Guns on Campus

As of the beginning of the month, it’s legal to store firearms inside locked vehicles in the parking lots of universities in Arizona.
Naturally, there’s been a small, but relatively minor, amount of PSH about this whole issue. One of the comments submitted to the Daily Wildcat — the University of Arizona’s daily newspaper — was from Brett Wolgemuth, a systems engineering graduate student who was an undergrad at Virginia Tech on that fateful day in April in 2007.
I’ve commented on a few of his sentences below:

Allowing firearms on campus under any condition is a recipe for disaster.

Oh? Care to cite historical data that would back this claim up? Police carry guns on campus all the time without any problems, and citizens in several other states (such as Utah, among others) have carried concealed firearms on campuses for some time without issues.

It only takes one incident in a parking lot, or near a car for someone to go off.

I don’t disagree. However, this is exceedingly unlikely — there’s a vast number of firearms owners in this country, and only the tiniest number of them just “go off” every year. I’d be far more concerned with someone getting mugged, assaulted, or raped in a campus parking lot.

Yes, I do have faith in my fellow man, but I?m not willing to bet my life on it.

Same here. That’s why I carry nearly everywhere I’m not legally forbidden to do so, but I digress.

The law not only allows people to conceal guns in their cars, but they do not have to have a concealed weapons permit to do it. Correct me if I?m wrong, but that would mean that anyone with a gun could come onto campus and have it concealed in his car.

That is, as best as I understand the law, correct. Considering that one can openly carry firearms just about anywhere in Arizona without any permits or background checks at all and there’s essentially no incidents of misbehavior by such people, I hardly see what the problem is. While concealed weapons permits are available to those wishing to carry discreetly, the law does not require such a permit to transport or store a firearm, even a loaded one, in a vehicle’s storage compartments so long as it’s in a holster or other similar case (so as to prevent accidential discharge).
What’s the problem?

Some of you may say that this would act as a deterrent. You make one critical assumption, you assume that a majority of people have a firearm, have brought it on campus, and are willing to use it in case they need to defend themselves.

I think that Mr. Wolgemuth is somewhat confused: the purpose of allowing the storage of arms in cars is not for self-defense on campus. Nobody is thinking that, in the event of a violent crime, they’ll be able to flee the building, run to the parking lot (almost always located around the perimeter of campus), retrieve their personal firearm, then return to be a Big Damn Hero(tm).
Rather, it’s for people who legally carry their firearms while not on campus — if the university prohibits the storage of arms in private vehicles on campus, that infringes on the rights of people who commute to school and wish to carry while traveling to and from the university.

Also, if you believe that you need to bring a gun on campus to feel safe, why would you go to a school where you don?t feel safe?

Feeling safe has nothing to do with actually being safe, as has been tragically demonstrated in various places in the last few years: Luby’s Cafeteria, Columbine, Virginia Tech, etc. The University of Arizona has even had a similar violent incident in its past. Clearly it’s been demonstrated that violent acts can occur anywhere, regardless of how safe one feels.

There is a reason we have a dedicated police department.

So did Virginia Tech. Fat lot of good it did them.
So does Tucson, but there’s still a substantial number of victims of violent crimes. I bet they “felt safe” prior to being victimized.
The police can’t be everywhere at once, nor can they respond instantly. Indeed, the courts have ruled that the police have no duty to protect someone from harm.

Although this is not a response to gun control, it inevitably comes back to it.

He’s right — gun control doesn’t work. It didn’t work at Columbine, it didn’t work at Virginia Tech, and it didn’t work at the University of Arizona’s nursing school. What makes one think that repealing a useless prohibition on storing firearms in a locked vehicle on campus will have any bearing on increased rates of violent crime?

As much as I believe that people have a right to defend themselves, I hope that people realize what this law means and take steps to rectify this in the future.

Indeed, it means that people who can legally defend themselves off-campus while in transit to and from the university can now legally store their firearms in their locked vehicles while parked on campus. No more, no less.
I’m curious what Mr. Wolgemuth has against such people, and why he wants to “rectify” this legal change when it would strip rights from law-abiding people?
Indeed, Mr. Wolgemuth’s comments make a pretty solid case for allowing people to legally carry concealed on campus — no place, even a “weapon-free zone” like a university campus, can be completely safe from crime. I, like Mr. Wolgemuth, think that the average person is decent and honest, but not everyone is, and I’m not willing to bet my life on it. There’s plenty of violent crime on college campuses, why not allow law-abiding people to have the ability to protect themselves?

