Legislature Should Not Meddle with Liability for “Fake Gun Free Zones”

I think it was a moral crime for Cinemark to create a “fake gun free zone” at its Aurora theater, prohibiting law-abiding patrons from carrying defensive guns while doing nothing to stop armed aggressors. But not everything that is morally wrong should be legally prohibited or even legally disfavored.

Still, a Colorado bill sponsored by Kent Lambert—S. B. 13-062—is not nearly as bad as the Denver Post led me to believe. The Post wrongly claims the bill “would require business owners to allow concealed-carry permit holders to pack heat or else provide one security officer for every 50 customers and face increased liability.”

That newspaper description is not quite right (or at least it’s ambiguous). The bill would render a private business “liable for damages in any civil action” if the business forbids lawful concealed carry while failing to provide at least one armed security officer per 50 people present.

Still, the bill is pretty bad, and its effect would be to strong-arm businesses into allowing concealed carry.

Colorado is a “shall issue” concealed-carry state, meaning that any non-probited person can apply for a permit and be assured of receiving one. However, Colorado law has always recognized the right of business owners to set their own policy.

The legal rules of liability have long been established, and the Colorado legislature has no legitimate business expanding liability in this case.

In the Aurora case, the business clearly posted that it prohibited the lawful carry of firearms. Any patron could plainly see that the theater offered no security and thereby created a “fake gun free zone.” But they chose to go there anyway. This was a matter of free and voluntary association.

If Republicans start the game of expanding liability for its pet causes, the Democrats will no doubt follow suit. Remember, the Democrats have the trial lawyers on their team (for the most part). I’m sure they could think up reams of statutes expanding liability for law-abiding gun owners, gun stores, tobacco stores, liquor stores, and so on. The list is potentially endless.

Vincent Carroll offers some good reasons why Cinemark should not be held liable for its failure to provide security. To me the most compelling reason is that the risk of an event like that is extraordinarily low. We cannot justly hold someone liable for an event that they could not reasonably have predicted.

That said, I think Cinemark richly deserves public condemnation for creating a “fake gun free zone,” thereby helping to provide crowds of defenseless victims for a mass murderer.

Image: Ari Armstrong’s Creative Commons Photos at Picasa

Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms Party 2012

The Independence Institute sponsored its tenth annual Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms party August 11, bringing in speaker David Martosko from the Daily Caller.

The event, held at Kiowa Creek Sporting Club, features a morning of shooting clay pigeons with shotguns followed by a barbecue with beer, mixed drinks, and cigars. See Patricia Calhoun’s write-up.

Following are my video and some photographs.

Tom Tancredo and Jon Caldara:

David Martosko:

Mike Krause:

Bobbie Ross, Brittany Zajic, and Dave Kopel:

Articles on the Aurora Theater Murders

Here I collect the links to my notes pertaining to the Aurora theater murders, drawn both from this web site and from The Objective Standard.

Yesterday I visited the site of the memorial. See my Creative Commons photos hosted by Picasa. Needless to say, it is a solemn and sad place.

I also uploaded a short video of the memorial to YouTube under Creative Commons.

Incidentally, I was not able to capture clear images of possible signage at the theater, because the police have the area taped off far from the entrance. (Also, there was significant window glare, and my 10x zoom was not nearly adequate.) So I cannot offer definitive answers about that matter.

First, let us not lose sight of who’s at fault or what the perpetrator is: Evil.

In “Keeping Crime Risks in Perspective,” I argue that “it is counterproductive to obsess about crime or to make decisions based on irrational fears about crime.” I point out, “Of the 2.5 million deaths in 2010, around 118,000 were from unintentional injuries, 38,000 were by suicides, and 16,000 were by homicide.” Although we should recognize violent crime as horrific and try to stop it, we should also keep our risks in perspective.

In “Condemn Scapegoating in Aftermath of Atrocities,” I point out the foolishness and injustice of blaming legal abortion, the Batman movies, or the National Rifle Association for the murders.

