Matt Gurney: How not to make the case for concealed-carry of handguns
Matt Gurney from Post Media did an excellent article on concealed carry and the way in how we should and should not make the case for it in Canada. It’s nice to see the topic is being brought up in the mainstream here in Canada as Canadians have become sick and tired of always being a victim.
“Yes, I ordered the pizza. But I still want to know what gives you the right to ring my doorbell at this ungodly hour.”
I was rushing to make a lunch appointment on Thursday when I bumped into a young man heading the opposite way. He wasn’t paying attention to where he was going, focusing instead on his iPhone. We collided with some force, and he mumbled a quick apology before heading on his way.
This, obviously, proves I should have been carrying a compact .45 semi-auto loaded with 7+1 JHP rounds on me. He’d have been in hell for 30 seconds before he knew he was dead. I have a right to self-defence.
I’m kidding, in case you hadn’t gathered. But if it sounds over the top, know this — it’s only a slightly exaggerated version of a bizarre story out of Calgary, where our sister paper The Calgary Herald ran a letter to the editor from a Mr. Wawra, of Kalamazoo, Michigan, who identifies himself as a 20-year veteran of the local police force.
In his letter, Mr. Wawra recounts a terrifying encounter with two young men in Calgary, during which Mr. Wawra and his wife were stopped and … asked if they’d been to the Stampede. Twice. “I speculate they did not have good intentions when they approached in such an aggressive, disrespectful and menacing manner,” Mr. Wawra explains. “I thank the Lord Jesus Christ they did not pull a weapon of some sort, but rather concluded it was in their best interest to leave us alone.”
Mr. Wawra has been subjected to a barrage of Internet mockery since his bizarre comments were picked up by several U.S.-based websites and Twitter. Beyond saying that the mockery is deserved, I won’t add to it.
But it’s still fair to address the substance of Mr. Wawra’s complaint — that free citizens, in Canada as much as the U.S., should be able to carry a personal handgun for their own defence. There is merit to that statement. It’s simplistic to simply declare that more handguns in a society would make it safer for the law-abiding citizens to go about their business in peace. But should I ever find myself in a movie theatre or lecture hall with a deranged madman set on racking up a high kill count, I’d rather one of us poor statistics-waiting-to-happen be packing heat than hope the shooter has lousy aim and a limited supply of ammunition. Until society thinks up a way to totally eliminate such mass shooting events, you can’t blame me for wishing I’d have a way to shoot back.
But proponents of concealed carry need to offer some reasonable assurance that concealed carry laws won’t result in idiots with more firepower than brains blowing each other away. There are entirely reasonable and legitimate arguments to be made for allowing properly trained and vetted citizens to carry a concealed handgun in public. But those arguments always stumble over an equally legitimate counterpoint: that putting more guns out onto the streets will result in people double-tapping each other over fender-benders, high-stakes sporting events or — just to pluck an example out of thin air — random encounters with talkative strangers in a park.
It would be possible to design a system of background checks, psychological screening and firearms training that would be (mostly) effective at keeping handguns out of the hands of the macho, the short-tempered or the unstable. But one would like to think that police officers who have presumably been screened and trained in firearm safety would know that talkative strangers need not be confronted with a gun. In this case, they’d be disappointed.
Mr. Wawra has thus given ammo (pun not intended, but acknowledged) to those who’d argue that concealed carry is more trouble than its worth because even screened and trained individuals may reach for the gun first and think much, much later. I don’t think they’re right. But thanks to people like Mr. Wawra, I think they’d win the debate.