We have created a monster. It’s swallowing up our children and innocent Americans at the rate of 89 a day. It’s ubiquitous. It’s huge, slimy, deceptive, has sharp teeth, lots of money, bullies elected leaders and doesn’t care about the health and safety of our communities. It has an agenda to make lots of money for an industry, keep itself influential and wealthy, keep everyone feeling unsafe and paranoid, and arming our country. It’s evil and the cause of a lot of death and injury. It leaves in its’ wake victims and survivors and a ripple effect that is devastating our communities. It is rearing its’ ugly head after loosening our gun laws and it’s coming into more clear focus every day.
Open carrying of guns has come into sharp focus after the man who walked down a street open carrying a rifle in Colorado Springs shot and killed 3 people, seemingly without provocation. I should say that even if someone provoked someone, there is no need to shoot them. The guns were legally purchased. Law enforcement ( or a dispatcher) allegedly did not act quickly because, as she supposedly told a panicked 911 caller, it’s legal to open carry in Colorado. Not to worry. But questions are being asked and let’s hope they can be answered in the interest of public safety.
That said, let’s examine this more closely. An article in The Trace that has picked up on some others written after that shooting incident last week-end looks at the idea of rights vs. public safety. This is the ubiquitous tension in our discussion about gun violence prevention. The article summarized a meeting held in Houston regarding the new law in Texas to allow open carrying of guns in public places but the Colorado Springs incident was on the minds of the attendees. The worst fears came out in the meeting. Residents asked many questions of law enforcement and even they could not answer them. No one seems to understand the details of the law and it turns out the law was “badly written” and difficult to understand.
That is all done on purpose by the gun lobby. When they work with their bought and paid for legislators, many nuances that are meant to confuse the public and law enforcement but benefit the gun rights extremists are stuck into bills. The result is bad bills that are as far as you can get from public safety. So the residents’ questions were right on point.
From the article:
As the meeting got underway in Houston, the law enforcement officials, seated behind a green rectangular table, did not exactly put the room at ease. “As a police officer, it is so complex,” Chief Charles A. McClelland, Jr., announced. “I don’t really understand all the nuances of the law.” City Attorney Donna Edmundson agreed. “Unfortunately,” she said, “this law wasn’t written very well. It’s not very clear.” District Attorney Devon Anderson conceded, “This is complicated.” Later, she admitted to only learning that morning to which government buildings the law applied.
It was a mother who prompted what might have been the most poignant exchange of the evening. “Most of us, as parents, have told our children that, if you see someone with a gun, run, scream,” She said. “What do you suggest we tell our children, who might be out and about without us, when they see a man with a gun, what do they do? Because they’re scared. They’re very scared.”
The DA appeared sympathetic. “That’s hard, because I have kids too,” she said, fumbling for an appropriate answer.
The mom persisted. “The main thing is, in Colorado Springs, at what moment did he become a threat? When he shot a person on a bike, a woman in her face, and a woman in her chest?”
The DA said, “Let me say this, and I’m taking a chance here but I’m going to say it: if you see a civilian with a gun in a school building, that’s a 911. That’s a prohibited place, inside a school building.” She continued, “You can carry around a school, on the sidewalk, in a parking lot — that kind of thing. But that would give me pause.”
The mom appeared dumfounded. “So I tell my child, if it’s outside a school, it’s okay?”
So what is a parent to do? What are kids to do? What are we all to do? The gun lobbyists and leaders in concert with legislators, who either believe in the deception that more guns will make us safer, or are not willing to challenge the fierce gun lobby are making us all less safe.
Isn’t the job of elected leaders to deal with public health and safety epidemics and concerns? The answer is Yes. So the parents who asked law enforcement in Houston about what to tell their children when they see a “good guy” with a gun walking down the street with a rifle have every right to ask the question. And notice that even law enforcement officers have no idea how to answer. How could they? They don’t want this either. It makes their own jobs very difficult. If they stop someone with a rifle, will that person give an officer ID or will that person shoot the officer? If you ask for ID, the gun rights folks get huffy and often challenge the officers.
There are many examples of these Texas open carriers provoking officers and then getting out their iPhones to video tape the exchange so they rile up their own “troops” or maybe challenge the law or bring a law suit. Here is just one where the open carriers claimed that officers treated them like terrorists. Good grief. This is the world of the gun rights extremists and we have let it happen. And now we are paying the price in lost lives. It will only get worse as more people believe they should be able to “normalize” open carrying in public.
We are not safer now. Anyone with common sense understands that we have created a monster. So now what are we going to do? Expose our kids to this lunacy? Not pay attention to guys with guns strutting around the streets of our cities until they actually decide to kill innocent people? Can we arrest them? Apparently not. Are they a public nuisance? At the least.
We just have to be better than this. The other night I was introduced to some young professionals who had traveled to my city from our sister city of Petrosavask,(Petrozavodsk) Russia. They asked me about gun laws here and were astounded that anyone could buy a gun and that guns were for sale on the internet. In Russia, one must have a license to buy a gun and also go through some questions to make sure it’s OK for you to buy a gun including your mental health status. Unfortunately, Russian President Putin just gave citizens the right to carry guns in public for self defense. Things are changing even in Russia. Russia has its’ own problems politically and culturally but they don’t have the rate of gun violence as that in our own country. 25% of homicides are caused by firearms in Russia whereas in the U.S. that number is 60% at least, according to this chart in Gunpolicy.org. This is a uniquely American tragedy.