On Free Speech Zones

A few commenters on sites I’ve read have brought up objections to people carrying guns to public events and mention that cases of people bringing guns to presidential events were rare during the Bush administration. They continue by saying that peaceable protesters against Bush were herded into “free speech zones” and wonder where the outrage was then.
I can’t speak for everyone, but from my perspective “free speech” zones are an abomination against the Constitution, and are a dark mark on our nation’s history. Perhaps a relatively small, easily corrected mark (( Unlike, say, major things like slavery. )), but a mark nonetheless.
During Bush’s presidency, I regularly wrote polite, concise letters to the president and my congressmen voicing my objection to such zones. Such policies weighed heavily upon me when I went to the ballot box (( I voted third-party in both of his elections. )). Fortunately, President Obama does not seem to be repeating the same mistakes, and this pleases me greatly.
I think that “zones” of that type are outrageous — there should no more be “free speech zones” than there should be “no quartering troops here zones”, “Second Amendment zones”, “no slavery zones”, or “privacy zones”. The whole country is such a zone.
Of course, there are exceptions: I don’t consider it unreasonable for authorities to remove someone disturbing a public event. For example, if someone is being obnoxious at a presidential speech, town hall meeting, etc., the police can kick them out of that event — interrupting and disrupting a speech or meeting is bad form and impolite. This is completely different than establishing “free speech zones” a distance away from the event that protesters must stand within.
Similarly, I have no problem with the Secret Service and police securing the building where the president will be speaking, prohibiting arms within that building, and inspecting people to ensure that they’re not bringing weapons into his immediate proximity.
Kicking out disruptive people and prohibiting arms within the immediate proximity of the president are not, in my view, infringements on one’s rights.
If the government starts establishing Bush-era “zones”, I’ll be one of the first to be writing to my congressman and voting officials who support such zones out of office.

On Guns and Alcohol

State Sen. Ken Cheuvront countered that the new Arizona law has more potential for danger because the state’s permit system is among the more lenient nationally.
“All I know is that guns and liquor do not mix,” said Cheuvront, a Democrat and the owner of a wine bar in central Phoenix. “They’re putting other patrons and my staff at risk by having a gun in my establishment.”

– Arizona Republic article.
Fantastic! He just demonstrated a total lack of knowledge about the law, as one of the key components of the law is that those who carry firearms into establishments that serve alcohol are forbidden from drinking. Not a drop. Even the journalists, who tend to not know much about firearms-related law, seem to get it. Why doesn’t he?
There’s another option: Senator Cheuvront is merely being disingenuous and a liar, but I suppose that goes with being a politician.

Woot.

SB1113, the restaurant carry bill, was signed into law by the governor on Monday.
After several years of attempts and being vetoed by former-governor Napolitano, it’s finally been enacted. Just goes to show what an active grassroots movement can do.

Beverage of Choice

It’s been recently reported that North Carolina may soon legalize (( I hate using that term, as the default state of rights is “on” — laws shouldn’t ever need to “allow” something, as all actions that don’t infringe on others rights are, by default, “on” unless a law exists that restricts them. )) beer tastings, bringing them to parity with existing laws on wine tasting.
My response: “Took you long enough!” The depths of stupidity that alcohol-related laws in various states plumb amaze me sometimes. What possible reasons could there be to prohibit the public sampling of various beers?
Of course, there’s always someone who has to be a downer:

Criticism of his proposal comes from social conservatives who say beer has more potential for abuse than wine.
Beer is ?disproportionately consumed in hazardous amounts,? said the Rev. Mark Creech, director of the Christian Action League of N.C., which says beer accounts for 81 percent of all alcohol drunk in such excessive amounts.
It’s also ?the beverage of choice for underage drinkers,? Creech told lawmakers.

