Who Shouldn’t Carry a Gun?

Even as you read the headline, it kinda grabbed you, and then made you stop and think, right? I mean, here at TTAG, most of us are unashamedly, unabashedly pro-gun. But despite what professional tr0lls/liberal gadflies/resident Progressives MikeB302000 and Magoo seem to think, we’re not “gun loons” ’round these parts, and we acknowledge that there are some people who really shouldn’t carry a gun. A effective way to determine if someone is pro-gun rights or pro-gun “control” is to look at their default position on the issue . . .

If you believe that “everyone should carry, except ______” (fill in the blank) you probably identify with the pro-gun rights camp. Conversely, if you default posture is “nobody should carry, except ______” (ditto), then you likely see yourself more comfortable with those that see “gun control” as the solution. So to help our more Liberal readers better understand where the rest of us are coming from, I thought we’d explore who we (as pro-gun rights supporters) believe should not carry a gun.

When debate goes from “the open and free exchange of ideas” to “oh YEAH?! We’ll YOU’RE an illiterate DOUCHBAG and you wouldn’t know a sentient thought if it bit you on your ass!” it’s time for everybody to take a chill pill and relax. When the debate reaches that level of hostility, nobody’s listening to the other side, and we accomplish nothing. And the debate over the private ownership and carry of guns, be it concealed or open carry has gotten a little heated lately. But oddly enough, when we stop yelling at each other, I think there may be (a few) areas of agreement, where we might (at least) acknowledge that we can see eye-to-eye. In that spirit, here’s my annotated list of who pro-gun advocates believe should not carry a gun.

  1. Criminals. Yep. Surprised? I think we can all agree on this one. If someone means to do another person harm, or expects to use a gun to force others to bend to their will, that’s universally a bad thing. But it’s not that simple. We have laws that forbid known criminals (defined as those with a criminal record in our courts system) from even being around guns. So how is it that criminals keep getting guns? Aye, there’s the rub. You see, while we all can agree that it’s bad for criminals to have guns, we diverge, sharply, on how to keep the guns away from criminals. Problem #1, criminals don’t obey the law. (It’s, um, how they became criminals in the first place.) So passing any law that regulates guns is likely to be ineffective, since they’ll ignore it anyway. Pro-gun rights advocates realize this, and realize that penalizing law-abiding citizens and stripping them of their rights is no solution. Those on the other side of the fence believe that our rights to own guns for self-defense are trumped by the public’s right to safety, and we should be willing to give up our 2nd Amendment rights in order to crack down on crime.
  2. Mentally Ill. Do I think Jarred Lee Loughner should have been able to buy/own/carry/use a gun? Of course not. Ditto for anybody that goes around threatening people, someone who’s obviously a threat to him- or herself and others, et cetera. Crazy people and guns don’t mix. But (as you might suspect) there’s a problem. Where’s the line? How crazy is crazy enough? And to get right down to brass tacks, how can we tell the merely eccentric but harmless people from the ones who are next week’s mass murderers? Until/unless science perfects some kind of “Minority Report” thingy that can predict the future, there’s literally no way to tell. And if you have laws that would deny someone their Constitutional right to keep and bear arms on the basis that you think they might do something bad, where does that stop? Wouldn’t you be able to throw them in jail then, on suspicion of being up to no good? Who gets to decide? Nope. As much as all of us would like to stop the next Columbine, Virgina Tech, or Arizona Strip Mall shooting before it happens, gun rights folks realize that this is a very slippery slope, and no law you pass will ever be effective at stopping crimes before they are committed. Those on the other side take a different view, again being willing to compromise the rights of the many to try and keep a very few from harming others.
  3. Children. Every so often, you look at the news to see some child has found a gun, played with it, and the result is a tragedy. Somebody (the child, another child, an adult) stood in the way of the bullet, and was killed. I wrote that preceding sentence in the passive voice on purpose, because the “gun control” crowd seems to think it’s the gun’s fault, when something like this happens. It wasn’t an irresponsible adult’s fault. It wasn’t the fault of a child who didn’t know better, was too young to understand the consequences, or hadn’t been taught gun safety. Nope. it’s the gun’s fault. On the pro-gun rights side, we understand that when you act in a careless and irresponsible manner, eventually Murphy’s Law is gonna catch up to you. Realistically, I think it should be left up to parents to teach their children gun safety, largely because some kids mature faster than others. Take two thirteen-year-olds. One may have grown up around guns, been hunting since they were in elementary school, be a good shot, and very mature for their age. The other’s never handled a gun, only knows what they’ve seen in the movies, and thinks that actions and consequences are two, totally-unrelated things. Would you keep a gun out of the hands of the first child, just because the second one shouldn’t have one? What if the first child lives on a ranch, rides fence, and needs to carry a gun for protection from coyotes and other predators? Back when my parents were in school, it wasn’t at all unusual to see gun racks in the back of the family truck in school parking lots. Nobody thought a thing about it. Today, the same thing would result in a SWAT-worthy incident, with national TV coverage.
  4. Old People. This is a tricky one. My dad died last year, at age 84. In his final months, he was too weak and infirm to be able to do much, much less hold and fire a gun. But when he was 83, I took him to the range a couple of times, and he did quite well, firing both his shotgun and his .38 Special revolver. Hit the target center-mass and everything. Pro-gun folks see 2nd Amendment rights as a “shall not be infringed” kinda thing. Anti-gun people see problems, and look at laws as all-purpose solutions. For those who think licensing is the answer, riddle me this, Batman – how many old people do you see behind the wheel of a motor vehicle, where you think “They shouldn’t be driving.” Yet, they hold valid driver’s licenses. It would be nice, perhaps, if the law could protect us from stupid stuff. But as commedian Ron White says, “You cain’t fix stupid.” And you can’t legislate it out of existence, either.
  5. Angry, Abusive People. We know the types. We’ve all heard the stories. Some woman leaves her abusive husband, and he comes after her. She gets a restraining order against him. It doesn’t work. He shoots her and sometimes then turns the gun on himself. Should this kind of guy have a gun? What about the employee who is uncooperative, creepy and downright scary? You know, the one who gets terminated, leaves work, comes back with a shotgun and takes out his boss and anybody else who done him wrong? Yeah. THAT guy. Should he have a gun? In retrospect, of course not. But how do you tell in advance? For if you passed a law that, say, disarmed someone who threatened another, or was perceived to be a threat to others, how would that work, exactly? And how would you disarm them? Give them a police escort? Confiscate their guns? How effective would/could that be? You see, pro-gun people realize that the world is an imperfect place and there’s nothing the law can do to fix that. Anti-gun people believe that the law can make the world (more) perfect.
  6. Idiots. Yep. They do exist. You know, the people that think the laws of physics don’t apply to them. The Jackass crowd that never see guns as something to be treated with respect and care. THOSE guys. But how do you keep guns out of the hands of people too irresponsible to handle them safely? The pro-gun camp advocates things like “common sense” and “training.” The anti-gun camp goes with “ban them,” “license them,” and “force them to get extensive, expensive training.”

