and difficult to address. As it turns out, there is a simple fix; it’s just not the one most people on the political left envision. It involves having more law-abiding citizens carry firearms, so they can respond immediately when some madman goes on a shooting spree. This is the only fix that can actually work (in a country that produces violent lunatics), because the police cannot be everywhere at once. The quote: “When seconds count, the police are just minutes away” really captures the heart of the problem. And gun bans will NOT keep guns out of the hands of people who are willing to break the law against murder; they will only disarm law-abiding people, putting them at a greater disadvantage.
When the idea of concealed carry is mentioned around many liberals, they immediately begin imagining scenarios in which wannabe commandos with hair-trigger tempers blaze away at each other over disputed parking spaces -- or in which the would-be defender is gunned down before they can get off a shot, or killed with his or her own gun. This is all wild speculation. These gun-disdaining Lefties don't bother to do any actual research on the subject of concealed carry. If they did, they would discover that their fears are unfounded. Men and women with concealed carry permits are far less likely to commit violent crimes than the general population. They tend to make a point of being very civil. Most of them may not see eye-to-eye with you on political issues; but (outside of the voting booth, at least) they're generally responsible, well-behaved people. And they're able to successfully defend themselves against attackers in a surprisingly large majority of cases.
Furthermore, there is a large body of evidence indicating that, as the number of concealed carry permits increases in a given state, the violent crime rate actually decreases. Ever since Florida initiated the trend towards more readily-available CCW permits in 1987, when they passed the first “Shall Issue” law, the violent crime rate has fallen there; and the same thing has happened in other states that followed their lead. No doubt, various factors come into play here; but one of those factors is that criminals don’t want to get shot. In various studies and informal interviews, criminals have stated that they fear armed civilians more than police officers. If a cop catches you in the commission of a crime, chances are you’ll just end up eating some pavement, then being hauled off to jail (again). But if you attempt to rob or rape or murder someone, and that person, fearing for their life, pulls out a gun, you just might get yourself ventilated. Although that sort of thing doesn’t get a lot of play in the mainstream media (outside of Texas & Florida and certain other gun-friendly states), apparently career criminals are aware that it happens, because they say it is their greatest fear.
Anti-gun types are convinced that anyone who carries a gun is looking for trouble. But that’s simply not true. How do I know? From personal experience, for one thing. I’ve been carrying a little Glock 26 9mm on a regular basis for years now. And guess what? I've never held up a liquor store, no matter how thirsty I got. I've never shot up an elementary school, a high school, or a college classroom. And I've never gone on a rampage in the local post office, even when the line was really fucking long. (Actually, I don't carry in the post office anyway, as the Federal government frowns upon that.) In fact, I'm always on my best behavior when I'm packing, to ensure that some minor altercation doesn't turn into the O.K. Corral. If I'm going into a situation that's tense, but not life-threatening, I leave the gun at home, so that if things go south, fisticuffs & bruised egos is as far south as it can go.
Many liberals seem convinced that guns are only carried by rednecks, fascists, & other right-wing types with squinty eyes & evil in their hearts. But guess what? During my years as a gun-savvy pistol-packer, I've never stopped preaching the gospel of green energy, or promoting animal rights to anyone who will listen. I’ve never stopped supporting the idea of a national healthcare system, or raising the minimum wage. Also, I've never stopped helping stray dogs & cats, injured birds and orphaned baby 'possums. I've never engineered a hostile corporate take-over, blasted Bambi from a tree stand, chewed tobacco, or fancied country music -- except for Willie Nelson, of course....and Johnny Cash. And I've never voted Republican. (Except for that one time, when I was just a stupid kid; but that was in my pre-CCW days.)
I know all of this may sound improbable to the average weaponry-adverse liberal. And yet it's true. And I'm pretty sure I'm not the only tree-hugging Radiohead fan who carries around something more practical (and hip gouge-y) than earnest hopes for peace.
A handgun is just one more piece of safety gear and (although cooler than most!) is no more sinister than the rest. I also keep a fire extinguisher in my car, in case I ever need to aid some unlucky & highly-flammable motorist -- along with safety flares, flashlights, jumper cables, Fix-A-Flat, etc. I keep a Swiss Army knife (direct from Switzerland, courtesy of a nice former girlfriend!) in my computer bag, a multi-purpose Leatherman tool in my fanny pack, and a tactical folding knife in my pocket. Hey, guys like gear! And a gun can be part of the package, without any discernable damage to your character, karma, or general well-being.
A concealed handgun makes even more sense for a woman, who is generally smaller & physically weaker than the average man, and who has the additional danger of rapists to contend with. Pistols in the hands of would-be victims have brought many attempted rapes to a sudden & decisive end. In my opinion, when a rapist ends up D.R.T. (Dead Right There), that’s pretty much the optimal outcome. Anything that makes innocent women safer, at the expense of violent sexual predators & murderers sounds OK to me. Within the “gun culture”, there is a growing sub-culture of women promoting concealed carry to other women, led by Paxton Quigley, author of Armed & Female, and various web-based venues.
The reality is that, especially in a nation like ours, which, for a variety of reasons, seems to breed murderous psychopaths, the law-abiding citizenry will be safer if more law-abiding citizens carry an effective means of defense. And nothing comes close to the effectiveness of guns, especially for a smaller/weaker/older person defending against a larger/stronger/more athletic attacker. Guns are the true equalizers.
My freaked-out fellow liberals need to just take a deep breath -- look at the evidence, apply their usual sound logic -- and get past this misguided urge to ban the one thing that can actually make us safer.