A couple of my articles pertain to general matters of public safety:

* A Modest Proposal for Theater Security (That Would Actually Work)
I propose that theaters place the following sign prominently near the entrance: “Armed, off-duty police officers who carry their guns into this theater get unlimited complimentary movie entry and concessions. Please see management for details.”

* Civilian Responses to Active Attackers
I interview my father Linn about what regular citizens can do to effectively respond to active attackers.

Several of my posts focus on firearms:

* Thoughts on the Aurora Murders and Armed Citizens
I argue that gun restrictions generally have little impact on criminals, yet they make it harder for law-abiding citizens to defend themselves from criminals. I specifically address proposals regarding so-called “assault weapons” and the capacity of magazines.

* Guns, the Media, and Contributing Factors to the Aurora Murders
I discuss what it means for something to be a “contributing factor” to a crime, and what, if anything, the government should do about it.

* Notes About the Aurora Murders, Guns, and the Political Aftermath
I discuss gun magazines at greater length, and I address a few other details pertaining to firearms.

* Correcting the Denver Post’s Errors About Guns
I respond to a Denver Post editorial regarding so-called “high capacity magazines.” I also respond to a few other matters concerning the Post‘s coverage of the murders.

Finally, while it is a mistake to strongly tie the murders to the latest Batman film, obviously the two are historically linked. See my initial thoughts about the movie and my longer review of it, “The Dark Knight Rises—And Asks Us to Rise As Well.”

A Modest Proposal for Theater Security (That Would Actually Work)

Issaquah WA Police Car - (Public Domain)There is a very easy way that movie theaters—and other public venues, for that matter—could radically increase their security for extremely little cost.

They could place a large, obvious sign right outside the entrance with the following text:

Armed, off-duty police officers who carry their guns into this theater get unlimited complimentary movie entry and concessions. Please see management for details.

The marginal cost of filling an extra seat in a movie theater is zero. The marginal cost of giving the armed officer free popcorn is what—a quarter?

Theaters could make the same offer to those holding concealed carry licenses who have undergone adequate training, but that would be tricker to verify and more controversial.

Who could possibly argue with giving cops free movie tickets and concessions?

Not only could armed officers quickly respond to any threat that arose, their presence—and the huge sign announcing it—would create a serious deterrent to would-be violent scumbags.

I think it’s about time criminals understand that if they start attacking innocent people, some of those people are going to start shooting back.

Creative Commons Image: KDavidClark

Notes About the Aurora Murders, Guns, and the Political Aftermath

Here I offer assorted reflections about the political discussions involving guns that followed the horrific Aurora murders.

I’ve written a couple other pieces on the general topic. My major article is “Thoughts on the Aurora Murders and Armed Citizens,” in which I argue that citizens with guns stop and deter many crimes and that both “assault rifle” bans and magazine restrictions do little to impede criminals but limit people’s ability to defend themselves from criminals.

In a follow-up for my own web page, I further discuss magazine restrictions, and I answer some of the Denver Post‘s claims and arguments.

I’ve had a variety of other thoughts on the general subject, so I figured I’d round them up.

Standard Gun Magazines

As I’ve noted, the term “high capacity magazine” is nonsense, at least when applied to every magazine that holds more than ten rounds. (I will grant that a 100 round magazine is “high capacity.”)

Generally, the appropriate size of magazine is the one that fits the gun. Whereas a 20 or 30 round magazine often works great in a rifle, usually a pistol functions best with a 10 to 17 round magazine, depending on the size of the gun and its ammunition. Every semiautomatic that accepts detachable magazines comes with factory standard magazines. Such magazines should not be called “high capacity”; they should be called “factory standard.” And you can know that anybody who refers to a factory standard magazine as a “high capacity magazine” is trying to score political points by clouding the issue.

It occurred to me that it might be useful to describe typical magazines for the benefit of ignoramuses who presume to write the nation’s gun laws. The standard Glock .40 comes standard with a magazine that holds 15 rounds; an “optional” magazine holds 17. The standard Glock 9 mm comes standard with a magazine of 17 rounds; I will concede that the optional 33-round magazine is “high capacity” relative to that type of gun. A standard Glock .45 comes standard with a 13-round magazine.

