Excuse Me, Is That A Pistol In Your Pocket?

The news of massacres in public places has become disturbingly common in recent years.  The pattern seems nearly predictable: a disturbed, suicidal young man with a gun opens up on a room full of innocents, and people die.  I cannot imagine the terror of those endless moments, cowering helplessly as some nutjob wanders among my fellow victims and I, deciding on his whim who lives and who dies.  It’s so horribly . . . unfair.

The news always carries the panicked 9-1-1 calls after the fact.  We hear the terror in the victims’ voices as they wait for the police to gather in enough strength to effectively and safely confront an active shooter.  Please, God, they must think, please don’t let him take me.

At that moment in time—in that focused, terrible instant of life and death—I doubt that anyone gives a moment’s thought to what kind of tragedy in the shooter’s life might have led him to do such awful things.  I doubt that they care whether the weapon was legally obtained, or whether a background check was done.  In that circumstance, if I could see past the panic, I think I would feel true bitterness that that guy gets to decide whether I will live or die, and that I don’t have a vote in the outcome.  It’s just wrong.

In a shootout, votes come in the form of return fire.

I live in the Commonwealth of Virginia, where nearly 280,000 non-law enforcement personnel carry concealed weapons permits.  That’s a little over 3% of the population.  Every permit holder has been vetted by the feds and by the state police, and they’ve shown that they have no history of mental illness or violent crimes.  I find that comforting.

Less comforting is the knowledge that if I travel to Maryland, my neighboring state, or to the District of Columbia, where assault and murder rates are significantly higher than in the Old Dominion, it is a felony to carry a firearm in public under virtually any circumstance.  Thus, the bad guys—the assaulters who, by definition, are less concerned about acting feloniously—get to choose which of the lambs they wish to slaughter without consequence.  Understand the meaning here: in those areas and in many others throughout the country—hello, Chicago and New York—the guy who defends himself from a life threatening attack by use of a firearm is still guilty of a felony.  The police and the prosecutors expect for you to wait for rescue by the police because when seconds count, the police are only minutes away.

How is this anything but unjust?  How is it not obvious that gun-free zones are target-rich environments for bad guys?

In the political arena, this discussion invariably comes around to the common memes of banning certain kinds of weapons or limiting the size of magazines, or the greater meaning of the Second Amendment.  All of these are worthy of civil discourse (yeah, good luck with that civil part), but such topics fall outside my argument here.

We are where we are.  Folks who shouldn’t have guns have them, and they’ve clearly realized that there’s no quicker route to fame than opening up on a crowd.  Adam Lanza, the Newtown monster, obsessed over the Columbine killings (thanks in part to wall-to-wall media coverage), and reportedly kept spread sheets of famous mass murders.  He was a nutjob.

People like him are an immeasurably tiny percentage of the millions of gun owners in the United States, yet they grab the headlines—this, despite the fact that violent crime in America is at record lows.  I understand that perception is reality, but what I don’t understand is the popular reaction to the perceived reality: Rather than rising up against the threat, the anti-gun crowd preaches timid surrender as the best solution.  Duck and cover.  Shelter in place.  Be patient for those twelve, fifteen, twenty minutes that it takes to assemble the counter-assault teams.  Await your turn to die.

Is it difficult to understand why some people would like to have the right to shoot back?

Since I’m relatively new to the Roundtable, and we therefore don’t know each other all that well, I want to be crystal clear about the point I’m making:  I do not believe in vigilantism, and I remain firmly committed to running away as the best possible defense against danger.  Sometimes, though, running is not an option.  I cannot imagine how anyone who faces an imminent threat of death or serious physical harm at the hands of a murderer would not have the right—would not demand the right—to defend himself.  To recognize the right to defend, then, is to recognize the right to carry.


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36 thoughts on “Excuse Me, Is That A Pistol In Your Pocket?

