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Why Adopt a Vermont-style CCW Law?

17 Aug 97.

Eternally vigilant and armed: minuteman with rifle--symbol of the
Second Amendment.
Several states are considering adopting "Vermont-style" concealed carry legislation. Most of the Carry Concealed Weapon (CCW) laws in the country require citizens to first get permits. But in a couple of states, like Vermont, citizens can carry a firearm without getting permission . . . without paying a fee . . . or without going through any kind of government- imposed waiting period. There are many benefits to adopting a genuine right to carry law:

1. Carrying a firearm is a "right" not a "privilege"

The Second Amendment guarantees that "the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed." This means that law-abiding citizens should not need to beg the government for permission to carry a firearm. That would turn the "right" to bear arms into a mere "privilege." Likewise, one should not have to be photographed, fingerprinted, or registered before they can exercise their Second Amendment rights. Criminals certainly do not jump through these "hoops." The Second Amendment is no different than any of the other protections enumerated in the Bill of Rights. That is, honest citizens should not need a government issued permission slip; rather, they should be able to carry as a matter of right.

2. The issuing of permits can be abused by officials

3. Officials can "raise the hurdles" in order to get a permit

* The power to license a right is the power to destroy a right

4. Vermont has a genuine right to carry law (i.e., requires no permits) and yet boasts the lowest crime rate in the nation (9)

5. Waiting periods of any kind threaten honest people's safety. (12)

Note: Criminals usually don't bother to go through the waiting period since they don't apply for permits.

6. CCW licenses register gun owners -- and licensing can lead to confiscation of firearms

7 . Officials cannot license or register a constitutional right

The Supreme Court held in Lamont v. Postmaster General (1965) that the First Amendment prevents the government from registering purchasers of magazines and newspapers -- even if such material is "communist political propaganda." (22)

8. Citizens, even when untrained, show amazing accuracy and self-restraint with firearms

Citizens shoot and kill at least twice as many criminals as police do every year (1,527 to 606). (23) And readers of Newsweek learned in 1993 that "only 2 percent of civilian shootings involved an innocent person mistakenly identified as a criminal. The 'error rate' for the police, however, was 11 percent, more than five times as high." (24)

1. David Kopel, "Trust the People: The Case Against Gun Control," [Cato Institute] Policy Analysis 109 (July 11, 1988): 25-26.

2. Supreme Court of Indiana, Kellogg v. City of Gary, 1990.

3. Joseph McNamara, Safe & Sane, (1984): 74.

4. Peter Finn, "FBI Stops Checking Va. Gun Applicants," The Washington Post, 12 July 1996.

5. In a court hearing to have the license returned, the judge in the case admitted that the individual did not meet the criteria for a revocation (i.e., he had never engaged in acts of violence or made threats of violence) but agreed to uphold the revocation anyway. The justification the judge gave was that the abortion issue was "a volatile one" and people involved in it should not be allowed to carry guns. A friend of the "defendant" made a routine inquiry to the sheriff's department to see if any abortion doctors or activists had their licenses revoked. By Oregon law this is public information. He was immediately visited by four FBI agents who demanded to know the reason for the request. Statement by Kevin Starrett, Oregon Representative for Gun Owners of America, August 21, 1995.
6. North Carolina, Pennsylvania and Virginia are just three examples where local newspapers have printed the names of concealed carry permit holders.

7. Kopel, "Trust the People," at 26. 8. U.S. News & World Report, (17 January 1994):


9. Morgan Quitno Press, Crime State Rankings 1996, at iv.

10. John R. Lott, Jr. and David B. Mustard, "Crime, Deterrence, and Right-to-Carry Concealed Handguns," University of Chicago, (13 July 1996). See also Lott, Jr., "More Guns, Less Violent Crime," The Wall Street Journal (28 August 1996).

11. See supra note 9.

12. Any waiting period -- whether the wait to buy a gun, or the wait to get a carry permit -- can have disastrous consequences. While most of the examples listed here relate to gun purchase waiting periods, the principle is the same. Waiting periods put one's rights on hold; and when one is in immediate danger, the result can be death.

