, however. Not all of them understand the fine points of gun safety or the appropriate use of deadly force. Not all of them know not to fire into a crowd. Many do, but not all. So called “common-sense” is far from common. Someone with a loaded gun, who doesn't know the proper and safe use of it, is a danger to himself and others every time he draws it.

Changing the laws so that anyone can carry a concealed firearm, training or not, means that we will have more people who are untrained carrying weapons that they may, or may not, know how to properly use, and there is no way for anyone around them to figure out if they are packing or not. From the perspective of a bad guy, that might be a good thing. Bad guys are less likely to act badly if someone might be packing. But they don’t know who’s got a concealed carry permit or not so, from that standpoint, the impact is minimal at best.

It would pose a problem for law enforcement, however. Right now, if you’re packing a concealed weapon without a permit, you’re breaking the law. Pretty cut and dried. If not, the officer has to make a call as to your intent. The wording of “intent” is pretty vague. Even if the officer decides that you may have criminal intent in carrying the firearm, if he can’t prove it, later, this opens the state to lawsuit after lawsuit.

If the governor’s veto of HB 76 is overturned, we can expect an increased number of both trained, and untrained, gun wielders running around, as well as a waste if more state tax dollars on frivolous lawsuits. Why would anyone think this a good idea?