As I’ve explained, if we care about people’s ability to defend themselves from criminal attack, then it is very important that we protect their right to buy magazines with the optimal number of rounds, as evaluated by the gun owner. (A peaceable person should have the legal right to buy a 33-round magazine, even though that typically isn’t very useful for self-defense.)

The Smith & Wesson M&P15 semiautomatic rifle comes standard with a 30-round magazine. A rifle is larger and built for carrying around on a sling or against one’s shoulder, so it can typically handle larger magazines. Plus, this particular rifle shoots the relatively small .223 cartridge (or 5.56 mm cartridge), so more rounds can fit in a magazine.

The crew on the Denver Post‘s editorial board might ask themselves if they’d rather criminals shot a much more powerful .30-06 round, because, after all, fewer fit into a magazine.

The reasons why it’s a good thing to protect people’s rights to buy rifles that come standard with 30-round magazines lies beyond the scope of this post. Here I wanted to convey the fact that is obvious to any gun owner: an eleven-round magazine is in no reasonable sense a “high capacity magazine.” It is a low capacity magazine for most guns typically used for self-defense.

As stupid as it is to ban truly high capacity magazines, it is even more stupid—even more damaging to the right of self-defense—to ban low capacity magazines, which is precisely what the Denver Post advocates.

My note to journalists is this: if you refer to an eleven-round magazine as a “high capacity magazine,” then you are either a moron or a hack dishonestly pushing your political agenda.

Obama’s Dishonest Campaign

Our Glorious Leader referred to an AK-47 in order to argue that citizens should not be legally allowed to own semiautomatic rifles.

What’s wrong with his remarks? As Wikipedia points out, the AK-47 is typically a fully-automatic rifle (though semiautomatic versions exist). Perhaps Obama hasn’t noticed this, but full autos are subject to a special restrictive tax courtesy of the 1934 National Firearms Act.

But perhaps we should excuse the President for this; after all, he seems not to be able to keep track of guns very well.

About that .40 Caliber. . .

Jacob Sullum claims the murderer had a 40-round magazine for his .40 caliber gun. That factoid seems suspect to me.

Sullum cites a KDVR article claiming that an unnamed “law enforcement source” said that the “handgun also had an extended magazine that held 40 rounds.”

Until a reliable, named source verifies that, I’ll remain skeptical. I checked around the internet, and even called up one gun supplier, and the largest magazine I found for the Glock .40 holds 31 rounds. But maybe there’s something on the market I’m not aware of.

The Jammed Magazine

It’s a little ironic that, because the murderer chose such a large magazine for his rifle, that caused his gun to malfunction. If he’d used only ten-round magazines, he likely would have caused even more mayhem and death.

Every gun enthusiast I’ve talked to says magazines that are actually “high capacity” tend to frequently fail. For more, see discussions by John Lott and Clifford Davis.

A Victim Disarmament Guide for All Occasions

If you advocate gun restrictions—more realistically called victim disarmament laws or criminal empowerment laws—then I have created a handy guide to help you respond to a variety of scenarios.

If a criminal uses small caliber rounds in relatively large magazines, you say:

“We must ban high capacity magazines!”

If a criminal uses large caliber rounds in relatively small magazines, you say:

“We must ban large-caliber guns!”

If a criminal uses a pump-action shotgun and a semiautomatic to perpetrate a crime, you say:

“We must ban high capacity magazines!”

If a criminal uses a gun that you happen not to like, you say:

“It’s an assault gun! Ban it!”

However many restrictions fail to stop a particular criminal, you say:

“Obviously that proves we need more such laws!”

If an armed citizen uses a gun to save lives, you say:

“My the weather is pleasant today!”

If a woman without a gun is raped and murdered by a criminal with a knife, you say:

“My the weather is pleasant today!”

Alternate response, “Hmm… Maybe we should ban knives.”

Creative Commons Image: Smarterlam

Correcting the Denver Post’s Errors About Guns

On the whole, the Denver Post—along with the Colorado media in general—has done a valiant job covering the difficult and horrifying story of the Aurora murders. Honestly, I’d have a very hard time reporting a story like that on location due to the emotional trauma of it all.

