Among the People of the Gun, the necessity of a license to carry a concealed firearm is discussed with some frequency. Depending on the state, it may be called a Concealed Carry Weapons permit (CCW), a Concealed Handgun License (CHL), or something else (since my state, Ohio, calls it a CCW, I shall use that acronym throughout the rest of the article). A couple of the main debate points are whether requiring a permit actually stops criminals from carrying. Most believe they don’t and whether a CCW is an unconstitutional infringement on the natural, inalienable right to self-defense . . .
Unless one lives in one of the seven states that exercises permitless carry (otherwise known as Constitutional Carry), one is forced to purchase a permit to legally conceal a firearm. While the POTG hasten to point out that a state-mandated permit will sometimes prevent someone from being able to defend themselves from a threat in a timely manner and is an infringement on natural rights, to my knowledge no one has discussed whether requiring a permit prevents the poor from exercising the right to self-defense via firearm.
While it is true that crime is not limited to certain times, locations, races, or social classes, it is important to note that a good portion of crime occurs in urban settings, meaning the average city dweller is more likely to be the victim of a violent crime than a suburbanite or rural dweller. From my understanding, the average inner-city dweller is also probably not highly educated or making an incredible amount of money at any available legal job. Given these facts, it is improbable that such a worker would be able to uproot and move to a safer location, leaving them stranded in neighborhoods that seem to perpetually deteriorate in a never ending downward spiral. These individuals are – if one relies purely on statistics – the most likely to need a gun to defend themselves, yet they are probably the least likely to be armed, even if they wish it was otherwise.
For this article, I am creating a fictional scenario where an honest, blue-collar city dweller is a single mother supporting two young kids on a salary of $20,000 per year. I am also presuming that she is trying to cut costs as much as possible and has next to no spare money to sling about, even for self-defense. Throughout the article, I will attempt to tally up the bare minimum of expenses necessary to acquire and maintain a firearm.
The firearm itself, of course, is the biggest expense. Although Hi Point is a love-it-or-hate-it company, they are undeniably some of the cheapest firearms on the market. We’ll presume that Ms. Doe has purchased a 9mm pistol from them and was lucky enough to get one that actually goes “bang” every time she pulls the trigger. Let’s say she got it on sale for $125, including tax (they’re being sold for $200 where I live, pre-tax). As an aside, she will be carrying off body in her purse, as it’s pretty much impossible to conceal this hand cannon otherwise.
As mentioned in a previous article, one should have at least four magazines for each firearm (I’d personally argue no less than six, but we’re sticking to minimums here). Since Hi Points only come with one, Ms. Doe has to order three from Hi Point at $15 each, costing her $45.
Next up is a good holster. I know I said she was carrying off body, but most agree that one shouldn’t just throw a loaded gun into a purse. We’ll presume she can get a cheap purse holster for $30 (as a male who doesn’t know anyone who purse carries, I just pulled that price out of thin air).
What good is a gun without defensive ammunition? Not much, unless you care to use it as a wall ornament or expensive paperweight. For this scenario, Ms. Doe has purchased a single box of Remington Golden Sabers for $30.
Good to go? Far from it, actually. We mustn’t forget that Ms. Doe needs to clean her gun after her range sessions. While Hi Point says it’s not necessary to clean with any kind of frequency, has anyone here never cleaned their EDC gun? Let’s just say she buys a basic cleaning kit from Wal-Mart, along with a small can of CLP, for a total of $20. She can skip the wipes, because she’s thrifty and is substituting a cut up t-shirt in their stead (a practice I learned from one of my firearm mentors).
Speaking of those range sessions, eye and ear protection are a must, as any responsible gun owner knows. A basic pair of reusable ear plugs will be about $3, and basic glasses will be about $8.
In order to avoid range fees and other such nonsense, Ms. Doe drives outside city limits once a month to shoot at tin cans in a gully on a friend’s land. However, Ms. Doe cannot avoid the cost of ammunition. Fortunately, 9mm is relatively cheap and her range sessions are brief out of necessity. Let’s say she just shoots one box of fifty rounds on her monthly sessions. I know, that’s barely anything, but she has no choice, right? It’s marksmanship or cereal and school clothes for her children. If she buys six Winchester White Boxes of 100 rounds, at $25 apiece, that’s $150 for a year’s worth of ammunition.
Let’s tally up all the expenses now, shall we? Pistol ($125), magazines ($45), holster ($30), cleaning kit and CLP ($20), hollow points ($30), eye and ear protection ($11), and target ammunition ($150). That’s $411.
And here’s where the CCW comes in. A basic class is now eight hours long (down from twelve, thank goodness) and costs $90. Once that’s completed, Ms. Doe has to go down to the sheriff’s office, get fingerprinted, fork over another $67 for the actual permit, and wait for up to 45 days to receive permission to carry a pistol for self-defense (it only took about ten days in my case, but I have no idea if that’s normal).
The total amount is now $568, after we’ve cut every single corner possible. Sure, for the average middle class worker, that’s a chunk of change, especially to drop all at once, but if you scrimp here and cut back there for a month or two you can pull it together and be good to go. For a lower class single parent, however, that $568 may as well be $10,000. I happen to know a lady who is in a similar situation as this fictional Ms. Doe. When I remarked to her that she could get a good self-defense pistol such as a Ruger LCP or Taurus 709 for around $300 at the local Rural King, she scoffed and said, “I’d consider it if things didn’t keep breaking around here!”
That’s something for the middle class to remember. Dave Ramsey may be able to tell you how to become a millionaire by the time you’re fifty, but the average lower class individual will never make $70,000 per year. And yes, sometimes it’s one’s own fault for poverty. Sometimes, however, one simply has a stroke of extreme bad luck. The woman I know was a stay-at-home mom for most of her life before she found herself – essentially overnight, and through no fault of her own – the head of a household with little in the way of marketable job skills. With no way to go back to school, a family to feed, clothe, and shelter, and a constant rearguard battle against a 100 year old house and a twelve year old car with 300,000 miles on it, how exactly is she supposed to gather $568 for a gun, range kit, ammunition, and a CCW? Even if she had the funds, how would she take the class? She’s working full time and has a part time job on weekends as well. She’s caught in an endless cycle that doesn’t look like it’s going to end until her children grow up and leave the house.
I know I’m pounding this point into the ground, but remember this – $568 – is the price of the bare essentials. In other articles and in the comments, folks here have advocated getting a guard dog, a security system, motion detectors, and additional classes on how to operate operationally if one wants to be truly prepared. Also, some people hate Hi Point. (A better pistol, such as the M&P Shield, however, will bump the total price up to somewhere between $743 and $880.) While all these things might be nice for those with money, these are luxuries that the typical lower income individual will never have. A handgun and CCW are already the equivalent of reaching for the moon.
Perhaps the woman I know is the exception to the rule. Maybe not. And even if $411 (expenses sans government permission) were just as difficult to save as $568, does that mean there should be an additional fee to exercise the right to self-defense? Isn’t it hard enough for a blue collar worker to defend himself or herself?
What do you think? Is this an issue that should be addressed, or is it irrelevant? Am I blowing this out of proportion?