Thursday, April 29, 2010

Unconstitutionally vague.....unintended consequences!

Any student of high school physics knows that for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction. For example, the exhaust gasses from a jet engine go to the rear, the plane moves forward.

Last year, in 2009, the Tennessee Legislature passed a bill that allowed persons with valid Handgun Carry Permits to carry their sidearm in restaurants that serve alcohol. This bill was dubbed the "Guns in Bars Bill" by major media outlets in the state. Governor Bredesen vetoed the bill, and the Legislature quickly overrode the veto.

That did not sit to well with the Guv, I think, but conveniently, his appointee, Chancellor Bonnyman, in a classic move of judicial fiat, ruled the statute unconstitutionally vague.

Now, the Legislature is in the throes of rewriting the law, with hopes of its meeting judicial review.

But, there is always the law of unintended consequences to contend with. We find out from the Chattanooga Times Free Press that,
"After years of lax enforcement, the Tennessee Alcoholic Beverage Commission is beginning to crack down on bars and nightclubs that have liquor-by-the-drink licenses as restaurants but in reality offer little to no food to patrons."
 It seems that Tennessee does not actually have legal "bars" in the state. The Times Free Press goes into some detail on a confusing patchwork of law and policy. It would appear that some establishments that are in fact bars, not restaurants, may be in jeopardy of losing their licenses.

So, the leftist gun-aversive dyslexia that negated last year's partial restoration of the Second Amendment may now put out of business some of those very establishments that they were trying to protect from gun toting citizens (who have had background checks done, been fingerprinted, had training, and already by law, can't drink and carry).

This reminds me of the Clinton gun ban of 1994, which coincided with the sweep of carry laws across the states. Its unintended consequence was a big boost to manufacturing and sales of small, concealable handguns.

Disclaimer: The information and ideas presented in this column are provided for informational purposes only. Gunrights, like all other Constitutionally recognized rights, must be exercised responsibly. Firearms, like cars, kitchen knives and life itself all can be dangerous. You should get professional training as part of any plan to use firearms for any purpose. I have made a reasonable, good-faith effort to assure that the content of this column is accurate. I have no control over what you do, and specifically accept no responsibility for anything you do as a result of reading my columns. Any action or lack of action on your part is strictly your responsibility.

Friday, April 23, 2010

The illogic of carry permits

A decade and a half ago, Tennessee passed a "shall-issue" handgun carry law, requiring the Tennessee Department of Safety to issue a handgun carry permit to any citizen who takes the required training, has a clean record, is mentally competent, and has enough money to pay for the privilege.

Tthirty-six states have passed similar laws. The legislatures and governors of these states have recognized that the typical crime does not occur when the police are nearby. Most crimes occur outside the home. Police most often can only clean up after the crime, take a report and start looking for the perpetrator.

While the permitting process in Tennessee and other states has certainly improved the situation for citizens, it still places an undue burden on the peaceful citizen, but not on the criminal.

In Vermont, it is lawful to carry a firearm openly or concealed provided the firearm is not carried with the intent or avowed purpose of injuring a fellow man. No permit is needed. In Vermont, citizens are not required to get a permit to carry a firearm. The State of Vermont has long recognized the right of its good citizens to defend themselves while away from home without the need of a permit.
Most of the states surrounding Tennessee do not require a permit to carry a firearm loaded in a vehicle, but require a permit if one is to carry a firearm on or about the person. If one gets a permit in Georgia, the current cost is approximately $65.00. The current cost for a Tennessee permit is $120.00 plus $85 more or less for the required training. Quite a lot of money for someone working for minimum wage, or a retired citizen on a fixed income.
The permit actually disables good citizens who desire to comply with the law, but can't afford the financial burden of the permitting process. These citizens must make a difficult choice. Take their handgun with them and risk arrest or leave it at home and risk death or serious injury if attacked.

Should a criminal be required to get a carry permit?

Yes? If you answer yes, then you have a disagreement with the Supreme Court. The Court decided in 1968 (Haynes v. U.S.) that felons would not be required to comply with any gun registration laws, because compelling felons to register firearms would violate the Fifth Amendment protection against self-incrimination.
Obviously, requiring the criminal to apply for a permit would be foolish. A felon's truthful answer to all the questions on the application would ensure denial of his application. It would also give law enforcement officers reason to believe that he was in possession of a handgun, which, for him, would be a crime. Thus he would have incriminated himself. See Haynes v. U.S.

No? If you answer no, you will probably argue that the criminal is not going to get a permit any way. He is going to carry his handgun whenever and wherever he sees fit. To him the handgun is just a tool to use while plying his illicit trade. He would be no more interested in getting a permit than a carpenter would be in getting one for his hammer and saw. Felons have been forbidden ownership of firearms since passage of the 1968 Gun Control Act. They cannot legally own nor carry a gun for any purpose. If they acquire a gun, they violate the law. If they carry a gun, they violate the law.

If the permitting process (for criminals) is prohibited by the 5th amendment and/or ignored by the criminal, what is really accomplished by the process? Clearly, the permitting process would be a wasted effort with the criminal element of society.

Is there any common sense in requiring that permits be purchased by decent citizens?
Yes? We need permits so that police will know who's carrying a gun. But, criminals don't get permits. What good does it do for police to know who the "good guys" are that are carrying a gun. This response is not valid.

Yes? We need to insure that people that carry firearms have proper, adequate training. But, police who are trained extensively have a dismal record of one shot stops. Or stops with two or three shots.
Obviously, anyone who is going to keep a firearm for protection at home or away needs training. But, states that allow unpermitted car carry do not report any significant problems. We don't see newspaper reports of "untrained Georgia citizens" mistakenly shooting someone. This response is not valid either.

No? Bingo. There is NO common sense nor logic in requiring citizens to get carry permits. The major accomplishment of the process is to supply states and nosy newspapers with a registration database of legitimate firearms owners. Is this the real goal?

Gun rights advocates should lobby their legislatures ceaselessly until permits are no longer required, as was done last week in Arizona.