  • Joe Moore

    The term “nutjob” is used a couple of times here referring to the killers that fill the headlines with senseless, unimaginable mass shootings in our schools, malls, theaters and other places. According to police accounts, the shooters came armed to the teeth with enough weapons and rounds to inflict massive damage. I think the word nutjob is almost too cute because mass murderers like Adam Lanza, Eric Harris, Dylan Klebold and others are insane. Their brains do not function in a normal, logical manner. Almost always, the story ends with the killer taking his own life after inflicting widespread death and pain. As these killers loaded up their weapons and got ready to head over to the mall or the elementary school, I wonder if they ever stopped to consider that they might face someone armed and ready to shoot back?

      • Donna Royal

        Interesting Thoughts. Who Knows? I have just started working with the Seriously Mentally Ill, and from what I’ve observed about the potential for violence – I don’t think that registers. We really need improved Behavioral Health support in our communities.

  • Dorothy Distefano

    In a small, supposedly safe suburb of a small city, some kids were goofing around very late at night/early in the morning, depending on your perspective. They were jiggling car door handles, even on cars in driveways.

    A man happened to see these teens in his driveway. His first reaction was not to call 911. His first reaction was to grab a gun. Then, he still did not call 911. He went outside. The kids were, by this time, well off of his property, on the other side of the street. Our “hero” did not wield his cell phone still… He yelled a threat and shot at the boys. And he hit one. In the back. And killed him. The boy was 16.

    This seems to sum up a lot of problems with having guns. People use them. I don’t have a gun in my house. If someone comes in shooting, I won’t stand much chance either way. It would be nice if some legislators would stop screwing around with our tax money and protect us, but I suppose that’s just a pipe dream.

    By the way, the man was, UNBELIEVABLY, found innocent.

  • Donna Royal

    Your argument is rational on many points. You support background checks, you support safety classes, you wonder why someone wants to open carry in public. Unfortunately so much of the dialog regarding this issue is guided by the NRA, that doesn’t want to debate any aspect of gun ownership, except to exploit fear and promote gun ownership. And our conservative leadership takes their guidance from the NRA, and our less than conservative leadership tries to appease the NRA. This has moved the argument too far to the right for most reasonable debate and viable solutions. I feel I have to make the obligatory statement before going further: I was raised shooting and my father’s inheritance to me was guns. My husband is a hunter, and we are well armed with all manners of weapons, including the landscape rock in our yard! But I am disturbed by the gun violence in our society and don’t believe that it can be addressed as simply as gun background checks. We need to explore why gun violence is so prominent in America. We exceed countries that we consider violent in gun deaths. What is going on here? The Florida “Stand Your Ground Law” is a great study in the inequities and problems that are present when the average citizen is armed and can legally defend one-self. It even illustrates that those trained in weapons can be lacking in judgment in the moment. Australia had escalating mass shootings, and answered that by banning guns – by all evidence it worked. What other developed country has the same amount of gun deaths and mass shootings as the U.S.? A true conversation on safety in this country extends beyond defending our right to arms – it would examine what the heck is going on? Can we really justify weapons of mass destruction available to the public? How many of the mass shootings involved average hunting weapons or weapons used to hunt humans? How much are we willing to invest in mental health? The story of the Newtown shooter raises too many questions; why a mother of a mentally ill child would think that increasing his access to weapons was appropriate, who provided support to her, how could support have been provided? This argument extends beyond the right to defend one-self with a weapon. I would like to support that right unequivocally – it makes sense at a certain level, but so much of what I see makes me question whether that right is actually helping us or hurting us.

  • John Davids

    John excellent post, I agree with most of your stance. My insights.

    I have 32 years sworn law enforcement experience, 25 as a trainer, firearms, defensive tactics, tactics, dignitary protection and most recently certified as active shooter response trainer. The new mantra is: “Locate, Isolate, Eliminate, Fast”. I am not asconcerned with crossfire issues as much as I am with responding LE shooting citizens who are taking action. But I look at it like this, if I have a cardiac arrest I am already dead, I don’t need to see the CPR card of the person attempting to keep my heart circulating blood. Yes there are issues… But the first issue is to stop the shooter now. It is not rocket science.

