Well, I haven’t. Instead I am making a more subtle point.
The perspective I bring to the table is that I live in the great state of Virginia. Now don’t go off half-cocked based on this post, but almost everyone in Virginia (whether a resident or not) who can lawfully possess a gun can open carry in most places. Again, check the laws before you do this. This is meant to be a thumbnail summary, and thus it might have exceptions that would bite you in the behind if you are not careful. But the bottom line is that the rule in Virginia is most people can open carry most of the time, as long as they are not otherwise disqualified.
You see, open carry primarily protects the person who practices it and those close to them physically. There are two benefits to openly carrying a gun. The first is obviously if you need to protect yourself, you can pull it out and do what you have to—a whole range from merely brandishing the gun, to threatening to use the gun, to actually killing in self-defense if necessary. The second benefit is the deterrent effect. A thief is not likely to try to mug a person openly carrying a gun or someone in the vicinity. Indeed, you have to think that any person dealing with a person openly carrying a gun is not as likely to start an argument and the like.
By comparison, if you practice concealed carry, society gains a greater benefit. Of course the first benefit, the ability to actually use a gun if you have to, remains intact. But now the second benefit is dissipated so that rather than you individually deterring harm directed at yourself and those immediately around you, now it is society as a whole that benefits. Now the criminals don’t know who might be armed or not. So they are less likely to commit crime generally.
For instance, a number of years ago there was a rash of tourist slayings in Florida. I remember at the time one of the causes was believed to be Florida’s concealed carry laws. The criminals reasoned that a Florida resident might be carrying a concealed handgun. But tourists, particularly from foreign countries, were considerably less likely to be armed, so they targeted the
And Florida’s policies might have led to the death of Trayvon Martin. This is because unlikely Virginia, where open carry is generally allowed, but with some exceptions, in Florida open carry is generally banned, with only a few exceptions. From Fl. Sta. § 790.053:
790.053 Open carrying of weapons.—
(1) Except as otherwise provided by law and in subsection (2), it is unlawful for any person to openly carry on or about his or her person any firearm or electric weapon or device. It is not a violation of this section for a person licensed to carry a concealed firearm as provided in s. 790.06(1), and who is lawfully carrying a firearm in a concealed manner, to briefly and openly display the firearm to the ordinary sight of another person, unless the firearm is intentionally displayed in an angry or threatening manner, not in necessary self-defense.
(2) A person may openly carry, for purposes of lawful self-defense:
(a) A self-defense chemical spray.
(b) A nonlethal stun gun or dart-firing stun gun or other nonlethal electric weapon or device that is designed solely for defensive purposes.
(3) Any person violating this section commits a misdemeanor of the second degree, punishable as provided in s. 775.082 or s. 775.083.
If I was in the neighborhood watch, like George Zimmerman, I would want to carry a gun with me, too. And I would want to carry it openly, so that any suspicious person would know not to even start a fight.
But Zimmerman didn’t have that option. He was forbidden by law from showing that gun.
Now as you read this, dear reader, the jury is trying to figure out what can be proven beyond a reasonable doubt. But let’s put that aside and instead ask what is most likely to have happened.
I have long maintained that this was the most likely scenario (and this is why I am convinced of Zimmerman’s innocence). Zimmerman saw Martin and thought that he was acting like a potential burglar. So he kept an eye on him, and so on. Martin saw this happening and he started to get worried. He thought maybe Zimmerman planned to hurt him.
Now, the best thing to do for Martin to have done might have been to call the police and all of this would have been straightened out but Martin in life when he probably was not yet secure in his manhood. He wanted to seem tough. He didn’t want to call the police. He wanted to confront it.
Fight, flight or call for help is the typical response to danger, and he chose to fight.
Now this is key to my analysis. Martin might not have been doing anything morally wrong by doing so. Maybe it was unwise. If Martin had lived and someone decided to charge him with assault, he might have been able to plead self-defense.
So Martin continued to beat Zimmerman. Zimmerman became afraid this beating would seriously injure him, or worse, and pulled out his gun and then shot him. That’s what I think happened.
Do you think that is at least close to what happened? Well, even if you don’t let’s pretend it was, because it serves a point I am making that is larger than the circumstances between Zimmerman and Martin.
Okay, now run through the same scenario with this time Zimmerman openly carrying his gun. Then, in that case, Martin might have seen the gun and when he decided between fight, flight or calling the police, he might not have chosen to fight. And if he didn’t choose to fight, more than likely he would be alive today.