Yet, while most of the Denver Post‘s reporting on the Aurora murders has been good, its writers have made a couple factual errors related to guns and offered some imprecise commentary. Here my aim is to correct those problems.

Please note that this article is quite limited in scope; for my general discussion of gun policy, see my article published by The Objective Standard.

The “High-Capacity” Magazine “Ban”

A July 23 Denver Post editorial states:

We also know the high-capacity magazine [the murderer] is accused of using would have been covered under the federal assault weapons ban. Had the ban remained in place, that magazine would not legally be available. . . . A handful of states have laws placing limits on the number of rounds that magazines can hold. Under the assault weapons ban, such magazines were limited to 10 rounds.

The Denver Post‘s statement is factually misleading. The ban pertained to the manufacture and sale of new “high-capacity” magazines (excepting police), and to the possession of illegally manufactured magazines. Pre-ban magazines remained available, though granted, they were less available and more expensive.

The ATF explains:

The LCAFD [Large Capacity Ammunition Feeding Device] ban was enacted along with the SAW [semiautomatic assault weapon] ban on September 13, 1994. The ban made it unlawful to transfer or possess LCAFDs. The law generally defined a LCAFD as a magazine, belt, drum, feed strip, or similar device manufactured after September 13, 1994, that has the capacity of, or can be readily restored or converted to accept, more than 10 rounds of ammunition. (emphasis added)

To state the point differently, two identical magazines, one manufactured on September 12, 1994, and the other on September 14, 1994, were treated totally differently under the law; it was perfectly legal to sell, buy, or possess the former, but not the latter.

Apparently federal politicians did not savor the idea of attempting to confiscate factory-standard magazines from millions of Americans. The Post, on the other hand, thinks “federal lawmakers ought to outlaw . . . high-capacity magazines,” apparently completely. How the Post envisions the enforcement of such a law—door-to-door sweeps of the homes of the hundreds of thousands of Coloradans who possess such magazines?—the paper does not mention.

The Post editorial also neglects to mention that the murderer first opened fire with a pump-action shotgun. If a future criminal uses only pump-action shotguns, will the Post then call for their abolition as well?

The Type of Semiautomatic Rifle

The Post‘s David Olinger, along with the paper’s editorialists and many other reporters, refers to the semiautomatic rifle in question as an “AR-15.”

Actually, the rifle is a Smith & Wesson M&P15, as the Post‘s Danielle Kess points out. The AR-15 is manufactured by Colt. This is a minor confusion; they are different brands of comparable guns.

Update: James Dao writes for the New York Times that the Smith & Wesson “belongs to a class of weapons broadly known as AR-15s, after the original civilian version of the rifle.” Wikipedia, on the other hand, claims, “The name ‘AR-15’ is a Colt registered trademark, which refers only to the semi-automatic rifle.” So this seems to be a case of applying a particular brand to a general category of item. As I noted, it’s a minor issue.

The Theater’s Gun Policies

Olinger writes:

On its website, Gun Owners of America, a group opposed to stricter gun laws, blamed Holmes’ ability to shoot so many people on the absence of guns in the audience.

“The gunman used a movie gunfight to cover his actions and further surprise the innocent patrons. Worse, the theater in Aurora reportedly has a ‘no guns’ policy,” the group stated. “Despite gun control’s obvious failure, the calls for more restrictions have already begun.”

According to various reports, theaters in the same chain as the one in Aurora prohibit people from carrying concealed handguns on their premises. But I have as yet seen no definitive evidence regarding the Aurora theater’s policies.

Perhaps somebody at the Post (or someone else) can track down the answer definitively.

The “Gun Lobby”

Twice the Post editorial refers to “the gun lobby” as that which “Congress [needs] to beat back” in order to pass more gun restrictions. Obviously, that’s not an error, but it is a cheap shot intended to demean rather than illuminate. A more accurate term is “gun-rights advocates” or “civil arms advocates.”

By referring to a “lobby,” the Post hopes to draw readers’ attention away from the fact that that “lobby” is quite simply the millions of Americans who support the right of gun ownership. It is also the millions of Americans who would have to live under the gun laws that editorial writers and disarmament advocates wish to arbitrarily concoct.

