Wednesday, April 25, 2007
Reasonable Concealed Weapon Laws?
What would I consider a reasonable middle ground for folks who want to ban all handguns, and those who advocate that everybody should be issued one at birth?
To get a concealed handgun license that would be good anywhere in the country:
You must be willing to undergo an FBI background check that shows you are not a convicted felon, looney tunes, a known drunk, drug addict, or underage; that you are a citizen in good standing of the USA, and the state and county in which the application is filed. And, yes, you should have to pay for it.
If you don't fulfill those qualification, the process stops there.
If you qualify that much, then you must present yourself to the local law enforcement agency in charge of issuing CWL's -- they'll have access to a shooting range -- and you must demonstrate the following :
A knowledge of the local and state laws concerning concealed carry, use of lethal force, and when one may legally pull a weapon and use it.
A knowledge of the safety rules of gun handling.
These can be on a written test or an oral one; written would be better.
You get any of this wrong, no license, the process stops.
For the practical aspects:
You must demonstrate to the law enforcement range officer the ability to remove and replace a sidearm from whichever appliance or appliances you might use to carry it concealed -- holster, purse, belly pouch, backpack, briefcase, pocket, whatever -- without shooting yourself or bystanders accidentally.
You must be able to demonstrate how the weapon works -- how it loads, unloads, is made safe and ready to fire.
You must be able to actually shoot the weapon and hit something with it. This doesn't need to be the full-house tactical match at the IPSC national championships -- the old FBI saying is "Three feet, three shots, three seconds," so you don't have to drive tacks at twenty paces.
For my tastes, the shooter would have to be able to fire a magazine or cylinder's worth of ammo at a standard cardboard silhouette at combat distance -- call that twenty-one feet -- and keep them on on the target.
That's minimal. You don't need a two-inch group, but if you can't hit something that big at that range consistently, you ought not to be walking around armed. And that includes police officers.
Failure at any of the practical aspects, especially the safety part, and you don't get the license.
Is this more restrictive than a lot of shooters would like? Yes. But if you can pass the tests, then you should be able to carry your gun wherever you wish -- me, I'd include jets, post offices, and schools, since those seem to be particularly dangerous places, but I don't think that's ever going to happen. And if it was good enough for the great state of Wyoming, it ought to be good enough for the great state of New York, so reciprocity between the states.
This wouldn't satisfy the hardcore anti-gun crowd, of course, nothing will, but I think it would go a long way to convincing most reasonable folks that the legally armed among us were at least schooled in the necessary basics.