Is the Media Missing the “Other” Gun Story?
Since the Newtown school shootings, most of the media reports and commentary have centered on the sale of “assault” weapons — discussing past and future legislation, the number of weapons sold in this category, the gun show “loopholes” for background checks, etc.
This debate is important, but there may be another surprising development that is running largely below the radar. It has been reported (but not getting nearly as much attention) that citizens are flocking to their local Sheriff’s Office to apply for permits to carry concealed weapons. Each state has differing standards as to whether to issue such permits, but many states have “guaranteed issue” laws — if the applicant has no previous criminal history or other similar impediment, the state must issue one of these “concealed carry” permits.
What’s happening here? Why are so many “regular” citizens suddenly applying for these permits? It’s probably not to carry a concealed assault rifle (hard to do, I would think), so presumably it’s to carry a concealed handgun. The applications are reported to be running 2-3 times the normal rate, all since the Newton shootings.
Perhaps many “regular” citizens have given up hope that government can protect them. If you can be shot in a Safeway parking plaza (Arizona), a shopping mall (Oregon), a movie theater (Colorado), or a school (Virginia Tech, Sandy Hook Elementary), where will this stop? The weakening of civil commitment laws over the past two decades have put authorities in the position of not being able to institutionalize troubled people until they commit a crime.
Maybe, just maybe, many ordinary citizens are thinking that they may have to be their own best line of defense, and so apply for a concealed carry permit.
I think this is a matter that deserves more study, and more thoughtful discussion – which may result in the adoption of laws that will ease the minds of law abiding citizens. Let’s encourage lawmakers and media to broaden the discussion, thinking about the issue in all of its dimensions.