The Brady Center to Prevent Gun Violence has seized on the publicity surrounding the Martin case to push its agenda of “getting guns off the streets.”
The Martin shooting occurred about the same time as a federal court in Illinois was hearing a challenge to that state’s refusal to issue concealed carry permits to its citizens. Illinois is the only state that has no provision for a private citizen to carry a loaded handgun for self-defense, and there are several states, such as New York, that have provisions on the books to issue permits, but deny them in practice.
In Illinois, Mary Shepard challenged the constitutionality of Illinois laws that prohibit people in that state from carrying firearms for self-defense. She said that in 2009 she was at her church doing her duties as treasurer when she was attacked, beaten and left for dead, suffering skull fractures, fractures to both cheeks, brain swelling, shattered teeth and other injuries that she might have avoided if state law had not left her without the right to keep a handgun with her for self-defense.
The U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Illinois ruled state laws, which prohibit its law-abiding citizens from bearing arms did not violate her Second Amendment rights.
The Brady Center considers the ruling a victory, and is undoubtedly very pleased that Shepard was prevented from using gun violence.
Former President Bill Clinton has weighed in on the concealed-carry debate, saying "people have always had a right to have a handgun in their home — to protect their homes — then we've seen this breathtaking expansion of the concealed weapons laws in America moving from the late ‘90s into this decade, far — if you will — to the extreme than America had ever been on these.”
Clinton, who has had armed, taxpayer-funded bodyguards defending him for decades, failed to mention the concurrent drop in violent crime that occurred across the nation during the same time period as the “breathtaking expansion” he talked about, even in some of the most restrictive states.
A couple of bills have been introduced in Congress that aim to expand concealed carry rights nationally, so that each state’s concealed carry permit would be recognized by all other states, in the same way that driver’s licenses are recognized now. The National Right-to-Carry Reciprocity Act was introduced by Democrats, and the stronger National Right-to-Carry Reciprocity Act by Republicans. A number of states currently have reciprocal agreements to recognize each other’s permits, but there is no national standard. Opponents of the bills have tagged them the “George Zimmerman Armed Vigilante Acts,” after the Florida neighborhood watch volunteer who had a valid permit to carry his handgun when he shot Martin. We’ll leave it to Florida’s investigators and court system to determine what laws Zimmerman may have violated.
Gun control is an emotional issue with serious public safety and constitutional arguments on each side, but it’s also a tool in the game of national politics. Even if one of the reciprocity bills managed to pass both houses of Congress and land on the president’s desk, we wouldn’t expect the current president to sign it.
We like the idea of national reciprocity, but we’re tired of seeing politicians use hot-button issues to win votes without delivering results.
The Brady Center’s stated desire to prevent gun violence is noble, but we don’t follow their logic. More restrictive rules and laws will only affect the people who obey them, and they’re not the problem.
Taking guns “off the streets” by more restrictive laws would only take them out of the hands of people who follow the rules and place them at the mercy of people who don’t — and that would only give violent criminals the advantage.