Considering the fact that Texas now joins 44 other states in allowing its residents to openly carry handguns into public venues like restaurants, shopping malls and so forth, why has the Texas open-carry issue become such a big deal? I’ll tell you why. Because the argument over the bill was loud and intense, and the opponents of the new law have vowed to vigorously pursue an opt-out strategy into the new year. The Texas law, as opposed to other states, gives merchants and other property-owners the right to post a notice saying that open-carry is not permitted on their premises, and a new website has just popped up that carries an impressive list of businesses that want the open-carry nation to leave their guns at home.
Most of the now-45 states that have passed open-carry laws do not grant local option as to whether someone can openly carry a gun onto their property or not. Just this week the Denver Museum of Science and Technology announced that they would permit OC to conform with the Colorado OC law passed in 2003. The Colorado OC law, like most such legislative initiatives is very broad, granting OC just about anywhere – restaurants, educational facilities, shops – because it tacks OC onto a previous law that made it easier for Coloradans to acquire the right to concealed-carry (CCW) based on something referred to in the CCW law as the “constitutional right of self-protection,” which, as far as I can tell, happens to be a Constitutional right which doesn’t exist at all. You show me where the words ‘self-protection’ appear in that storied document and I’ll send you a gift certificate to Amazon, TJ Maxx or Best Buy, your choice.
The reason I raise this last point is because when you enter the world of gun laws, particularly laws which make it easier for folks to buy, own and carry around guns, you enter an Alice-in-Wonderland world of laws that purport to make it easier for Americans to defend themselves with guns, but in fact have nothing to do with self-defense at all. What they have to do with is making it easier for the gun industry to sell more guns by promoting the utterly false notion that folks make themselves and others safer by walking around with a gun.
The notion that armed self-defense makes us all safer is false for the following reasons: 1) there is not a single, credible study which shows this to be true; 2) only a tiny percentage – less than 1% of all violent crime – is actually prevented by people walking around with guns; 3) not a single state which allows its residents to carry guns either concealed or openly requires lethal force training that would even remotely prepare someone to properly respond to any kind of criminal threat.
Of the 37 states which require some kind of training certification prior to owning guns, most of them mandate, at best, the gun safety training courses developed by the NRA. These courses were designed to teach people safe-handling techniques when they are cleaning their guns at home or shooting them on the range. They have nothing to do with training gun owners to use their guns for self-defense, and they do not require any real proficiency training at all. I’m sorry, but shooting a few rounds at a paper target doesn’t qualify in my book for anything remotely connected to the use of lethal force. If anything, it just gives folks a false sense of security because they now can walk around with a gun.
Most states that allowed OC did so as adjuncts to hunting laws when, by definition, you need to openly carry a gun. But that was then and this is now, and now we face a gun industry that promotes OC because they want to sell more guns. It’s time to put away the Alice’s looking glass and base gun laws on common sense.