Since the 1980s, American state laws regarding concealed carry of a firearm have undergone a dramatic change.
Three decades ago, they were either totally banned or heavily restricted. Now, the right to carry a firearm has been recognized and upheld by federal courts as a constitutional right. While most states do still require permits, they are simpler and easier to obtain, with the injunction that the state “shall issue” such permit, instead of leaving it up to the state about whether it “may issue” it.
Rolling back laws that limit the reach of places that citizens could carry guns
Part of this process has been the rolling back of laws that restricted guns in certain places, such as churches and houses of worship.
The tragic mass shooting at a church in Sutherland Springs, Texas, provides a case in point about why such laws were misguided. The shooter was eventually stopped,by a nearby NRA instructor using an AR-15 rifle –but not before 26 were killed.
To be sure, mass shootings are overall a small percentage of overall homicides, and panic or paranoia about their impact is understandable but unwarranted. Most people who carry a handgun for self-defense do so for whatever possible scenario might arise. Most of the time that won’t be this sort of mass-shooter scenario.
Concealed carry is not a panacea, but is a necessary step for self-defense
It’s also true that concealed carry is not a panacea. In the case like Texas and others like it, it’s true that an attempt to return fire might have been unsuccessful. But it still would have improved the odds: Much as police arriving on the scene and returning fire with their own handguns.
The arguments raised in opposition to concealed carry are built more on hypothetical fictions than upon demonstrated reality.
There has never been a documented case of two civilians accidentally shooting at each other in response to an active shooter, although the same cannot be said of police officers in such situations.
Fear of concealed carry stems from imaginary Hollywood scenes of cross-fire
Likewise, risk of a hail of bullets causing deadly crossfire seems to be based more on Hollywood scenes than any documented incident in the real world. People who choose to carry a gun are almost always proficient enough to understand when they do or do not have a clear shot.
Having a gun renders no obligation to fire it: It only gives the owner the option to do so. While real, the risk from friendly fire is far less than from an active shooter methodically mowing down unarmed victims.
Concealed carry isn’t for everyone, and nobody should be pressured or urged into doing it if they aren’t comfortable with the idea.
Freedom to choose whether to carry a weapon or not
Anybody who makes the individual choice to carry a weapon should be competent and proficient with it’s usage. She or he should also be familiar with the ethical and legal obligations that surround the use of deadly force.
Yet the overwhelming evidence is that firearm permit holders satisfy both of those criteria, and better than many police departments.
Perhaps it is no coincidence that during the same time period in which concealed-carry laws swept the nation, violent crime and murder rates plummeted by more than half. Despite the media’s natural focus on crime and tragedy, homicide and other violent crimes remain near an all-time low.
In a life-and-death situation where seconds count, such as the active shooter massacre in San Antonio, it is always preferable to have the means and capability of self-defense. That won’t always save the day – as in Las Vegas –but having citizens armed and capable self-defense can and often does make a difference in the death toll.
(One week after the shooting on November 5, 2017, the First Baptist Church of Sutherland Springs is turned into a memorial to honor those who died. The inside of the church has been painted white with 26 white chairs placed around the room. On each chair is a single rose and the name of a shooting victim. The chairs are placed throughout the room at the location where the victim died. The memorial will be open to the public. A man had opened fire during Sunday service at the church. Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images.)