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Conceal & Carry Gun Laws: Preserving or Eroding Freedom?

by Mike Ferguson

"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." Amendment II, United States Constitution

Mike FergusonForty 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 referendum.

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 privileges.

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 political parties.

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 Amendment rights.

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 may seem.

Mike Ferguson

Link to article: http://www.geocities.com/michaelaferguson/mypage.html

All rights reserved. Permission to reprint this essay as a guest editorial, letter to the editor, commentary or other viewpoint/ opinion item is granted under the following conditions: 1) the essay is published without edit and 2) the author is given full and proper credit.

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