This “[insert-item-here] of choice” logic (( It’s hardly logical. )) seems to be something that anti-rights people share, whether they’re opposed to upstanding people possessing guns, sampling beer, or other similar things.
Just as a criminal using a handgun to rob a convenience store should have no bearing whatsoever on my ability to acquire, own, and use handguns in a safe, responsible manner, underage drinkers drinking beer (( Most likely because it’s cheap and “gets the job done.” )) should have no bearing whatsoever on whether or not an adult should be able to go to a public beer tasting.
Do some people drink alcohol to excess? Absolutely. Does beer make up the majority of alcohol drunk to excess? I have no idea, but I wouldn’t be surprised if it were true. Is beer the “beverage of choice” for underage drinkers? I don’t doubt it. Even so, those claims do not matter, because we’re talking about beer tasting in licensed retail stores by adults. The law even limits someone to four (down from six) 2-ounce samples (which I find absurd) per event — that’s two-thirds of a single can of beer. What’s the problem here?
Remember, gun control isn’t about guns — it’s about control. The same thing goes for alcohol control laws.
Anyone find any other topics where “[something] of choice” was an argument used by someone trying to make or keep something illegal or restricted? What about citing the illegal actions and behaviors of minors or criminals in an attempt to restrict the actions of law-abiding adults?

The Stupid, It Burns!

I’ve posted a few videos on YouTube, including several of me demonstrating my Gem-Tech Outback II silencer on my Ruger 10/22 rifle.
Now, as you may be aware, YouTube commenters are widely known for being mind-numbingly stupid, and today was no exception. I had a commenter claim that in 45 out of 50 states, including his state of Mississippi, silencers on “sniper rifles” were illegal.
Specifically, he claims that silencers on “sniper rifles” are illegal unless one is in the “US Army Sniper School and it doesnt matter if you paid taxes and signed paper work, silencers on a sniper is illegal, other guns its different but snipers … its illegal”
Of course, he didn’t define what a “sniper rifle” was, nor did he give any sort of link to state laws that would suggest that silencers on such rifles would be illegal.
As far as I’m aware, he’s completely full of it, and silencers are legal on just about any firearm (with the payment of the appropriate NFA tax for the silencer itself) in states that do not prohibit silencer ownership. I’m not aware of any legal definition of a “sniper rifle” in any state or federal law, nor any law that would restrict the use of silencers to a specific subset of guns.
Anyone know for sure?

Restaurant Carry Passes AZ Senate

From Karen Winfield at the AZ Legislature:

SB1113 passed the Senate.
It now goes to the House where it will be scheduled in a committee for hearing next week.
We are on a very condensed schedule right now, so you can expect to see it go to the Committee (probably the Judiciary Committee), then Rules Committee, Caucus, Committee of the Whole and a Floor vote all in the same week.? It will move fast.? So, if you are so inclined, this is the time to start writing to your Representatives.
Here’s the vote on SB1113 in the Senate:
Vote Detail for Third Reading On Reconsideration
Bill Number: SB1113
Action Date: 6/16/2009
Vote Member Name
N ABOUD
Y AGUIRRE
N ALLEN C
Y ALLEN S
Y ALVAREZ
Y BURNS
N BURTON CAHILL
N CHEUVRONT
N GARCIA
Y GORMAN
Y GOULD
Y GRAY C
Y GRAY L
NV HALE
Y HARPER
Y HUPPENTHAL
N LANDRUM TAYLOR
Y LEFF
N LOPEZ
N MCCUNE DAVIS
Y MELVIN
N MIRANDA
Y NELSON
Y PATON
Y PEARCE R
Y PIERCE S
NV RIOS
N TIBSHRAENY
Y VERSCHOOR
Y WARING

Update: I can’t spell “restaurant” if my life depended on it. Also, I cleaned up some goofy formatting from the email I received from her.

NRA Appeals 7th Circuit Ruling

From the NRA press release:

Today, the National Rifle Association filed a petition for certiorari to the U.S. Supreme Court in the case of NRA v. Chicago. The NRA strongly disagrees with yesterday’s decision issued by a three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit, holding that the Second Amendment does not apply to state and local governments.

Sebastian beat me to it, but I blame being at work for being slow. 🙂

Thoughts on Incorporation

First off, I’m not a lawyer, nor do I play one on the internet. If I’ve seriously screwed something up, please don’t hesitate to let me know.

