OPINION — After years of waffling, wavering, and whining, Texas finally passed a law for constitutional carry of firearms. H.B. 1927, which will go into effect 1 September, makes it legal for any Texas citizen age 21 or over, who is not prohibited from legally possessing a firearm, to carry a handgun, concealed or not, in public. And now the wailing by the gun control crowd has begun in earnest. You know, the folks who prefer safe victimhood to dangerous freedom.
The worry is that Texas cities will suddenly revert to the Old West, with gunfights in the streets, bullets flying everywhere, and general mayhem and lawlessness. Gun control advocates believe the more people that carry guns, the more likely they are to pull them out and start shooting at the slightest provocation, regardless of the consequences. People who, prior to the law’s passage, would not have just shrugged and walked away. Regular folks.
Of course, this expectation doesn’t make sense. And it’s not like there are no examples of constitutional carry states from which to obtain data. At least twenty states have already passed constitutional carry, and the Old West remains Old. The street in front of the saloon hasn’t become any more dangerous at High Noon than it was before. So why the tantrums and bedwetting?
First, constitutional carry is a term that refers, obviously, to the United States Constitution. Specifically the second amendment to it, which states that the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed. And although many claim that right refers only to official state and federal militias, that view doesn’t stand up under the slightest scrutiny.
The Bill of Rights, the first ten amendments to the constitution, are not laws that restrict the freedoms of citizens in any way. They do the opposite. They are universally restrictions on government, designed to prohibit the feds from limiting the rights of the people. For the 2A to confine firearm freedom only to those enrolled in militias would mean that, for example, you’d have to be a gubmint employee to have the freedom to speak your mind (1A), or to be guaranteed a speedy trial (6A), and your home, as a common citizen, could be searched for pretty much no reason (4A). The 2A doesn’t limit gun ownership, it legally denies the gubmint from curtailing it, in any way, shape, form, or fashion.
Unfortunately, gubmint has done just that, ever since the National Firearms Act of 1934 was passed. But let’s just stick to the issue at hand for now.
Constitutional carry means that adult citizens with no criminal convictions are allowed to legally carry handguns in most places, without any kind of license or permit. In effect, the U.S. Constitution is their legal justification for arming themselves. The gun control crowd thinks this freedom will suddenly usher in more gun violence, because they believe everyone else is just as immature and unreliable as they are. And they have to be immature and unreliable in order to think that way. If they were rational, self-controlled individuals, they’d see the flaw in their reasoning.
To whit: The passage of constitutional carry will have zero effect on criminal behavior. Those determined to commit gun crime, by definition, ignore laws. Their conduct will not change on 1 September, because gun crime won’t be any more legal then than it is now. Being allowed to carry a gun is not the same thing as having a James Bond 007-type ‘license to kill.’
The law, likewise, will have no effect on the intentions of citizens who currently don’t break the laws. It will, of course, widen their options in case they’re attacked by the criminal element, but otherwise their conduct won’t change just because they can legally be armed. If they wanted to commit crimes, they would already be doing that, because that kind of behavior requires disregard for the law.
But opponents of the change know that they, personally, are unable to control their own emotions and behavior, and they realize that, if they were faced with, say, a road rage situation, and they happened to be armed, they would start shooting. And since they know they would do that, they think everyone else would react in the same way. With no confidence in their own self-control, they have no confidence in that of anyone else.
In fact, the opposite is true of constitutional carry advocates. They respect the rights of others, and are generally able to keep their emotions in check. Most already have a Texas LTC, and many carry daily. And by far the great majority find they are more polite and cordial when armed. They’re careful to avoid confrontations, because they recognize the finality of having to use their guns for self-defense. You can’t unshoot someone, after all.
As Robert Heinlein famously said, ‘An armed society is a polite society.’
People use guns for self-defense thousands of times every day in Texas, almost always without firing a shot. After 1 September, that figure will likely rise. Because a gun in the hands of an honest citizen is no threat to anyone who isn’t a threat to honest citizens . . .
Kendal Hemphill is an outdoor humor columnist and minister who would like to remind the gun control crowd that he doesn’t read mail written in crayon. Write to him at [email protected]