    People tend to over think this and insert a lot of “what ifs” Let’s deal with “what is”and end it.

    There are two camps, one says guns are the problem and the other says bad people are the problem. The problem is not the guns as much as how do we keep guns away from criminals, terrorists and the mentally ill. Forget the first two… We can’t…. I have no problem with background checks ( which where I live are the law) or a data base of the dangerously mentally ill.
    If the otherside wants these requirements and training for concealed carry( which I believe is a good idea within limits) then they need to give a bit and allow concealed carry throughout the US. However neither side will give. The anti- gun side looks at all guns like my wife looks at all bugs….EEEK!

    The question for me on a personal level is not whether I carry when I go to the movies or to walk my dog. I do, it is what do I carry. My personal defense five shot Airweight, or one of my several semi-autos which are much better for an active shooter situation.

    We the police cannot protect everyone everywhere. We all need to accept a certain degree of responsibilty for our safety and the safety of our neighbor. We must accept the possibility that someone might want to victimize us. We must refuse to be a victim.

  • Ward PLummer

    I have my concealed carry permit. Now that I do, that piece of paper in my wallet is heavier that the gun I carry. Now that I’m allowed to carry, I’m not sure I have the grit to get through the “after the shooting” issues. If you are forced to shoot, you are in for a large number of problems: Was it realy self defence? What if someone else in injured or killed in the exchange? Can you explain what you were thinking before you fired? You WILL need a lawyer to get through all that is coming your way. If you are found not criminally liable, there is still the civil aspect of this. Will I be sued for wrongful death? (there’s that lawyer thing again). Will I be threatened by the perp’s friends and family? Above all else you’ll have to live with the knowledge you have taken a life. These are the things that make that piece of paper so heavy. I pray I’m never forced to find out if I have the grit on not.

  • Juli Monroe

    John, here’s my concern. I support people being able to own guns. I intend to start target shooting as soon as I find some spare time. However, I have problems with owning a gun for self-defense. I’m not sure that, when it came down to it, I could fire the gun. Look at all the data for, say, the Civil War, when a large percentage of soldiers couldn’t actually fire a gun at the enemy. (I’m aware that modern training has addressed that for today’s soldiers.) However, without that training, it’s my understanding that it’s very hard for a person to attempt to kill another person.

    So here’s my concern with having a gun for self-defense. I’m going to assume that I fall in the category of “probably can’t fire to kill.” However, I’ve got to assume that someone intending harm to me doesn’t have the same problem. I’m afraid if I had a gun, all I’d be doing is giving someone another tool to harm me.

    Or am I looking at it wrong? I’m open to another view point on it.

    • John Gilstrap Post author

      Juli, panic response is a very real thing. When I was in the fire service, I encountered people who refused to climb down the ladder I’d brought for their rescue because they were too frightened. (That changed when I said, “Okay,” and started to leave her in the window. One of my best-played bluffs.) I think I would have the resolve to kill if my family or I were threatened with mortal danger, but I hope I will never find out. Philosophically, I’m comfortable that someone who is trying to kill me is worthy of being killed, but it’s all just tough talk until it’s reality.

      As I said in my post, I am convinced that running away from a threat is always the best option. When the threat follows, however, the algebra changes.

      • Austin Camacho

        I haven’t seen anyone say it yet, but let’s remember that using a firearm when in mortal danger does not necessarily mean taking a life. I believe that showing that you have a gun and know how to use it properly will end MOST conflicts. I also believe that if you use the common 9mm or 38 caliber you are not likely to kill a normal size man if you shoot him once aiming center mass. (in fact, friends on the force have told me that you might not even knock him down with one shot) but you will almost certainly change his mind about hurting you.