Now if we were going to tell this story from the point of view of a “gun control” advocate, the question would be reversed. “Who SHOULD Carry a Gun?” for them, anyway, is an easier question to answer.

  1. Law Enforcement Officers (on-duty only). No argument from our side.
  2. Military (on-duty, and only when defending our country, preferably in some other country). Gotta diverge on that one. If our military were allowed to carry guns when they are on base (as opposed to treating military bases as giant ‘gun-free zones’) the tragedy of the Islamic Fundamentalist Doctor who shot up the Fort Hood down in Texas would have had a much shorter, much less lethal story arc.
  3. Public Figures/Rich n’ Famous/their bodyguards. I’ve got no problem with that. I do have a problem, though, when they preach against gun ownership, but feel it’s okay for them to own/carry guns, but the rest of us should go unarmed.

So let’s see if we can define the problem and stop with the outsized rhetoric. On both sides. We can agree that some people shouldn’t (and some people should) have access to guns. That’s not generally where we disagree. It’s on how to prevent the wrong people from having guns where we disagree. And frankly, I don’t see anything that’s gonna change that. You either see the 2nd Amendment as an inalienable right, or you don’t. You either acknowledge that laws and the police cannot protect people in every instance or you don’t. And you either see self defense as something that’s a reasonable compromise or you don’t. And it really is that simple.

comments

  1. avatar David says:

    I recently went to WalMart and was surprised by the gentleman entering the store in front of me. He was on a walker and was open carrying. Don’t know if he was incompetent to carry, but he sure would be slow to draw.

    1. avatar poppymann says:

      Initally I read it as “incontinent.”

  2. avatar Rudy says:

    I have only one comment thus far. Abuse of psychiatry. Where is the borderline and where are the concrete guarantees that there will be no abuse? There are none, I suppose. Judging some of yours media, I can’t help but agree with Oleg Volk, who said something about US walking dangerously close to replace their A for SR (not directly, via metaphorical phrases, but still). Some beatlomaniac pun intended.

