Tuesday, May 13, 2008

More Musings from a Gun Nut

I suppose I'll continue with my opining on the subject of guns, and why not? It's been a topic of much discussion here in Georgia as of late due to an impending revision of our state's gun laws.

For those not familiar with U.S. conceal carry laws, there are basically 3 categories the 50 states fall under when issuing permits for carrying a concealed firearm. The first type is "May Issue" which means that once a citizen applies for the license, the state may or may not issue the permit to the individual at its discretion. Reasons for declining a permit applicant can include being under 21, use of medication that may alter reason, or any other condition the individual state or jurisdiction may cite. These laws vary from state to state and sometimes from jurisdiction to jurisdiction.

Then there are "Deny Issue" states. These states are in the minority, and have prohibited their citizens from carrying a loaded, concealed sidearm under any circumstance. Though individuals can possess guns in their homes and in business for the sake of protection, once outside in public, carrying one is considered a crime. In addition, transport of firearms in these states requires that they be unloaded and in a case with the ammunition separate from the gun.

The last category is called "Must Issue," and Georgia falls under this classification. In these states, if the requirements for a permit are met, the permit must be issued without discretion. However, even in the state of Georgia, and other "shall issue" states, there are restrictions as to where the permit holder may carry a concealed weapon. In Georgia, permit holders are not allowed to have their weapons in places of worship, state parks, bars or the nebulously defined "public gatherings" which includes gun shows or political rallies.

Recently, the Georgia State Legislature proposed expending where licensed gun owners can carry concealed firearms. The bill passed in both the house and senate by an overwhelming majority, and if the law is enacted by Governor Sonny Perdue, permit holders will be legally allowed to carry in parks, on public transportation and in restaurants that serve liquor.

Needless to say, this revision to the state's carry law is drawing howls of protest from the usual suspects. The Georgia Association of Chiefs of Police opposes the bill, as does Atlanta Mayor Shirley Franklin (Who believes the expanded right to carry will "promote violence and vigilantism."), the anti-gun group Georgians for Gun Safety, the head of the rapid transit provider MARTA and a slew of mayors from around the state. Sadly, none of them can mount an intellectually honest debate against expanding the carry laws. Even more pathetic, they don't remember why these revisions were enacted in the first place.

It all started with Meredith Emerson, a student at the University of Georgia. She was reported missing on New Year's Day of this year after going on a hike with her dog in Georgia's Vogel State Park. It was here she ran afoul of drifter Gary Michael Hilton who incapacitated her with a blow to the head. She lived for 3 more days, and then when she died, Hilton decapitated her.

Hilton was charged with her murder, and was also found to be involved with the murders of an elderly couple hiking in the North Carolina mountains and another woman in a Florida state park. His M.O., like so many other criminals, involves picking a location where they know their victims are more likely to be unarmed. In this case, Hilton stalked state parks.

So why expand the carry laws to include MARTA? In 2007, MARTA's record on incidents of violent crime cannot be described as a "safe environment." There were 94 robberies (More than the previous 3 years), 74 aggravated assaults (Also the highest level in three years.), and 2 homicides (More than the previous 3 years combined.). While the overall number of crimes has dropped over the previous three years, the incidents of VIOLENT crimes has increased. To deny citizens the right to defend themselves at the very moment a violent incident occurs is in itself criminal!

I applaud the decision of Georgia's legislature to expand where law abiding citizens can carry their weapons. It's a bold move that flies in the face of political correctness, shows that lawmakers understand where the true threat lies and strengthens the average citizen's 2nd amendment rights. Now, in spite of the objections of gun grabbers and woefully uninformed politicians, the playing field for survival on the streets has been leveled a little more in favor of the average citizen.