Video: When open-carry is your only option
posted at 11:25 am on August 10, 2011 by Ed Morrissey
Reason TV takes a close look at the issue of handgun rights and carry permits in California, one of the few “may-issue” states left in the nation. County sheriffs may issue or deny permits at their discretion, and as the video states, they don’t usually approve applications from most law-abiding citizens. That forces people like Sam Wolanyk to carry unloaded weapons openly, which has the state legislature in a lather — and people debating the nature of the Constitutional right to keep and bear arms, or in this case, bare arms:
As most Hot Air readers know, I have a carry permit in Minnesota, although even some people in this state don’t realize that the permit doesn’t restrict me to concealed carry. I can open-carry if I like. Normally, I don’t like, although I support those who do. To me, open carry is unnecessarily provocative, plus it marks me as a primary target if, God forbid, I end up in a dangerous situation where it becomes an issue. Police officers carry openly because it’s part of their job, and if carry permit training teaches anything valuable (it teaches many valuable lessons, of course), it’s that a carry permit is not a Junior G-Man badge. I have it for my own personal safety, for specific as well as general reasons.
I’d take an even dimmer view of open carry of unloaded weapons — an unloaded gun provides all the provocation with none of the immediate defense capacity — but in this case, it’s instructive. The state of California wants to ban a practice that presents no immediate threat, conducted by law-abiding citizens with no record, that has produced no shooting incidents. Anti-gun advocates would rather waste time on this than, say, solving the massive budgetary and debt problems the state faces, as well as solving the problem by allowing law-abiding citizens to get concealed-carry permits with a “must-issue” law.
This reaches the point of absurdity near the end of the video, when the author of a bill to ban open carry of unloaded weapons,Assemblyman Anthony Portantino, tells Reason TV that the purpose of the 2nd Amendment is to protect property — which doesn’t include the person himself. That’s actually backwards, even under existing lethal-force-in-self-defense laws. People are not permitted to use lethal force to protect property in California, or Minnesota either, with or without carry permits. (Neither can the police, by the way.) They can only use lethal force of any kind when faced with an immediate threat in which a reasonable person fears for their own life or of “great bodily harm,” which roughly means losing a limb or an eye, not just getting beaten up. All the carry permit allows is the ability to have the lethal force at hand if that situation arises; it doesn’t exempt the permit holder from laws defining lethal force in self-defense. In most cases, and certainly in Minnesota, those laws require a victim to retreat first if possible rather than using the lethal force, sometimes even in their own homes.
It seems that Portantino doesn’t even understand current law in his own state. Why should Californians trust him to amend it in ways that reduce their ability to defend themselves?
Addendum (previously published but still applicable): My late friend Joel Rosenberg literally wrote the book on carry licensing in Minnesota, The Carry Book: Minnesota Edition. Unfortunately Joel passed away before he could complete an edition that looked at the issue nationally, but even if you’re not in Minnesota, there is a ton of good advice for those who want to pursue carry licenses and handle firearms. My particular favorite chapter of the book is titled, “Cowardice 201: A PhD Seminar in Advanced Staying Out of Trouble,” in which Joel reveals that the true secret of karate is to run faster than everyone else. Self-defense starts with keeping out of situations where you will likely find yourself threatened. Joel’s book is a sobering read, literally and figuratively.