  3. avatar OldSloBiker says:

    I have a definite problem with restricting Constitutional rights based on mental illness, considering how politicized the mental health industry is. At the rate things are going, the mere desire to carry a firearm could soon be defined as a mental disorder in DSM-IV.

  4. avatar ExurbanKevin says:

    1. Pacifists. Not gungrabbers, but the people who are committed to “turning the other cheek” no matter what. I don’t agree with them, but I respect their decision. Just as they do not force their beliefs on to me, so will I not force mine on to them.

    2. People who don’t WANT to carry a gun. Some people don’t like driving, some don’t like flying, some people don’t like craft-brewed beers (I call those people “idiots”. I digress…). If you don’t want to carry, don’t carry: Just don’t get in the way of MY ability to carry a firearm, that’s all I ask.

    As for idiots/children/easily angered people, consistent thread running thru all of those kinds of people is “People who are incapable of recognizing the serious of their actions”. Carrying a gun is a simple thing, but it is a big statement of personal responsibility. Carrying a gun means you yourself are responsible for your defence and the lives of your loved ones, not others, not the state, you.

    Consider this: If you ride on a bus, your responsibility is to not be loud or obnoxious or annoy the person responsible for your safety (the bus driver). When you drive a car, you are now responsible for your safety and the safe handling of your car.

    Some people can’t / won’t deal with that. We call those people “passengers”.

  5. avatar JJ Swiontek says:

    “Who shouldn’t carry a gun?” isn’t the whole question. The whole question is: “Who shouldn’t carry a gun and should the federal/state/county/city government force us to be defenseless?” Now, let’s look at the list again… Criminals. Once you commit a crime, under the current system, you become a second-class citizen with no right to self-defense. No redemption, no paying your debt to society. One-strike-and-you’re-out. Forever. And there are so many laws now (law pollution) that everyone commits at least one FELONY every day. Following the logical steps… Everyone is just an uncaught or un-convicted felon. Therefore, no one should be allowed a gun.

    The classic example is the woman who took a photo of the turtles laying eggs on her beach-front property. One photo, no flash. She was convicted of wildlife harassment (a felony) and is now banned for life from having the tools of self-defense.

    The good intention of keeping guns out of the hands of criminals has logically become guns for no one because, eventually, everyone breaks a law.

    The Mentally Ill. Like beauty, mental illness is in the mind of the beholder. I bet that that I can easily find 3 shrinks to agree that anyone who likes to shoot guns is mentally ill and should be prevented from owning guns.

    Again, the good intention of keeping guns out of the hands of the dangerous becomes the enforceable ‘no one gets guns’.

    The real issue is ‘pre-crime’. Some people want to be able to look into the future and see the crime and stop it before it happens. Since they can’t look into the future, then they try to stop everyone from having the tools to do the crime. In doing so, they stop the law abiding (but not the law breaking) from access to the tools of self-defense. The result is more crime, not less.

    I prefer dealing with each crime as it happens. Punish the criminal. And when the criminal has paid his debt to society, treat the person as the citizen that they are, with their full rights intact.

    Beware of good intentions.

  6. avatar CUJO THE DOG OF WAR says:

    Brad, how did you get a picture of Grandma Cujo? I remember like it was yesterday, helping her to link rounds, walking patrols on the farm, setting claymores on the wire…

    1. avatar anonymousperson says:

      Write about the question only please, I am doing research so I need expert opinions

      Thank you!

  7. avatar Derek says:

    The problem with giving the government, or anybody for that matter, arbitrary authority is that it can and will be abused. Saying that criminals shouldn’t have guns is all well and fine but what type of criminal? Who makes that decision? Violent offenders? Burglars? Drug users? Speeders? Double parkers? J-Walkers? Do we ban them from driving cars? From using kitchen knives? From having hammers? Do we take away their 1st amendment rights? 4th? 5th? You would allow the government to violate a group of people with impunity AND allow them to decide who’s in that group?

    You’re justifying a group of people being wronged because A) it allows you to appease your aggressors (gun grabbers) and B) you’re not in that group.

    1. avatar Rob Crawford says:

      Who makes that decision?

      The legislature that writes the laws, and the courts that convict the people who violate them. In some cases, the senior executive who can restore the rights through a pardon.