13. Senate, "Handgun Violence," at 107, citing Novae Russkae Slovo, Vol. LXXII, No. 26.291, (6 Nov. 1983).

14. Stephen Singular, Talked to Death: The Murder of Alan Berg and the Rise of the Neo-Nazis, (1987): 137-138. Since he was shot from behind, one could possibly argue that a gun might not have helped him. Of course, had Berg received a carry permit, one can never be sure if his being armed would have served as a deterrent to the killer, who had stalked him for some time. Regardless, the point is that he should have been able to defend himself.

15. Congressional Record, 8 May 1991, pp. H 2859, H 2862.

16. Jonathan T. Lovitt, "Survival for the armed," USA Today, 4 May 1992.

17. Wall Street Journal, 3 March 1994 at A10.

18. On August 16, 1991, New York City Mayor David Dinkins signed Local Law 78 which banned the possession and sale of certain rifles and shotguns.

19. John Marzulli, "Weapons ban defied: S.I. man, arsenal seized," Daily News, 5 September 1992.
20. David Kopel, "Trust the People: The Case Against Gun Control," [Cato Institute] Policy Analysis 109 (July 11, 1988):25.

21. Jay Simkin, Aaron Zelman and Alan M. Rice, Lethal Laws: "Gun Control" is the Key to Genocide, (Milwaukee: Jews for the Preservation of Firearms Ownership, 1994).

22. Lamont v. Postmaster General, 381 U.S. 301, 85 S. Ct. 1493, 14 L. Ed. 2d 398 (1965).

23. Kleck, Point Blank: Guns and Violence in America, (1991):111-116, 148.

24. George F. Will, "Are We 'a Nation of Cowards'?," Newsweek (15 November 1993):93.

Chris W. Stark

Gun Owners of America - Texas Representative

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Why Adopt a Vermont-style CCW Law?
Gun Ownership is Like Yelling Fire in a Crowded Theater.

Battle Flags, Etc.

Gun Ownership is Like Yelling Fire in a Crowded Theater.
Eternally vigilant and armed: minuteman with rifle--symbol of the Second Amendment.
> This (assault weapons )ban does not infringe on the Second Amendment
> right to keep and bear arms any more than the prohibition
> against shouting "Fire!" in a crowded theater infringes on the
> First Amendment's right to free speech.

Maybe that's actually true.

The word "fire" is constitutionally protected by the first amendment both in speech and press. It is further protected by the 10th amendment in that the federal gov't has been enumerated no power to ban the word fire, and therefore they doubly cannot outlaw, ban, control, regulate, etc the word "fire."

Furthermore, the word "fire" is constitutionally protected even in the theater. The government has no authority to ban the knowledge or use of the word fire where ever it may be needed, wanted, or used simply for the heck of it.

Additionally, the word "fire" may be yelled in the theater, and is constitutionally protected speech in those cases where there is an actual fire and yelling "fire" is the only way to warn the innocent in a theater or even in a police station, courthouse, DC, etc where the word "fire" has been banned by a properly posted sign stating that those familiar with the word may not use there.

The only thing the government--and not even the federal gov't, because they have been enumerated no powers regulating speech in theaters or anywhere else, except maybe for libel--can outlaw is that use of the word "fire" which may bring harm to innocent people, that is, the gov't may outlaw the abuse of the word if it brings harm to innocent people.

The conclusion for the word "fire" is that the gov't may ban the abuse of the word "fire," but may not in any way restrict or regulate it's use any otherwise. Particularly, the government may not restrict or regulate the word fire in hopes of preventing some yet uncommitted theatre atrocity.

In perfect analogy to "fire," guns are constitutionally protected and may not in any way be infringed, regulated, banned, etc. What is regulatable is the harming of innocent people, whether it be by the word "fire!" or "fnortis bitootsbic!," or by a gun or a rock.

The final conclusion is that gun ownership and free speech go hand in hand, and, yes, firearms ownership is like the word fire.

David C. Treibs

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Why Adopt a Vermont-style CCW Law?
Gun Ownership is Like Yelling Fire in a Crowded Theater.