        • John Gilstrap Post author

          Austin, I have to respectfully disagree here. A center-of-mass hit is going to shred something vital, whether heart, lungs, liver, spleen–something. At a self-defense range–generally accepted as 7 yards or less–even a .22 is lethal is the shot is aimed correctly. As for brandishing a firearm to defuse a situation, that’s a very dangerous and slippery slope.

  • John Teegardin

    I was raised around guns but I do not own any. I have no problem with people owning guns, carrying guns and using them for self defense. What I do have a problem with are the amount of people carrying who consider themselves trained, responsible citizens. Many are but many are not, yet they still carry and, at times, use the guns. A shooting over texting or one in my home state where two people involved in road rage opened fire on each other and both died. I realize these are exceptions to the rule but they still happened. It is legal to open carry in Michigan. People are testing the law by carrying and then complaining when stopped or questioned by the police. How do I know the person is a responsible gun owner? Will this lead to everyone carrying just to protect themselves like the wild west? I would never agree to taking guns away from people but I would like to know I can be safe. I have no answer, just questions.

    • John Gilstrap Post author

      John, open carry has always been a hot button issue with me. In Virginia, every citizen of a certain age (18 or 21) is born with the right to openly carry a firearm. Permits are only needed for concealed weapons. While I respect the right, I don’t understand the logic of open carry. What’s the sense of being so provocative–if not for the sake of being provocative. Some will argue that the presence of visible firearms reduce the likelihood of crime even more, but I personally don’t buy it.

      Now, the movie theater incident is an interesting case. The shooter there was a retired cop–the category of gun-toter that is (nearly?) universally grandfathered out of concealed permit laws. In my estimation, he falls well within the working definition of nutjob.

      • Donna Royal

        The movie theater is interesting in that it involved a trained law enforcement officer carrying a gun to movie theater and using it to defuse a difference of opinion regarding texting. There was also a man who opened fire into a car of youths playing music loudly. Both situations could have been settled by walking away. One was a trained gun owner, the other owned a gun, but both had a gun and settled a minor situation that escalated due to temperment. We have also had numerous minors bringing guns to school since the beginning of the year and shooting their fellow students – 7 shootings in all in January alone, 13 in 6 weeks of the new year. This is not minor news, this is Major News. 28 killed in mass shootings since the Newtown Event. This is not just about nutjobs. Something is going on in our society that goes beyond nut jobs getting guns. It goes beyond the simplicity of arming ourselves to being able to protect ourselves from these incidents. When I grew up, we didn’t have to worry about if our teacher was armed and could protect us. We weren’t safe because nutjobs were afraid that the teachers and mall cops were armed. What has happened in the intervening years? This is a macro issue, not micro.

        • John Gilstrap Post author

          Donna, sorry to be so long getting back to you on your comments.

          I don’t pretend to have answers for why violent people do violent things, but perceptions notwithstanding, violent crime in America–violent crimes in all forms, whether it’s firearm violence or knife violence or baseball bat violence–is at an all-time low in the United States. Granted, statistics don’t matter to those who are victims or are friends of victims, but violence is clearly on the decline. Living in a world of round-the-clock media coverage, it’s easy to lose a sense of perspective–and the media depends on that loss of perspective to sell ad time, and politicians depend on it to sell agendas.

          When I was in school, I carried a pocket knife more days than not–as a tool, not a weapon, and no one ever gave it a second thought. In high school in autumn, it wasn’t at all uncommon for trucks in the parking lot to have a rifle in the back window. If teachers had guns for protection, we never would have known about it, and likely no one would have cared. Objects were not presumed to project intent back then. Of course, we also had student smoking areas, we were allowed to play dodge ball, and to strike back when struck by others. There were no shootings or stabbings as far as I knew, but the best fighter in Robinson High School was the vice principal, whose name I’m not sure I remember, who would break up hallway fights by flinging fighters. If someone was hurt, an ambulance would be called, but no law suit would be filed. Such fights were not prosecuted as assaults, and discipline came in the form of detention, not expulsion.