Those who wish to restrict the gun ownership of peaceable Americans often refer to “the gun lobby” in order to bring to mind some money-driven conspiracy (about which those on the left tend to obsess). No doubt gun manufacturers and sellers enjoy their profits, as they should. But “the gun lobby” in the sense of those who defend the right to own guns is, overwhelmingly, the mass of Americans who own guns or support that right.

But I will happily don the term “gun lobbyist” if the Denver Post editorial board will concede to being part of “the gun-restriction lobby”—or to state it more negatively, “the victim disarmament lobby.”

With such an overwhelming amount of detail to sort out quickly, it is understandable that a reporter might miss a detail or two. The editorial is just sloppy; my TOS article addresses the matter of “high capacity” magazines in more detail.

I want to end on a positive note and offer my sincere gratitude to the law enforcement officers who responded to the call, the medical teams who treated the wounded, and the reporters who keep the community informed about this horrible crime and its victims.

Civilian Responses to Active Attackers

It has been a horrible day in Colorado. All we can do is hope for physical and emotional healing for those who lived through the atrocity.

There have been a few rays of hope. Many at the scene acted courageously. Even while some in the national media disgraced themselves, as far as I’ve observed, the Colorado media has so far handled reporting of the story with sober responsibility. As far as I’ve observed, local officials and police officers handled the matter with bravery and professionalism.

The one constructive thing I thought of to do this evening was interview my dad Linn (shown in the photo), who happens to be visiting, about his thoughts on civilian responses to active attackers. My dad has assisted Alon Stivi of Attack Countermeasures Training in various training events in Colorado, the point of which is precisely to teach people how to respond to active attackers.

I thought hard about waiting a few days to release the interview; after all, right now the focus should be on the victims and their families, and doing what we can to help those directly harmed. But then I thought about the possibility of copy-cat crimes, so I decided to release the video now.

A comparison I considered is to flights after 9/11. After that, Americans just decided that they weren’t going to let hijackers have their way, anymore. I frankly think that mindset has done far more than anything TSA has done to deter would-be hijackers. Everybody knows the story of Flight 93. Now that Americans expect hijackers to try to kill them, rather than negotiate for political goals, I think we’ve pretty much decided to do whatever it takes to take down hijackers as quickly as possible.

But there doesn’t seem to have been a similar widespread mental change when it comes to on-the-ground terror. A message at the ACT web site currently states, “Duck and cover does not work. A theater full of people CAN take down a shooter and save lives. More people need to know how to prevent and respond to Active Shooters to prevent future tragedies.” That approach makes a lot of sense to me, and I hope it’s something that individual citizens, as well as law-enforcement agencies, seriously consider over the coming weeks and months. (Please note that ACT has not endorsed or approved the video of my interview with my dad.)

My dad makes several points, including these:

* Obviously if it’s possible to safely leave a dangerous area, do so (as a civilian).

* A group of people can disorient an attacker by pummeling him with objects at hand.

* With appropriate training, a few people near an attacker can take him to the ground and incapacitate him.

None of this is meant as next-day quarterbacking, but rather as an invitation to spend a few moments thinking about possible ways to respond to an active attacker, and perhaps possible ways to obtain additional training on the subject. For a given individual in the normal American context, the chances of ever encountering an active attacker are remote—and this context is worth bearing in mind—but obviously they are not zero.

Why We Don’t Need Avengers

The following article by Linn and Ari Armstrong originally was published May 25 by Grand Junction Free Press.

There’s a great scene in the Avengers film where the villain demands that a group of people kneel before him. One elderly gentleman refuses, saying he remembers what happened last time a dictator demanded the people kneel. Just as the villain prepares to kill the man, Captain America intervenes with his protective shield. The symbolism is moving.

But in the real world we don’t need magical shields and hammers, super strength born in a laboratory, or super-powered suits of armor to protect us from those who would do us harm. For we have the firearm.