  1. After the 9th Circuit ruling, the Second Amendment is incorporated in some, but not all, states. One of these is California (when do the lawsuits start again?). Personally, I’d love to see the oppressive anti-rights laws there overturned, whether about guns or not.
  2. After the 7th Circuit ruling, the circuits are now split. This is evidently a Bad Thing(tm), and it’s likely that this issue will go to the Supreme Court.
  3. The pro-rights side won the Heller decision by a narrow margin: we got 5-4 for a revolver in the bedstand, but it was too close for comfort.
  4. After Heller, we’ve had the momentum on our side. The anti-rights groups are on the defensive. Let’s keep it going.
  5. If Sotomayor gets appointed to the Supreme Court, all is not lost: the overall makeup of the court would remain the same for the reasonably-foreseeable future. If we could swing Heller, it’s likely that the Supreme Court would rule similarly for incorporation, particularly when it’s pretty clear that gun control doesn’t really do much to prevent crime.

Honestly, I don’t see how one can argue against incorporation of the Second Amendment (or any other amendment, for that matter) with a straight face. I find the very notion absurd: the right to keep and bear arms extends directly from the natural ((As I’m not religious, I don’t believe in “god-given” rights.)) right to self-defense that any living organism possesses, why should it only apply to certain people living in a specific, arbitrary geographic area of the US?

Ignorance of the Law is No Excuse

I think we can all agree that if ignorance of the law was an excuse, we’d get a lot more people falsely claiming ignorance in order to shirk responsibility for their crimes.
However, such a policy also requires that people are, in fact, aware of the law in question.
Essentially everyone knows it’s illegal to exceed the marked speed limit on a street (though enforcement of such laws is often given a bit of wiggle room), it’s illegal to assault another, rob banks, or other such actions. Knowledge of such laws are common.
In many cases, however, people aren’t aware of specific laws — such a law may not be something that a reasonably person might expect to exist (as opposed to, for example, a law against robbing banks), or the law may have recently been changed.
For example, it’s my understanding that using lead shot while hunting waterfowl is illegal. While not exactly common knowledge outside of the waterfowling community, all the bird hunters I know are well aware of the prohibition. However, how many people are aware that the use of lead ammunition if illegal in wide swaths of California (evidently to protect condors from ingesting bullets and getting lead poisoning)? There’s a lot of people who have been shooting regular lead ammo in California for decades before the law changed — the passage of such a law is not exactly common knowledge (it wasn’t reported in the media), and many of these shooters don’t subscribe to any newsletters, blogs, publications, or other means of learning about such a law. Very few people wake up in the morning and think, “I wonder if shooting lead ammo is still legal. I should check.” Unknowningly, these people become criminals when they go out to the woods to shoot as they had for decades.
Same thing with so-called “assault weapons” in California — when the state changed the law to require registration (and eventual prohibition) of such guns, very few people complied. While I’m sure that a not-insignificant number of shooters said “Screw that.” and didn’t bother registering out of idealogical reasons, I’d imagine that most gun owners were simply unaware of the law and remain unaware to this day as nobody has made them aware of the law, and they wouldn’t ever think of checking as the concept of a ban based on cosmetic features is so non-common-sensical that the thought would simply never occur to them.
When the ATF has to split California’s gun laws into two parts because they’re so numerous, I think that exceeds some sort of threshold. The average person should not need to consult a lawyer to ensure that their everyday actions are not in violation of some law that they’ve never heard of.
While ignorance of the law isn’t an excuse, such a policy requires that the average person can reasonably be expected to know the law. With the huge amounts of laws covering the minutest aspects of one’s life, I don’t believe it’s reasonable that an average person be expected to know every single law.
What can be done? Repealing onerous, obscure, or obfuscated laws seems…unlikely. Sending citizens an annual list of laws that apply to them will simply waste money for printing and postage; even if someone did read all the laws in such a document, it’s unlikely that’d be able to read all of them before the next edition arrives. If they did manage to read them, it’s unlikely they’d understand them all or how they apply without consulting a lawyer. Any sort of simplified “Legal FAQ” is likely to leave out information that applies to some groups.
Honestly, I’m not sure how things can practically be made better without some fundamental change in the law (see the aforementioned repealing of various laws).