Gun Control Made Simple (And would you like a concealed carry permit good in 30 states?)
A few days ago, sitting in the comfort of my home, I qualified for a permit to carry a concealed firearm in approximately 30 states.
The permit for which I qualified is issued by the state of Virginia, which is so generous in its dispensation of this privilege that I am not required to even live there to qualify. In fact, I don’t even have to visit. And while several family members do live in the Virginia suburbs of Washington, D.C., I have never been a resident of the Commonwealth myself.
Equally remarkable, other than an email address, I did not have to provide any other verifiable personal information. No social security number, no driver’s license or passport number or facsimile, no fingerprint, no honorable discharge certificate from the U.S. military.
I did, however, have to promise that I have not been deemed mentally ill by a court of law, that I am not a user or distributor of illegal drugs, that I do not have a restraining order issued against me, that I am not a felon, that I was not dishonorably discharged from military service, that I have not been convicted of domestic abuse and that I am telling the truth. I was also asked to confirm that I will use my firearms responsibly.
All this the Commonwealth of Virginia graciously apparently accepted at face value. If only the IRS were so trusting.
Then I watched a 30-minute gun safety video and took a 10-question test. The rigor of the test is demonstrated by this actual, true-or-false question: “Before cleaning your firearm you must be sure it is unloaded.”
I did not actually obtain the proffered permit, for two reasons. First, I don’t currently have any firearms, and second, the website (one of many) extending Virginia’s generosity to me wanted $65 (and $9 more for a hard copy in the mail if, I guess, I don’t have a printer).
I share all this as yet another example of how ludicrously relaxed our gun laws are, and because a bill called the Concealed Carry Reciprocity Act (H.R. 38, a foreboding bill number if there ever was one)—has been passed by the House and is now before the Senate Judiciary Committee. The act would allow anyone with a concealed carry permit from one state to carry their weapon in any other state that allows concealed carry.
What that means is that any wife-beating, drug-addled, mentally ill felon from some state where you can buy firearms at gun shows without a background check (there are 40 of them), could acquire a concealed carry permit from the state of Virginia to go with his anonymous gun, and enter any of 30 reciprocating states (but not California) packing hidden heat. With a permit.
That makes almost as much sense as the brilliantly named Hearing Protection Act, a House bill to liberalize purchase of firearm suppressors (what the movies call “silencers”). While suppressors don’t actually silence gunshots, they do make them dramatically quieter and harder to locate. Which is why almost all law enforcement agencies are opposed to them. The bill hasn’t moved to a floor vote because passage has twice been interrupted by mass shootings during which an aggregate total of 76 people were killed.
I am not a gun hater. I enjoy shooting firearms. I understand their appeal. And I understand the feeling of almost omnipotent power they impart. We’re a culture somewhat addicted—directly and metaphorically—to the power of the gun.
I also know that the manufacture of guns and ammunition in the U.S. is a $13.5 billion annual industry; that gun stores bring in an additional $3.5 billion a year and that something over 263,000 full-time jobs are related to the firearm industry.
But here’s the math that really counts to most Americans: 30 people are killed every day in this country by guns. Since Sandy Hook, when 20 first-graders and six adults were killed, there have been at least 239 school shootings with 138 deaths. Turning schools into armed fortresses is not economically, culturally, politically or commonsensibly possible.
So let’s get serious about the root of the problem: Let’s listen to the kids who sometimes see things in glorious simplicity (see the stories starting on page 44. Let’s create better control over guns. You need a license to drive. Why shouldn’t you need a license to own and use a gun? Any gun and every gun. Really. It’s that simple.
David Bolling, Editor & Publisher, Valley of the Moon Magazine
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