In Part One of this series I explored how I went from a casual gun owner to a citizen seeking more knowledge and information about the Second Amendment, gun control and gun crime in America. I discussed how two books in particular helped me get started on this path.
Concealed Carry Permit
In late December of 2012 I became intrigued by the idea of obtaining a concealed carry permit so that I could legally carry a firearm if I ever felt the need to. With my belief that gun control would become a hot issue with the Newtown tragedy so recently occurring, my exact thought was “I better get a permit before they get outlawed”. I also wanted to have the experience so I could write about it later.
With that in mind, I went on the website of a gun store and range within 30 miles of where I live. The Centennial Gun Club is a full service facility that offers firearms and related items, a six lane indoor shooting range, and a variety of classes including the multi-state concealed carry class that I signed up for and attended on December 29, 2012.
When I showed up to class, I was utterly unsurprised to see that the class was full with about 40 people of both sexes attending. As we introduced ourselves, it was apparent that each participant was there for one reason: they wanted to be able to legally carry a firearm for self-protection. One woman described how her ex-husband was threatening her. Another older gentleman told his story of being a crime victim and his resolve to never be one again.
The instructor was a NRA-certified subject matter expert and did an excellent job. Throughout the day, we learned the basics of gun safety, the laws surrounding concealed carry in Colorado and Utah with commentary on other states including New Jersey as well.
After several hours in the classroom, we went over to the range to shoot our firearms to prove our competency to the instructor. I used the little Smith & Wesson .380 bodyguard I had purchased previously that month. It had a bit of a kick to it but I was able to get some good groupings. After this, I received my certificate of completion and now had the materials in hand to complete my Concealed Handgun Permit (CHP) application. (Other states refer to a CHP as a “CCW” or “CCP”. I will use CHP since I live in Colorado.)
Colorado is a “shall-issue” state, and CHP permits are issued by the 64 county sheriffs. Because the class I had completed was also approved for a non-resident Utah CHP, I had the necessary requirements to apply for one of those as well, once I received my Colorado permit.
On Wednesday, January 2, 2013 I went to the Douglas County Sheriff’s Office with my completed paper work and my check for $152.50 to complete the application process. The office opened at 9:00 am and I arrived at about 9:30. When I walked into the waiting room, it was full of people. I recognized several from the concealed carry class a few days before. After learning that the wait time to process applications was over 4 hours, I was told that I could go home and come back when the wait would be shorter.
After returning, the waiting room was still pretty full. At one point, Sheriff Weaver walked into the room and asked how many of us were there for concealed carry permits. Virtually everybody raised their hands. With a smile I took to be one of satisfaction, he walked back into the secured area. Later events would reinforce my belief that Sheriff Weaver is a strong Second Amendment supporter and of concealed carry for legally qualified citizens.
Once I had completed the application process and been fingerprinted, I was told that the wait time for obtaining a permit was up to eight weeks, and due to the large number of people applying for permits the wait time would be close to that. With this task completed, I turned my attention to other matters.
Within the next couple of weeks, the Colorado General Assembly session commenced, with several gun control bills on the calendar. While the debate started in the Capital, I turned my attention to gun control in general.
The Futility of Gun Control
As I rode the light rail downtown to attend the first of the hearings in the House Judiciary Committee, I started reading Howard Nemerov’s book entitled Four Hundred Years of Gun Control: Why Isn’t It Working?
In this book, former civilian disarmament supporter Nemerov describes his approach to his study of gun control:
“I want to make it clear that I do not now support gun control, but before you close this book in dismay you should know that, in the recent past, I supported complete civilian disarmament.”
“…this book explains why and how I reevaluated my position on gun control. After reviewing the history of gun control and its consequences, I concluded that in real life, gun control doesn’t benefit honest law-abiding people like you and me; instead it puts us at more risk than you can imagine.”
This book is very enlightening and I highly recommend it to those who want to learn more. The key concepts that I learned from this book are:
Gun control has been around for as long as there have been people and guns. The first gun control efforts in the American colonies were to keep the Native Americans and black slaves from owning weapons. The obvious aim of these early gun control efforts were to dislodge the indigenous people from their lands, and to keep the slaves under control. Indeed, gun control is really not about guns, it is about control.
Early efforts at gun control in England led to a firearm registry that included a prohibition on persons owning a firearm if they were unqualified to hunt. This, of course, is the precursor of the modern day argument that only firearms suitable for hunting should be “allowed” to civilians, or that the only “valid” reason to own firearms is for hunting.
Gun control advocates who argue that the government will never register gun owners or disarm particular groups have forgotten their history. During World War Two, Japanese immigrants and Americans of Japanese ancestry were required to register as “enemy aliens”. In March 1942 further proclamations were issued forbidding them from possessing firearms, radios, and other items. As Nemerov notes, “A disarmed population was easier to round up and deport to internment camps.” While the American government did not practice genocide against the Japanese-Americans in the internment camps, everybody knows what happened to the disarmed Jews and other disfavored groups in Europe. As of January 1, 2014 Connecticut gun owners are required by law to register their firearms.
Countries like the United Kingdom and Australia which have banned firearms have seen a significant increase in violent crimes, especially of a sexual nature. He also makes the case that gun control enables further erosion of civil rights.
Most firearms manufacturers are small to medium sized business. Many have roots going back to the American Revolution and before. Springfield Armory, for example, was created under the leadership of George Washington. Smith & Wesson, Colt and Remington are all venerable American names.
Some gun control politicians are also recipients of substantial contributions from law firms pursuing tort claims against the firearms industry. In a section called “Follow the Money”, Nemerov discloses contributions by tort law firms to Senators Schumer, former Senator and now Secretary of State Kerry, Senator Boxer, and presumptive 2016 Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton.
- He blasts the myth that gun control opponents outspend advocates, and how polls that purport to show “widespread support for gun control measures” are skewed by the way the questions are asked.
- He analyzes and debunks the myth that concealed carry permit holders are more likely to commit crimes because they carry guns. In fact, CHP holders are less likely to commit a crime in the states studied, including Texas, than the public at large. I’m certain this is why Sheriff Weaver in Douglas County supports armed citizens.
- Finally, and most importantly, he reviews the genocides committed against disarmed, innocent people in various countries in the chapter on the United Nations and Global Disarmament. He discusses the research of Professor Rudy Rummel who concluded “…that 262 million people were killed by their governments in the 20th century…[by their] governments legally, according to their sovereign laws…” [Emphasis mine]
It was this last point that really drove home to me what the Second Amendment is really all about. As a student of history, I knew that disarmed populations throughout history have been the subject of various persecutions, terror and genocide. Hitler’s Nazi Germany and Stalin’s USSR are the most obvious examples of this. But others abound as well. It is human nature to persecute others who are “different”, and it is the well-known tendency of governments to gravitate toward tyranny, as our Founding Fathers so well knew.
By now I was convinced that the Second Amendment was put in place to enshrine and protect the inherent right of self-defense, ensure that the people would never be disarmed, and as a deterrent to government tyranny. While I was arriving at this conclusion, the gun control debate was raging in the Colorado legislature. In Part Three of this series, I discuss my observations of the political battles that led to the passage of deeply unpopular laws.
By Richard D. Turnquist
January 8, 2014
Link to Part Three
Link to Part Four
Link to Part Five