Because we remain largely free, our society has the wealth to outfit our military with the best tanks, airplanes, rockets, and other machinery to protect us from foreign aggressors. Still, the basic tool of the soldier remains the rifle. The men and women in uniform serve as our real-life “avengers,” not in the sense of taking revenge, but of protecting the innocent from aggression. And they do an amazing job; the real Captain America walks among us. (Indeed, our military’s biggest obstacle is not the enemy but Washington’s policies and rules of engagement that often prevent soldiers from acting in America’s self-defense.)

Domestically, firearms allow civilians to defend themselves against burglars, rapists, and would-be murderers. Guns are the great equalizer, empowering the smallest women and those with disabilities to successfully defend themselves against the strongest criminals.

Even if superheroes existed, they could respond only to a small fraction of crimes in progress, as is the case with the police. Those at risk of attack don’t need Thor’s hammer if they have a reliable Glock 9 mm or Colt .45 and know how to use it. Notably, the mere possibility that a potential victim might carry a gun deters many criminals. And, once a criminal realizes his intended victim carries a gun, usually the criminal flees without a shot fired.

If we were to plan our own movie featuring these tools of self-defense, we might include a couple scenes based on real-life events.

Picture a lonely agricultural road on a beautiful spring day. Our heroine enjoys a lovely walk. But as she rounds a street corner, two large pit bulls come within feet of her. Just that morning she had seen the news that a pit bull had mauled a woman to death in a neighboring city. The dogs become aggressive. Our heroine draws her pistol and aims it toward the dogs.

Later she recounts, “I don’t know if they smelled the gun oil or could smell that I was fearful but determined to defeat them, but they backed off. I was shook up, and I don’t know how I would have reacted if I hadn’t had the pistol. I knew that if I had tried to run the dogs likely would have pursued me.”

Next picture a dark moonless night in the Colorado mountains. A couple pulls their car into a lonely restroom at the top of Vail Pass. As the husband walks out of the restroom, he encounters three terrified young women. They say young men in another car had been harassing them as they drove along the interstate, and they had stopped seeking help. The husband tells the women to go into the women’s restroom and come out with his wife. While they are in the restroom, three hot-headed men park at the facility and storm out of their car.

The husband later recalls, “The three men eyeballed me up and down, but I just stood there against the wall calmly. I had my pistol safely concealed, so I knew I had the ability to protect myself and the others if I needed to. My wife and the three young women came out of the restroom. My wife and I never so much as mentioned that we were armed. We escorted the young ladies to the next town, and that was that.”

If our movie were a documentary, we might interview John Lott, author of the book More Guns, Less Crime. His findings suggest that the high rates of gun purchases in recent years is nothing to fear but rather something to welcome, as armed civilians deter crime. Moreover, he finds that minorities and women tend to benefit the most when legally allowed to own guns for self-defense.

We also might interview Alan Gottlieb, author of Politically Correct Guns. He reports a variety of interesting facts. For example, gun-banner Dianne Feinstein got her own permit to carry a .38-caliber revolver. Nancy Reagan sometimes slept with a .25-caliber handgun on her bedside table. Other famous Americans to have obtained gun permits include Bill Cosby, Donald Trump, Howard Stern, and Joan Rivers.

Thankfully, civil arms are not fantasy but reality. Guns are not restricted to an elite few with special powers; rather, any peaceful citizen may obtain one (though some American cities continue to make that extraordinarily difficult). So go and enjoy the movies, but then appreciate the real-life tools of self-defense.

Manley Defends Campus Concealed Carry

Jim Manley, lead attorney in the suit to overturn the concealed-cary ban at the University of Colorado, discussed the cast last night at CU, Boulder.

Manley said that not only CU but every “public” campus in the state now needs to ensure it does not ban concealed carry. He also pointed out that Colorado’s concealed carry law generally requires permit holders to be over 21 and go through fingerprinting and a background check.

Moreover, he said, Colorado State University has complied with state law for nearly a decade, and that example illustrates that campus concealed carry simply does not generate a problem.

Take Responsibility When Carrying a Gun

The following article by Linn and Ari Armstrong originally was published January 6 by Grand Junction Free Press.

