John Lott points out last night’s mass shooting in Orlando occurred in a “gun free zone” and that media reports fail to mention this, and of course Dr. Lott is right that if it were not a gun free zone then much life could have been saved:
From the UK Daily Mail: The suspected Islamic extremist who killed about 50 people after taking party-goers hostage inside a gay club in Orlando has been identified. Law enforcement sources have identified the shooter, who was wielding an assault rifle and a handgun, as US citizen Omar Mateen, from Port St. Lucie in Florida. The gunman, who …
So why do I blame concealed carry?
I’m NOT blaming concealed carry because the perp was licensed to carry concealed. He was in fact so licensed (see here and here), but no screening system is perfect. There are obviously other issues at work here, probably including Islamist terror.
First let me say I agree it is good policy to expand concealed carry as an additional and at times alternative form of carry, at the option of the carrier — I even provide free concealed carry training at my office. (However, concealed carry is not protected by the Second Amendment.)
But concealed carry failed to prevent or even limit loss of life in this largest of mass shootings, and it failed to do so in the very cradle of concealed carry. Although eight other states had shall-issue concealed carry laws, or the equivalent, when Florida passed such legislation in 1987, it was Florida that served as a model for other states enabling such legislation to sweep the nation over the next several decades.
If concealed carry laws lead to improved militia ethic, it should have done so by now in Florida. Yet Florida still bans carry in bars, as do many states with concealed carry laws, and just this year an open carry bill failed in Florida. The former leading state on carry has thus opted out of the new leading trend of open carry.
As I like to say, “Open Carry is Ultrasound for the Second Amendment.” Concealed carry makes it easy to ignore the carried gun, much as an unborn baby is ignored by pro-aborts. Concealed carry is uncomfortable and often inconvenient in any weather and especially in hot weather, yet more frustration is added with sundry legal restrictions placed on the small ghetto-ized segment of the population that carries. That is why even in gun-friendly states no more than about 5% of the population is licensed to carry, and far fewer than that carry on a regular basis.
In a concealed carry regime, it is too easy to say, “We can’t have a drunken fool shoot someone in a fight, so let’s ban concealed carry in bars.” Easy peasy, right? (See the NRA endorse gun free zones here.) Except that criminals and crazies ignore such laws, and the laws leave the law-abiding victims defenseless. The problem is obviously worse when the target is a demographic with a reputation for relative pacifism, but presents itself generally. There is no way to profile carriers due to the concealment, so just raise the penalty on everyone for carrying and pretend everyone will comply. Nuts!
In an open carry regime, the bar owners and everyone else present could profile the open carriers and remove them from the premises if deemed a risk. Were anyone to inappropriately draw a gun (whether holster open or concealed), they might get a shot or two off but that’s it, and anyone shot would likely survive. More likely, the potential shooter would just move on and find a more suitable bar catering to a more pacifist crowd.
The shall-issue concealed carry movement is to be applauded for expanding interest in carry but the fact that there has been little progress in removing gun free zones in long-standing concealed carry jurisdictions, and the fact that many such states are now embarking on a new trend in allowing open carry, should cause one to at least consider the superiority of open carry — especially since it has a more solid constitutional basis.
Only open carry objectively deters before an attack. (Deterrence value of concealed carry is more theoretical, so even if you ultimately win the fight you may be injured severely by a criminal who did not know you were armed.) Just as the aposematic insect sporting bright coloration warns predators of potential harm, the aposematic citizen warns predators of potential harm (or in the minds of many such attackers a worse fate: failure) by sporting an openly carried firearm.
Only open carry educates the public about carry as an option, and expands interest just by the act of carrying.
Only open carry provides accountability (so you know which bars to avoid, for example; also, so irresponsible/dangerous carriers can be dealt with).
Let me put it another way: Concealed Carry CAUSES Gun Free Zones. At least anecdotally it appears that way — for example, may-issue California has far fewer restrictions on carry than the typical shall-issue jurisdiction. [Maybe calgunners who blame open carry demonstrators for the open carry ban will take note?] In addition, those restrictions have a chilling effect on the general overall frequency of carry even outside of the restricted venues.
Is Concealed Carry to blame for Orlando? Yes, as one cause (among others).
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David R. Duringer, JD, LL.M, is a concealed firearm instructor and tax lawyer specializing in business and estate planning; licensed to practice law in the states of California and Washington. He is managing shareholder at Protective Law Corporation, serving Southern California from its Laguna Hills (Orange County) headquarters and satellite offices in San Diego County (Coronado and Carlsbad).
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