  8. avatar Charles says:

    To my way of thinking, a big part of the problem with gun control laws is, no matter how well-intended they are, someone will find a way to use them against sound, law-abiding folks. This is why the pro-gun crowd fights legislation which, on the surface, might seem innocuous to some.
    It may be difficult to argue intent, but the consequences of legislation, unintended though they may have been, are plain to see. Gun-free zones would be a basic example of the problem: some unbalanced, evil person arms himself and kills a dozen people in a school because he knows his victims are helpless. The pattern suggests calculation.

    OldSloBiker points to another example above.

  9. avatar Sid says:

    I agree with a need for change in the military carry climate. The tragedy at Fort Hood would have a different outcome (if not been avoided altogether) had the soldiers not been in a “gun-free” zone.

    I am ready to go in a radical new direction. Soldiers should be encouraged to carry. It would actually be fairly simple to implement. (I have been a soldier since 1986, so please avoid the ad hominems and accusations that I don’t understand military life). Soldiers graduating from Basic Training could be entitled to a military discount on the purchase of their authorized carry weapon. This would be their sidearm, not their service rifle which would be issued at the unit.

    We have issues when soldiers arrive in country and are thrust into the situation of daily carry. The problem stems from too little time allowed to carry. Any issues that result from allowing soldiers to carry stateside should be resolved stateside before the soldier is in a hostile environment.

    Not sidetrack the thread. I agree that there is a common ground. But that one issue is something that concerns me daily.

    1. avatar gage says:

      I think its Switzerland where every soldier discharged also takes his/her duty weapon home with them – and since military service is mandatory, pretty much every home has a rifle in it. They may be nuetral but they are armed. Seems to work for them.

  10. avatar James Felix says:

    Something that always bothers me about the gun control side of the debate is their apparent belief that some magical change happens to someone when you pin a badge on them. The sad fact is that a lot of LEOs are stupid, incompetant or abusive of their power. If you’re comfortable with them having a gun then you should be fine with me having one.

    (me being a guy with no criminal record and spotless history of gun safety, as I suspect most of you are)

    1. avatar Magoo says:

      Hmm. That looks like a big fat straw man argument to me. As a “gun control” person, I suppose, I think law enforcement officers should be carefully screened and tested before they are sworn in, then receive ongoing training and firearms qualifying throughout their careers. No, I don’t think any yahoo who happens to wander in off the street should be awarded a badge and a gun.

      No offense but that includes you. You say you are the proverbial responsible, law-abiding citizen, but then, isn’t everyone. As far as I know you could be that dickweed in the thong throwing his AK off the roof. It’s not like there are any real qualifications for citizen gun ownership. You could be anyone who passes the background check and can fog a mirror.

      1. avatar IndyEric says:

        I think those that want to exercise their right to free speech should also be carefully screened and tested.

        1. avatar Magoo says:

          I take it from your comment that police officers should not be screened? What are you trying to say?

        2. avatar IndyEric says:

          I could be wrong, but I read your comment to mean that as police officers are carefully screened and tested, so should gun owners who wish to exercise their 2nd Amendment right. Why not also carefully screen and test that that wish to exercise their 1st Amendment right?

          If you don’t think prospective gun owners should be carefully screened and tested, I apologize for my misunderstanding of your comment.

      2. avatar Rudy says:

        Well, since you claim “gun control person” throne :), just one question – are your (i.e. American) LE personnel have access to unlimited (not literally, but I suppose you understand me) supply of ammunition? I mean can he practice when he wants or they given very limited amount of ammunition? You can’t be Rob Leatham if you have just 20 rounds per month limit. And especially if your superior do not let you to practice, branding you “trigger happy”, “loose cannon” and “dangerous element” only because you want to hone your skills with gun. Social vibe is good, but sometime useless. Maybe that’s why there are news like “cops make 50 shot, scored 20 hits (which is good percentage IMHO), targeted perp still able to talk and blame police for murder attempt”.

      3. avatar Rich K. says:

        An interesting fact: the so-called “Hughes Amendment” that put an end to Joe Citizen making his own machine guns (with federal approval and after paying the appropriate fees) after May of 1986, was a “solution looking for a problem”. In other words, there was absolutely no good reason to ban people who had passed an extensive background check and waited for months to receive approval, from making their own fully automatic weapons. I did a research paper on gun control when I was in college in the 1990’s (I have a Bachelor of Science in criminal justice), and in my research I found that, of all the approximately 165,000 legally owned and registered machine guns on record since GCA ’68 was passed, only ONE was ever used to commit a violent crime – and that was by a deranged police officer who tried to kill his wife in a drug-related incident!