          Certainly, the world has changed. It’s for future generations to decide whether the change of the last twenty years is for better or worse. But when the final history is settled, and sociologists weigh all the smart things we did against the stupid things we did, I don’t imagine that the inanimate weapon will ever be judged as being at fault on its own.

          • Donna Royal

            There is small comfort in knowing that violence in general is in decline but mass shootings and school shootings are on the increase. So violence by weapons that take more work are down (knives, bats, etc) , and violence by weapons that kill more people with less effort is up. Guns are inanimate weapons, but have great capability in the wrong hands, and automatic weapons have to be judged accordingly. What has changed in society is a big debate. I don’t know that answers, there are so many possibilities, but I look to the power of persuasion and it’s force in America. In the last 30 years we have witnessed an increase in Black and White thinking, Right vs. Wrong, Left vs Right, and if you fall on either side of the boundary then there is no dialog. Which is why this Congress is so unproductive. There is no reasonable dialog and very little compromise. Very little. Guns and their effects fall into this category. So much of what the gun is capable of supports life in this country; hunting to feed our families, and perhaps the right to self-defense. But the argument for guns tends to extend beyond the need to feed our families and self-defense. We could use bats for self-defense, we could use knives, we could use landscape rocks. But instead we have amazing weapon capabilities available to us that extend beyond basic self-defense. We have weapons available for mass destruction and we have limited our ability for dialog, and I think it’s very important that this point be discussed. The popular programs on TV and Radio cater to Emotional persuasion, and I think that plays a large part in what we are experiencing today. We are much more fearful than our counterparts in other developed nations, and thus feel the need to protect ourselves more. I agree – the gun is not the problem – we are the problem. A bat or knife is not the problem – it is not used in mass killings. I see a gun as a useful item for hunting, but not for kiling people, and we have to examine our relationship with guns and determine what is important to our well-being. I have more to say, but after having a busy schedule of entertaining with family in town and work tomorrow – I wind down.

  • Sid McCrackin

    Nice article, John. The only thing I would add is that the primary risk that concealed carry helps address is the risk of being victimized in ordinary street crime. The likelihood of being caught up in a mass shooting is pretty remote. I understand, however, why you focused on mass shootings; such shootings always make the headlines, trigger the anti-gun backlash, and generate calls for new regulations that still wouldn’t prevent such shootings. People need to realize that the public gun-free zones are part of the problem, not the solution.

    Regarding training for concealed carry permits, the main concern should be maintaining an appropriate level of training, both in the practical skills of handling a firearm, and the legal knowledge about when, where, and under what circumstances it can be appropriately used. Training requirements for concealed carry permits around the country are quite uneven, with at least one state even issuing permits to non-residents based on on-line training, which may then be recognized in some other states by reciprocity. Unfortunately, the current political trend in some states (most recently in my childhood state of South Carolina) is to reduce or eliminate time or content requirements for courses.

    • John Gilstrap Post author

      Sid, by way of full disclosure, Virginia is one of the states for which online training suffices. When I am elected king, such will not be the case.

  • John Ramsey Miller

    The best analogy I’ve heard is that in nature films we always see lions (name your predator) chasing down gazelle (choose your favorite antlered prey) . Occasionally one will turn and try to defend itself with its horns. Sometimes they injure or dissuade the predator. We cheer for the gazelle unless we have pet lions (name your pet predator). If we take away the horns the gazelle has no defense at we get two things: 1) a lot more gazelle sandwiches and 2) more effective predators because they know there is not even a shot at a lucky horn in their eye to fear from gazelles.