Zimmerman probably could have simply removed his gun as he got out of the car. He could have justified pulling it out as a form of self-defense, effectively deterring crime. The courts recognize that even brandishing a weapon can a lawful method of self-defense and certainly beats actually firing it. But the law is written so that he does so at his own risk. I can’t guarantee he wouldn’t be arrested for showing his gun in those circumstances, and therefore a reasonable person might be afraid to do so.
But if the law was as it was here in Virginia, Zimmerman almost certainly could have openly carried his gun, and carrying it openly, leaving it in its holster might have been enough to deter Martin from trying to sucker punch him. I cannot guess what he would prefer to do, but he would have that option. And maybe if he had that option, he would have open carried. And maybe if he would have, Trayvon Martin wouldn’t have attacked him. And if Trayvon Martin hadn’t attacked Zimmerman he would almost certainly be alive today.
Frankly, to this day, I do not understand why some states prefer concealed carry. Normally in life we choose to alert people to the dangers that surround them. We purchase rafts that warn us that they are not emergency floatation devices. We buy cars that warn us about myriad risks, from the deployment of airbags to letting your oil run too low. Supermarkets put up those yellow folding signs when the floor is wet. And there are the infamously ridiculous warnings signs. My favorite was a warning on a box of fish hooks that said “harmful if swallowed.” There is no word on whether the same warning also stated “if this is not harmful if swallowed, it’s broken.” We see warning signs all the time, from the sensible to the senseless.
Now I don’t believe in outing or naming and shaming gun owners (in part because it has the effect of telling everyone else who isn’t a gun owner). But I don’t understand why a state wants to force you to keep the fact that you are able to defend yourself with deadly force a secret.
Of course there is no guarantee that George Zimmerman would have practiced open carry if he was given the chance. And maybe something in Martin’s character wouldn’t have deterred him from attacking a gun owner or maybe he wouldn’t have seen it anyway (it was dark, after all). But there can be no denying that by requiring people to hide the fact they are armed—instead of allowing people to choose—they have dramatically increased the chance of deadly misunderstandings, where no one did anything wrong, but someone ended up dead, which is ultimately what I think happened here.
I have accused some people, particularly Brett Kimberlin, of reprehensible conduct. In some cases, the conduct is even criminal. In all cases, the only justice I want is through the appropriate legal process—such as the criminal justice system. I do not want to see vigilante violence against any person or any threat of such violence. This kind of conduct is not only morally wrong, but it is counter-productive.
In the particular case of Brett Kimberlin, I do not want you to even contact him. Do not call him. Do not write him a letter. Do not write him an email. Do not text-message him. Do not engage in any kind of directed communication. I say this in part because under Maryland law, that can quickly become harassment and I don’t want that to happen to him.
And for that matter, don’t go on his property. Don’t sneak around and try to photograph him. Frankly try not to even be within his field of vision. Your behavior could quickly cross the line into harassment in that way too (not to mention trespass and other concerns).
And do not contact his organizations, either. And most of all, leave his family alone.
The only exception to all that is that if you are reporting on this, there is of course nothing wrong with contacting him for things like his official response to any stories you might report. And even then if he tells you to stop contacting him, obey that request. That this is a key element in making out a harassment claim under Maryland law—that a person asks you to stop and you refuse.
And let me say something else. In my heart of hearts, I don’t believe that any person supporting me has done any of the above. But if any of you have, stop it, and if you haven’t don’t start.
Here in PA we are allowed Open Carry everywhere EXCEPT for Philadelphia where, arguably, it's most needed.ReplyDelete
Lots of typos in this post. Need to proofread it again. Otherwise, quite on-point. If open-carry (for weapons) was the norm, there would be a lot less such crimes in America.ReplyDelete
Suppose I am a bad guy up to no good and I walk into your bank when you are there doing whatever. Whom do I shoot first?
Why, the people whose guns I can see, don't you think? You first.
It is certainly true that law-abiding folks are quite constrained these days the bad guys have free rein and are protected, no? I would not argue that point.
For something completely different--
I have been following your situation and that of your wife's since about the beginning. I wish I could help and I also wish I had something intelligent to say to advise you how to handle being the target of the harpies who are focused on your family. I don't. I would if I could. YMMV. If it is open carry for you...?
July 13, 2013 at 6:49 PM
To the poster immediately above:ReplyDelete
Yes, carrying open will -- as with, say, wearing a police uniform -- basically put a target on your back ... to SOME. However, it will be a deterrent to MOST.
As with most everything in life, you have to weigh the benefits versus the costs. I think it's reasonable to believe that open-carry benefits far outweigh the unfortunate costs.