& Carry Gun Laws: Preserving or Eroding Freedom?
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." Amendment
II, United States Constitution
four states now have some form of so-called "Conceal
and Carry" gun laws. Proponents of these laws often
brag that the laws allow law-abiding citizens to carry concealed
weapons and protect Second Amendment freedoms. Opponents
of these laws decry them as a threat to "public safety".
Missouri is now among the states with a conceal and carry
law going into effect after the State Legislature overrode
a veto from our Democratic governor. The bill (HB 349) was
introduced after the plan was voted down on a statewide
Among the details of Missouri's new gun law are the requirement
of a permit to be issued by the local sheriff after fingerprinting
and registering the applicant, a background check to be
completed, a $100 fee to be paid, a state-mandated training
course, a minimum age of 23 to apply for the permit and
a designation on the permit-holder's drivers license.
A Republican State Representative, who happens to be a long-time
friend of mine, wrote about the new law in a recent email
update he sends to his constituents. He accurately described
the new law as "...a compromise between supporting
Second Amendment rights and the apprehensions of opponents
to conceal and carry." I appreciate his honesty and
candor on this issue, for Missouri's new law is just that:
a compromise of Second Amendment rights.
While many gun rights activists and conservatives hail the
law as a step in the right direction for freedom, I must
say that I see the law as a step in the opposite direction.
I agree that some ability to exercise Second Amendment freedoms
is better than the ban we had before, but it is a step towards
Australian and Canadian style gun control and will likely
only delay the inevitable effort of government to confiscate
(disarm) all citizens.
First, conceal and carry laws recognize the government's
ability to regulate Constitutionally-guaranteed freedoms.
The Second Amendment specifically states that "the
people" have an absolute right to "keep (own)
and bear (carry) arms". Those who claim the Second
Amendment only applies to state military units, like the
National Guard, are either mistaken about the language of
the Constitution or are simply outright lying about the
Constitution in order to proceed with citizen disarmament.
Every other time "the people" or "person"
is used in the Constitution, it clearly refers to individuals
and individual rights. The entire Bill of Rights is designed
to protect individual freedom from government. To say that
the Second Amendment is somehow an exception to both of
these aspects of the Constitution or that the meaning of
the language is somehow different on this one issue is either
extreme ignorance or outright dishonesty.
Another good friend of mine, Michael Badnarik, has spent
over 20 years studying the Constitution and it's history.
He teaches a class called "Introduction to the Constitution"
around the country professionally. Mr. Badnarik regularly
points out what should be obvious: that a right
is something you do not have to ask permission for, as opposed
to a privilege which is granted by an authority and can
be revoked by that same authority.
Tragically, conceal and carry laws show how many
individuals are willing to give up personal rights and freedoms
by accepting the government's conversion of them to revocable
Requiring those who wish to exercise their Second Amendment
rights to be tracked, fingerprinted like criminal suspects
and approved before allowing them to carry a gun tramples
the Constitution and sets up our society for the gun confiscations
that people in other countries, including Canada, have endured.
The conceal and carry debate is also a prime example of
the difference between Libertarians and both of the major
Democrats generally are hostile to the Second Amendment,
often citing "public safety" concerns. The political
left demands that you place your life in the hands of government
and rely on police protection in times of emergency. In
exchange for this government protection they want your Second
Libertarians, by comparison, are concerned with personal
safety. Libertarians understand that you have a basic human
right to protect yourself and that the government is incapable
of protecting individuals on a mass scale.
Here is a personal example. About six years ago I was robbed
at gunpoint about ten feet in front of the door to my apartment
building. The thug who robbed me got a leather jacket and
about $15 in cash. The complete ban on concealed guns for
citizens at that time certainly did nothing to prevent the
criminal from holding a revolver to my forehead, but it
did prevent me from legally having a means to protect myself.
I had no option to defend myself; I was forced to rely on
the hope that the robber would choose to not pull the trigger.
By the grace of God, he didn't and I am still alive today.
The police arrived within minutes of the crime, after I
called them. They caught the robber nearly five years later.
He was convicted and is now serving a lengthy prison sentence.
No one but the criminal knows how many people he robbed
in the meantime. Despite the excellent detective and prosecution
work after the crime occurred, the fact remains that the
government was incapable of protecting my life when I needed
it. The government did, however, prevent me from obtaining
the means to protect myself by denying my Second Amendment
rights to me.
This issue also demonstrates the difference between Libertarians
and Republicans as well.
The Republicans who supported and gained enough votes to
override the conceal and carry veto in Missouri most likely
feel they were preserving freedom. However, they have no
problem requiring citizens to pay $100 just for the their
Second Amendment rights. These conservatives have no problem
enrolling anyone who wishes to exercise their rights into
a statewide government database to track them and they have
no problem with denying adults between the ages of 18 and
22 their rights under any circumstances.
These are the compromises of the Second Amendment my friend
in the Legislature referred to.
Libertarians, on the other hand, would never compromise
personal freedom, especially an element of the Bill of Rights.
Libertarians recognize that freedom and rights are absolute
and should never be put up for a vote.
Conceal and carry laws do not complement the Second Amendment,
they erode it. Regulations and tracking of individuals do
not enhance freedom, they decimate it.
Freedom is indivisible. Either we have Second Amendment
rights or we do not. There is no in between. We, the people,
have a right guaranteed by the Constitution to keep and
bear arms. The government has no authority to infringe on
that right, no matter how trivial or appealing the restrictions
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