We have a problem created by our own elected leaders. Fixing it will not be easy and far too late for the many innocent victims of gun violence. And no, laws will not fix all of this. Many of the folks wandering our streets are legal gun purchasers and “law abiding” until suddenly they are not. It takes a few seconds to snap and when it happens with a gun, lives are lost quickly and violently.
It’s our gun culture run amok with the help of our own leaders and the compliance and urging of the corporate gun lobby. It’s the public, unaware of the implications and the detalis of the laws passed under the radar and scrutiny they deserve. It’s deception at its’ worst and at its’ deadliest.
It’s time for a change. Let’s get to work now while we can still save lives.
12 thoughts on “Houston, we have an open carry monster”
I certainly don’t advocate the open carry of guns as your normal carry method. Concealed is a much better option but then again that is also my opinion. I feel sorry for the cops and citizens of Texas as they have too many overlapping and confusing gun laws. In my state, (Nevada) open carry is very simple. There no laws concerning it. Zero laws on it means we can do it. Also we have a state law that prohibits city or county ordinance on the carrying of firearms. That way there is no confusion on overlapping, contradicting or nuances to be unsure of. Here I see open carry of handguns quite often but I’ve never personally seen someone open carry a rifle.
Seeing as it is possible for anybody who loses their mind to walk down the street and start shooting people, I’ll keep packing a gun or two, (concealed) everyday. Call me paranoid if you must but I bet the folks in Colorado Springs wouldn’t think so.
You have an entirely different take on things than I. what if you lose your mind while carrying? And what if you are not in the exact place of someone like the man in Colorado Springs happens to be carrying? Would you shoot him because you think he is suspicious? Or would you take out your gun and start shooting him assuming you would hit him and take him out before he took you out? This is the problem with allowing anyone to open carry and for that matter, conceal and carry. Your chances are better at not being shot on the streets if no one is carrying and we make it much much harder for those who intend harm to get guns in the first place.
What if I lose my mind? How does that happen? Are you so unstable that you could suddenly become overwhelm with a desire to murder someone? If not why would you assume that I would be? As for if I’m not in the “exact place” of a murderous rampage, I’d say that’s a good thing and count my blessings. I would never seek to be in that position. As for when to shoot, it is not a guessing game and being suspicious. The law is very clear on when deadly force is justified. Also I do not “assume” I would hit something. I train everyday and am very confident in what I can and cannot safely hit.
I absolutely agree I have zero chance of being shot on the street if nobody is carrying. If you find a way to make carrying illegal and then make sure every single person follows the law and doesn’t carry either and make everyone pinky promise they won’t ever commit any violence against me then I will stop carrying too. Good luck Joan.
The thing is, your argument is circular. Before shall issue ccw laws passed, very few citizens were carrying guns in public. The argument that criminals have guns and that is why you need them yourself is specious. It’s rare for a criminal to randomly attack citizens on our streets. Most shootings happen in homes where guns are present. But now that more citizens are carrying, we are now seeing more armed citizens shooting themselves or others. If we pass stronger gun laws to keep guns out of the hands of criminals, we will see fewer guns carried by people on our streets. We can pass stronger straw purchasing laws and trafficking laws as well. I would love to have you not carry in public.
Can’t argue that there are alot of untrained folks out there carrying who need to put in some serious time in the classroom. However I find that random street crime is still common. The folks at the FBI say that a violent crime occurs every 27.1 seconds while property crimes are occurring every 3.7 seconds: https://www.fbi.gov/about-us/cjis/ucr/crime-in-the-u.s/2013/crime-in-the-u.s.-2013/offenses-known-to-law-enforcement/crime-clock
As I have been subject to both, and have yet to shoot myself or anyone I did not intend to, I’ll keep carrying.
People are just not experiencing what you are describing here. I don’t know where you live but it is mostly people who know each other who are doing the shootings on the streets.
I also found this pie graph from the FBI that states that the majority of robberies happen on the streets or highways. https://www.fbi.gov/about-us/cjis/ucr/crime-in-the-u.s/2013/crime-in-the-u.s.-2013/violent-crime/robbery-topic-page
Hmmmm. 42% occurred on streets/highways- not exactly the majority. Burglaries were more numerous on streets and highways than in other places but when the other places are combined, they account for the majority.
I live in Reno Nevada but the stats are from America so somebody is experiencing them, not just me.
Violent crime was down in 2014 for most crimes. That is a national figure so sure it is an average. http://www.cnn.com/2015/09/28/politics/fbi-crime-statistics-report-2014/ These are FBI figures.
Absolutely, violent crime has been declining steadily for quite a few years.but it still happens everyday. Also I got my source directly from the FBI. Your source was a story by CNN. Either way, my local news is reporting crime in our county every night.
It was also FBI data.
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