“Man shot to death by neighbor”, “Woman shot to death by ex-husband”, “College female raped and shot to death, suspect at large”. You hear about it every night on the news. Thousands of deaths occur in California each year by way of firearm. Would the story have ended the same way in the above headlines if those victims had been carrying a concealed handgun with the proper training? While it is true that it is legal in many states to carry a concealed weapon, the problem in California is that our laws do not make sense, and continuing to enforce gun control will ensure that Californians stay powerless while criminals continue to illegally obtain weapons. The current state of gun laws in California is cause for a high number of violent crimes and needs to be changed to make it easier for Americans to purchase handguns, carry them as concealed weapons, and use them—if necessary—to protect themselves and their families.
Constitutionally, guns are meant for personal protection and to protect us from a tyrannical government. Personal protection, in today’s society, being the most important. This rings truer than ever when days like December 2nd, 2015 are taken into account. Robert Adams (40), Isaac Amanios (60), Bennetta Betbadal (46), Harry Bowman (46), Sierra Clayborn (27), Juan Espinoza (50), Aurora Godoy (26), Shannon Johnson (45), Larry Daniel Kaufman (42), Damian Meins (58), Tin Nguyen (31), Nicholas Thalasinos (52), Yvette Velasco (27), and Michael Wetzel(37) were all victims murdered in 2015 in the San Bernardino terrorist attack. Those 14 people were celebrating their company’s annual Christmas party inside of a rented banquet hall. It was 11:00 in the morning when Syed Rizwan Farook and Tashfeen Malik shot and killed 2 outside of the banquet hall and proceeded inside where they found their way to killing 12 more people. What if just 1 person at the banquet hall had a handgun on their person? If these 2 individuals had stepped on the scene with all of this tactical gear, brandishing guns, and a good samaritan withdrew their handgun from its holster and stopped the attack before it ever got started. Now imagine everyone on the scene were carrying a handgun. Would these 2 terrorists have even bothered that day? Would the risk have been worth whatever the reward they were expecting? Causation says it would not be worth it. Not one person that day had a gun, and the police had to chase these 2 around surrounding cities placing more lives in danger. More lenient gun control would have ensured that situation didn’t get as far as it did.
When Obama took office, the number of concealed handgun permit applications soared. From 4.6 million in 2007 to 12.8 million. After the spike, murder rates throughout the country dropped from 5.6 killings per 100,000 down to 4.2. “It puts the lie to the myth promulgated by anti-gun individuals that somehow more law-abiding citizens carrying guns will lead to more crime. In fact, quite the opposite is the case,” said Larry Keene, senior vice president and general counsel for the National Shooting Sports Foundation. “More law-abiding citizens own firearms for self-protection, and crime continues to decline” (Howell). This stat alone is enough to make you believe we could be doing better with our enacted laws. States like Alaska, Arizona, Vermont and Wyoming are amongst the few remaining states that do not require a permit to carry a concealed weapon. They are considered “no permit required” states. These 4 states do not require you to apply for anything. You simply walk into an establishment, purchase your weapon of choice, and go about your day. Vermont in particular has very little gun control for both its residents and visitors. As a visitor of Vermont, you can both open carry, and conceal carry without a permit. In fact, the only restriction you have is in purchasing a handgun. You cannot simply buy it and take it home with you. It must be shipped back by a federal firearms licensee (Katzowitz).
According to the Center for Disease Control’s website, in 2015, 36,132 deaths came by way of firearms in the United States (Firearm Mortality by State). That number is staggering, and one has to assume that many of them were senseless deaths. When tragedy strikes, because of gun control, we’re simply unprepared, and even our law enforcement knows it. In 2013, a survey was taken of 15,000 law enforcers by PoliceOne.com that found that 91% of those surveyed believed that citizens who’ve never been convicted of a felony and have no mental issues should be allowed to carry a concealed weapon. Of those 91%, a full 86% of them believe that casualties would have been reduced or avoided if citizens had been properly armed during recent tragedies. This means that the men and women sworn to protect us believe that American citizens should have the right to own, carry and use their handguns the way in which the second amendment gave us the right. It means that the men and women of the law, the ones out on the front line fighting to keep you safe day in and day out believe that that fight would be a little easier if you became a responsibly armed citizen. This speaks volumes when you consider the countless lives that have been lost in senseless scenarios that are labeled as terrorist attacks and tragedies. When a terrorist attacks, we’re told we shouldn’t be allowed to have guns. Instead of arming ourselves to protect ourselves, our families, and others around us in case another “tragedy” strikes, we have to jump through hoops and wait and hope that we are approved to have a weapon and be able to conceal that weapon.