Colorado residents suffered several horrific murders recently. In one case,a man shot his ex-wife to death outside a restaurant in Parker as their two children sat inside. She was pregnant and engaged to be married. Besides the murders, two five-year-olds died from unintentional shootings.

In the wake of such horror, those with an aversion to guns may wonder why interest in gun ownership and concealed carry remains so high. Practically every day someone asks Linn (a National Rifle Association instructor) his opinion of various training programs required to obtain a concealed carry permit in Colorado.

CBS (of all sources) published a recent article, “More and more women embracing gun ownership.” We especially enjoyed a quote from Deirdre Gailey: “I’m a yoga instructor, I work at a vegan bakery — and I also like to shoot guns.”

Yes, some people do very bad things with guns. But stripping law-abiding citizens of their ability to keep and bear arms only further empowers the bad guys. Particularly in cases of domestic violence, attackers often can physically overpower their victims. Besides their sporting value, guns are extremely useful for self-defense.

Horrible stories get the most media attention. Often the defensive use of a gun results in the bad guy running away without a shot fired or a drop of blood spilled. Thus, while papers typically devote many follow-up stories to each murder, usually they give defensive gun uses little or no mention.

The ability to carry a concealed handgun constitutes an important part of the right of self-defense. It’s worth reviewing the history and benefits of concealed carry (CCW) here in Colorado.

Mesa County gun owners and officials became important leaders in the effort to achieve a more fair and objective permit process.

Former Sheriff Riecke Claussen ran his first campaign in 1990 by promising to institute a concealed carry permit in the county. True to his word, Claussen worked with different training groups to develop a permit. One of these groups later evolved into the Grand Valley Training Club (which Linn cofounded).

Initially Grand Junction would not sign off on any city resident applying for a county permit. Linn and others pointed out the problem to then-Police Chief Gary Konzak. The city even denied a permit for a firearms instructor who had certified several Grand Junction police officers for a Utah CCW. The chief conferred with the sheriff to resolve this problem.

However, while the county permit was valid throughout Colorado, other states recognized only state-issued permits. When former Governor Bill Owens signed a state-wide CCW bill in 2003, that system looked remarkably like what Claussen had established years before. See [the NRA’s web page] for a description of states that offer CCW reciprocity. We think Bill Buvinger was the last local to offer classes for the Utah permit for its validity in other states; now the Colorado permit offers the same advantages.

Colorado’s constitution strongly supports the right to keep and bear arms, though it is ambivalent about concealed carry. Denver outlaws open carry anyway. In some cities open carry may result in a conversation with law enforcement. Once you get a CCW permit, then, you’re freer to carry a gun for self-defense.

Carrying concealed offers several tactical advantages. If you carry openly, not only might a criminal target you first, he might try to capture your weapon. Criminals often are deterred when they think somebody may be carrying a gun but they don’t know whom.

Carrying a gun concealed offers protection outside the home (except where legally restricted). Moreover, if your handgun is secured to your hip, it cannot be picked up by a criminal, child, or irresponsible adult. Concealing a gun may be important especially for women, who tend to be smaller and who may have children and grandchildren to care for.

One of the debates over the CCW bill was whether to mandate training. Our attitude was that, while training should not be mandatory, if a mandate allowed the bill to pass it was an acceptable compromise. A relative asked Linn what he thought of classes that promised only four hours of instruction with no live shooting. To some surprise, Linn responded, “I do not have a problem with it.”

Don’t get us wrong: we’re all for extensive firearms training. We agree with the NRA that those who own defensive guns should take the responsibility for getting trained. Grand Valley Training Club offers over 16 hours of instruction with numerous live-fire exercises. True, in an emergency, having a gun with little training usually trumps having no gun. But don’t let it come to that: get your training before an emergency arises.

Ultimately, the goal is to prevent emergency situations. Thankfully, the more people carry guns for self-defense, the less often people need to use them. Criminals hate the thought of their intended victim pulling out a gun and knowing how to use it.

Read more about this issue:

Joey Bunch Misstates Gun Statistics in Denver Post
(The Post corrected the article in question.)

The Tragedy of Fatal Hazards for Children