    Man, like every other animal on earth, have the “natural” right to an effective method of self-defense against predators. You have a natural right to protect your family and friends from threats. Criminals mostly come in the armed variety. You want to have your horns removed, fine. But just keep your hands off my horns. You may believe there are no dangerous people in your world, or that you can talk your way out of a threat, and you might. I do not want to take a chance on my verbal skills, or wait for the cops to show, if I get a chance to call them since they merely respond to radio calls.

    I have a permit and gun. I have been trained in the laws and the use of a gun. And I will use it if I am cornered.

    Surprisingly, the United States has a gun violence rate well below most other civilized countries if you just remove the top ten cities with the strictest gun laws on the books, who coincidentally have the highest gun violence rates. If you go by stats and not emotion, there is no reason to remove guns from society. In a society where we care about every person, there is reason to restrict who gets to own them and train those who can in safety and proper use.

    Just my two cents.

  • Thomas Kaufman

    Wow, John, why not take on a complicated subject instead?

    I’ve never owned a gun, but I’ve shot with different types of firearms (including automatic weapons) on a range and had fun doing so. I can definitely understand the fun of shooting, and it’s not hard to imagine that hunting would be fun as well. But I’m not convinced that gun ownership is the answer to the safety issues you raise. My problem is that I’m having a difficult time coming up with a better solution than retuning fire when under fire.

    Still, it’s hard to imagine owning a gun would make your life safer. A handgun in the home is 22 times more likely to be used to kill or injure in a domestic homicide, suicide, or unintentional shooting than to be used in self-defense (according to Richardson, Erin G., and David Hemenway, “Homicide, Suicide, and Unintentional Firearm Fatality: Comparing the United States With Other High-Income Countries, 2003,” Journal of Trauma, Injury, Infection, and Critical Care, published online ahead of print, June 2010).

    There’s also the risk that, when returning fire, you might wound or kill one of the innocents around you. Would the family of that victim feel grateful you were carrying?

    After Newtown, a friend said, “Too many guns, too many nutjobs. We’ve gotta cut down on one or the other.” There’s some truth to that. The question is how?

    • John Gilstrap Post author

      Thomas, statistics are sterile and safe. They should be the subject of a different discussion. The big issue in your post is in your penultimate paragraph: What happens to the self-defense shooter who misses? Well, anyone who pulls a trigger is 100% responsible for every round he sends downrange, irrespective of intent. Of equal concern to me is the shooter who chooses the wrong ammunition, and whose well-placed shot to the bad guy goes on to hit a good guy.

      • Norb Vonnegut

        John, I think Tom’s point about getting caught in the crossfire is just as important. Not everybody has access to gun training…or the inclination to get it.

        • Austin Camacho

          Hmmm…. not everyone has the inclination to get driver training, but we require it and the same should apply to firearms. (interesting that no matter how many traffic fatalities there may be no one suggests banning cars…) But seriously, I believe that every sane responsible adult should be able to own a firearm, but that training should be required before you take that weapon anywhere except a range.

        • John Gilstrap Post author

          Norb, I can’t speak for every state, but the vast majority require proof of training in order to get a permit.

  • Austin Camacho

    John, you make some excellent points and while I agree with you almost totally, I’d like to add a couple ideas to the conversation.

    First, I believe the reason gun violence is lower where restrictions are lower is the deterrent effect. Even the total nutjob is less likely to start blasting when he knows someone might just shoot back. And in fact I feel safer in any public place knowing other trained shooters may be in the room. Perhaps the massacres would have less impact if the bad guy gets shot as soon as his crazed attack begins. And maybe they’d happen less often.

    Second, I’m disappointed that the public conversation has stayed away from asking WHY so many students feel the need to shoot up their school. What is on in those schools that makes certain individuals feel the need to make this particular statement? Maybe we need to make as much noise about the problem as we do about the symptom.

    • John Gilstrap Post author

      Amen, Austin. Perhaps we should start by allowing children to be children, and stop expecting them to be little adults.