    2. avatar Rudy says:

      What actually makes me smile, when somebody (not personally you), starts to say something about LE, or Military, or some another branch of professions “as whole”. Doesn’t matter are they praise or criticize – their words often sounds like those branches consists not from their fellow countrymen, but, dunno, extraterrestrial beings.
      It happens here often, somebody blames army or LE for something and completely forget, that personnel there literally same as critic. They are from same country, maybe even same town. Damn, they can share same desk at school or bunks in kindergarten. But no, “soldiers are bad and stupid” (excluding relatives of author, especially if there is draft in that particular country). Soldiers represents part of population (not necessary worst) just because they taken from it. Putting uniform on “that guy” won’t turn him into shining paladin, who pisses holy water.

    3. avatar James says:

      I agree. There are several local “tactical” trainers who on their CV list “Police Officer” as their qualifications for teaching. That tells me nothing of their true capability. I’ve seen many officers (watch an episode of COPS for an example) get a pistol off a bad guy and it takes 5 of them to figure out how to check and safe the weapon, examining it like it just came from Mars. The fact is that especially in smaller departments, many LEO’s fire their first and last shots at the academy and have no training afterwards. And many that do train or have to qualify yearly get to stand Isosceles and put 7/10 on the paper, with no training on emphasis on stress shooting. This is not a broad brush labeling of all LEO’s by no means, but having several close friends in different LEO jobs, you don’t have to look far to see the problems.

  11. avatar Rich Keagy says:

    Does a felon loose his G*d-given rights?

  12. avatar Andrew Snyder says:

    I am of the firm belief that most gun grabbers are criminals. And no I don’t mean just because they abuse the constitution.

    I simply can’t comprehend any reason someone would want to deny me the means to defend my home and loved ones from a bad guy, unless they themsleves are currently or plan in the future to be the bad guy.

  13. avatar Brad Kozak says:

    Just to clarify my point (in case you all might have misunderstood) I don’t think the disagreement between pro-gun and anti-gun people has to do with denying guns to criminals, small children, insane people, or the irresponsible. The difference is that those on the Right understand that it’s impossible to pass laws that will effectively prevent bad things from happening. All these laws accomplish is to impede/prevent the law-abiding among us to defend ourselves. Those on the Left believe that the tradeoff between losing some of our rights to self-defense is a reasonable one, because they believe these laws will prevent (or limit) the amount of bad things that happen, as they believe it will limit the access to guns for everybody, the law-abiding and criminals alike. They are of course wrong, as has been proven, time and time again. Stricter gun control laws do not keep us safer. They have the opposite effect.

    The purpose in my story today, was to point out that we as pro-gun advocates are not unreasonable – we see the dangers out there. But we realize something that the gun grabbers don’t – that gun laws are as effective at keeping guns out of the hands of the bad guys as laws regulating where mosquitos may congregate would be in keeping people from being eaten alive by bugs.

    1. avatar Rudy says:

      I see it is international problem to explain this to “antis”. Probably like in any other controversy though.

      1. avatar Coyote Gray says:

        It’s probably the one saving grace for gun enthusiast, and the one thing that keeps more oppressive gun laws from spreading across the US.

        That those who would vote and promote an anti-gun policy, are so unapologetically against any gun ownership or passing laws that make sense, that the laws they promote turn off responsible gun owner who might otherwise be open to compromise.

        When ever the topic of gun controls comes up for debate, RARELY does it include concessions from anti-gun proponents. More often, it includes more restrictions based on arguments with little merit. For example, how many crimes had been committed with legally owned short barreled rifles, before a law was passed to have those weapons tightly managed by the ATF?

        I would love to have a factual, logical discussion about gun control in this country, but, it seems as if gun control advocates aren’t interested in facts or logic. As a result, I have to send my support to those that are their polar opposites, and I have to stomach certain gun laws that are ineffectual.

  14. avatar stateisevil says:

    It’s strange that it’s just a given we should all be ok with allowing the most dangerous people in society to be armed, that is, those who work for the state. Many states have nuclear weapons, capable of murdering millions. What’s more is that the state has murdered countless millions, yet we debate about whether sovereign individuals with inherent rights should be “allowed” by the “authorities” to carry little pistolas. In the last 10 years alone, the state ruling north america has murdered several hundred thousand brown people for no articulate reason. Yet all sides agree, more deadly zoom zooms, ba-boom’s-any death gadget-if it’s in the hands of the state, all is well.

  15. avatar Revolverlady says:

    Thank you! This is a great article. Welcome to the fold.

  16. Hi.magnificent job. I did not picture this.

  17. avatar anonymousperson says:

    Since I am doing a research on this I would need some expert opinions.

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