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We as Americans should have the right to arm ourselves against criminals that have armed themselves. The answer to whether or not lighter laws on concealed weapons would deter crime is not quantifiable. “In order to deter crime, however, laws that make it easier for citizens to carry concealed firearms must also increase people’s perceptions of the number of concealed carriers in a community. Without increasing the number of perceived carriers, easing concealed carry may only lead to other, perhaps unforeseen, externalities if the number of actual concealed carriers increases. Unfortunately, whether or not these laws actually influence public perceptions of the number of firearm carriers has never been tested” (Fortunato). Even without having tested this theory, the logical conclusion would be that more people have access to guns, so less criminals are going to be willing to engage in a firefight possibly resulting in their demise.
There is no argument that any individual brandishing a weapon needs training. No one should just be allowed to pickup a tool that endangers each and every life around them without first knowing when to use it, and how to use it when you do. Like a baby with a power saw, adults using a gun without training could have significant consequences. Mandatory bi-yearly training courses and psychological evaluations should be a requirement of gun ownership. The same way you must retake your driving test every 5 years in California, each gun owner should need to prove that they know how to responsibly use their weapon. With the combination of these things, the United States of America can be a place we can all be proud of again. A place where crime rates aren’t the highest in the world. A place where you do not have to fear going outside. A place where you do not have to fear for your children’s safety as they roam the streets while playing with their friends. The opportunity to truly make America great again. It is not until you are introduced to characters such as Christopher Harper Mercer that reality sinks in and you are left wondering what could have been done to prevent what was to follow.
On October 1st of 2015, Christopher Harper Mercer walked into a classroom at Umpqua Community College in Roseburg and opened fire killing 9 people and injuring another 9. He later shot himself in the head after being wounded by police. They found 9 guns stashed in his backpack and more at his home. Recently, authorities released a ‘manifesto’ left by Mercer. It was given to a student singled out early on in the attack and told that he would survive if only he would pass the envelope on to the police when they arrived (Flaccus). What if, however, that student had been carrying a concealed weapon. What if when Mercer approached him, instead of going on a killing spree, the student had ended things before they got started? What about Columbine? What about Sandy Hook? The planes that crashed into the World Trade Center? How different would our country’s history be if we were allowed to carry concealed weapons without jumping through so many hoops? “Harper Mercer’s mother, Laurel Harper, told police in an interview the day of the shooting that her son was “born angry” and would have fierce tantrums as a young child that required her to pin him in a ‘bear hug’” (Flaccus). People like this are going to continue doing bad things. There is no shortage of crazy in the world. Until we are able to defend ourselves, and the ones we love, we will continue to be lead to the slaughter.
California laws absolutely hinder our ability to obtain a concealed weapons permit. Unless you have connections or are in the process of obtaining a job that requires you to carry a gun, the application process is nearly impossible to get approved. Those restrictions tell criminals, “we are completely unarmed, have your way.” It tells them that we are unarmed and you can do anything to us that you wish. Rob us at gun point. Shoot us and steal our wallets that contain only $14. Shoot up our schools, our parks, our homes. We have no way of stopping you. We are powerless. It is time to take back our power. it is time for gun reform in California, because what we are doing now simply is not working. Our government does not have the right to tell us when and where we can have a gun. The current state of gun laws in California is cause for a high number of violent crimes and needs to be changed to make it easier for Americans to purchase handguns, carry them as concealed weapons, and use them—if necessary—to protect themselves and their families.
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Flaccus, Gillian. “Shooter That Killed 9 at College Left 6-Page ‘Manifesto’.” Time, Time, 8 Sept. 2017, http://time.com/4934314/umpqua-community-college-shooting-manifesto/.
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