  • Shane Gericke

    Excellent post, John. Guns are the most effective way to protect yourself from criminals trying to kill you or your family. Smart people understand this and carry appropriately, just as we keep extinguishers in our homes on the unlikely-but-still-possible chance of a fire. If gun haters don’t wish to carry, that’s fine. But they don’t speak for everyone.

  • Allison Brennan

    Excellent article, John, well said.

    My college-aged daughter wants to get a gun. She lives off-campus. She is trained in self-defense and works out almost daily in a gym. I told her absolutely, get a gun, after you go to a gun range and try all the different handguns and pick one that’s best for you, and take not only a safety glass, but a shooting class. We have a few guns at home, but most are too big for her small hands. And shooting at targets out in the country is a lot different than defending yourself in an apartment or when she gets off work or out of class at night and is walking to her car.

    I also think that one reason some people have a near-violent hysteria against guns is that they were never raised around them. They didn’t learn at a young age to be respectful of the weapon, to learn to shoot, to understand the responsibility that goes with gun ownership.

    • Shane Gericke

      Well-said, Allison. People also have a violent reaction to guns because the only exposure they’ve had is through the news media, which almost universally portrays weapons as evil.

    • John Gilstrap Post author

      First of all, it’s not about what I do or don’t do, it’s about the principle. That said, I think it’s entirely appropriate to be prepared to defend oneself in any public place. As for children in schools, I need more definition. Minor children should not be carrying any firearm unsupervised. At the college level, when the “children” are old enough to serve in the military, I see no reason why those who have state permits to carry should not be allowed to do so.

      • Valerie Chandler

        I believe in:
        1. Strict background checks for all new gun sales.
        2. All new handguns should be registered, including a record of ballistic profile.
        3. No civilian should have the right to own an automatic weapon or armor-piercing bullets.
        4. A civilian should have the right to carry a handgun after strict background check and safety classes.
        5. It’s okay for schools to have a trained, armed guard on premises.
        6. If someone shoots at me, no matter where I am (home or in public), I should have the right to use deadly force to protect myself.
        7. The media shouldn’t mention a shooter’s name. Maybe if they cease the nonstop coverage, there will be less incentive for these massacres.
        8. We need to revamp the healthcare system to make it easier for people and families to get help to prevent these tragedies.
        I think that covers it. (Gun owner in Texas)

        • John Gilstrap Post author

          1. Background checks are already required. I can only speak definitively for Virginia, but separate background checks are required for every firearm purchased, even from the Internet. Private sales are trickier, and worthy of debate–so long as the rules don’t require me to do a background check on my son if he wants to buy a gun from me–or something equally silly.
          2. I’m uncomfortable with centralized knowledge of where every firearm resides. I’m fine, however, for every firearm to be traceable to its owner.
          3. As it stands, no civilian can own an automatic weapon without government approval. I believe the approval comes in the form of a tax stamp, but I’m not sure. On armor-piercing bullets, the devil is in the details. Any rifle bullet can pierce most body armor, and even some thin steel plate. If we’re talking about bullets that are specifically designed to pierce an armored vehicle, we’re in full agreement.
          4 through 8. Amen


          • John Ramsey Miller

            I am 64 years old and I have had concealed carry permits off and on since I was in my early twenties. I have never aimed a gun at anybody, even opened my jacket to show the butt. I’d a carry maybe 30% of the time, but I also know that the odds of me needing it won’t happen when I have it.

            Our society has a huge problem with weapons, but it isn’t normal responsible citizens who are responsible for them. Any additional control of guns laws will not make our society safer. We need, better mental health professionals, effectively dealing with bullying, more mental hospital beds, and education on weapons. When I was in high school we had target practice with .22s. I don’t know any of my contemporaries who killed anyone. I have known several who have been wounded and/or murdered by criminals. I have known several rape victims who wish they had been armed. Everybody brings their own perspective to this debate, and I respect them. I just want my view to be respected.

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