I must admit I was shocked when I returned to my home state of Texas during part of my spring break. A popular bill had been introduced in the Texas state legislature which, if passed, would give citizens the right to carry concealed weapons. Such a law appeared ludicrous to me. Such a law could only be the product of the cowboy-redneck which still pervades the small minds of my fellow Texans. I thought with typical Harvard arrogance.
Yet just such a "right to carry". Law has already been passed in 34 states in this country. In addition, the cosponsor of the bill in the Texas House of Representatives is an African American Democrat who represents inner city Houston. The political dynamic of such legislation began to intrigue me in its bipartisan, multiracial support-support that transcended petty racial, political, and economic prejudices.
After a couple of days to breathe the fresh air of common sense, I began to recognize that my initial shock was nothing more than a symptom of the liberal bias which routinely infects students at Harvard. The "right to carry" law is an important step in empowering the individual citizen, thus increasing freedom from crime and decreasing dependence on the government.
The Texas gun law would work much like current laws which cover the use of motorized vehicles. Every citizen who wished to carry a gun would be required to pass a twelve-hour training course and then pay a fee to obtain a license. In the current Texas political climate, it appears that the bill will pass both the House and Senate. Governor Richards is expected to veto the bill; a legislative override is possible but not certain.
However, a failure of the bill in Texas should not reflect poorly on the gun law's viability or merit. Texas politics are unique, but the fact that 34 states currently have "right to carry" laws on the books offers a compelling reason to consider it carefully. The law also enjoys bipartisan support across socioeconomic lines; it should not be dismissed lightly as a ridiculous ploy of the National Rifle Association.
The reasoning behind such legislation is quite simple--and quite persuasive. The only people who are allowed to carry guns legally are Police officers if everyone were to comply with the law, then this system would work perfectly, as their would be no criminals and hence no need for police. The ugly truth of the matter is that many Americans carry guns illegally for criminal purposes Criminals, For the police, possess power because they carry weapons. This leaves one important group powerless-respectable. Law abiding private citizens.
The argument for the "right of carry" was eloquently stated by a China go resident who had recently been arrested for illegally carrying a hand gun for sell defense. "We have a saying on the street we'd rather the police catch us with it than the other guys catch us without it." In a country of criminals who disregard others right, honest citizens are left defenseless.
As crime has increased, the power of the law-abiding citizen has dwindled, diminishing individual freedom. Raymond Kelly, the New York City police commissioner, explained this distressing phenomenon in a speech earlier this year. "The fight against crime in America...is now essentially a fight for freedom. Fearing crime, or being one of its victims, is to lose a fair measure of freedom."
It is now time for the most powerless in society to join this fight. Those who obey the law must tilt the law to their advantage, minimizing the excessive power of criminals and police officers.
Unfortunately, the typical debate about crime and gun control often resorts to a dichotomy between the decrease of criminal power and the increase in police power. The two most prevalent solutions offered to assuage the rising crime rate fail to recognize the only real solution empowerment of the individual.
Many conservatives want to decrease crime by increasing the size of police forces, bolstering police resources, and giving police greater legal license to enforce the law. They seek to increase the police's ability to protect the right of citizens. However, a police force which would have near. Orwellian power over individuals in the community. A government controlled police state would preserve freedom at the cost of freedom. Such a prospectus perhaps funk, but it is not satisfactory.
Many liberals support the fashionable solution of gun control However, any restriction on the ownership of weapons only functions to protect Merely outlawing all guns is neither practical not just No matter how many gun control laws are passed, criminals will still obtain weapons In addition, since even the staunchest firearm restriction does not completely trample on the Second Amendment simple handguns will always remain legal to obey the all laws in acquiring weapons, they would still be able to carry handguns And, if I'm not mistaken, even simple handguns are deadly. Nothing is more frustrating than legislation which continues to hurts the very people it proclaims to help.
Both the conservative and liberal solutions attempt to solve the crime problem by making individuals dependent on the government for the protection of their rights. The proper solution is to empower the individual instead of furthering that dependence.
The "right to carry" would accomplish this empowermet quite swiftly by extending the Second Amendment from the home to the streets. All Americans have the right to "bear arms" in their own homes. If citizens never left their homes, then perhaps such a right would be adequate. But since most Americans have legitimate reasons to leave the sanctity of their abodes, the right to "bear arms" should be expanded to ensure freedom outside the house.
The "right to carry" can only increase this fundamental freedom. The enduring wisdom of the Second Amendment stems from its link between the protection of freedom and the power of the individual. The government should increase each citizen's power as much as possible in the effort to increase individual freedom. We should all rejoice, not scoff, at the efforts of Texans and other Americans who are working to empower responsible individuals in a society which intinctively craves solutions of further dependence.