“A Lititz man visiting a New Jersey nuclear power plant on business last week had a loaded handgun and hollow-point bullets when he drove through the plant’s front gate,” articles.lancasteronline.com reports. “New Jersey state law prohibits entry to nuclear plants with a weapon.” It also bans hollow-point bullets—unless you’re driving directly to a gun range. Yup you heard right: the Garden State allows civilians to load their weapon with hollow-point bullets as long as the gun is at home, at the range or in transit between the two. Why shouldn’t a NJ gun owner with a legal concealed carry permit be able to holster hollow-point bullets? I have no idea. It’s a stupid law. But that doesn’t excuse Mr. Charles Vance from failing to obey its provisions . . .
Rest assured that Mr. Vance was not a terrorist. A spokeswoman at the Oyster Creek nuclear power plant told the paper that Vance “was an expected visitor.” Even so, the laws about bringing a handgun into a nuclear power plant are clear (there are posted signs at the gate for the chronically uninformed). As are the regulations about the necessity to renew your handgun permit, which Mr. Vance also managed to forget.
You don’t need me to tell you that the majority of gun regulations are pointless and, worse, endlessly frustrating. For example, I can’t shoot my gun at a Massachusetts gun range (or anywhere else in the state) without a non-resident license to carry (LTC). I can’t get an MA LTC unless I’ve passed an Massachusetts-approved LTC class (check) and possess a Rhode Island-based concealed carry permit (no check).
I can’t get an RI concealed carry permit (yet) because the Providence Police have never, I repeat never issued one. Only now are the Providence po-po creating procedures to process my application (120 days plus and counting).
Meanwhile, I can drive through Massachusetts with a gun unloaded and stored in a locked container separate from my ammo. And I can go to a gun range with it IF I’m going to a competition. (“Hey Ralph, let’s have a competition.”) Even then, I’m not allowed to schlep my Springfield XD-M; the 19-round weapon falls afoul of the Bay State’s high-capacity magazine ban.
So what’s a responsible gun owner to do? Know the law. Obey the law.
As far as we know, Charles Vance was not a terrorist. As far as I know, neither am I. Charles Vance may believe that a gun license should be for life, with no annual fees. I certainly believe I have a constitutional right to carry a firearm on my person. And yet we are both obliged to know and observe local, state and federal gun laws. If we don’t like them, we can change them. Period.
Actually, make that a semi-colon. You could argue that a responsible gun owner’s highest responsibility is self-defense. The requirement to preserve and protect their own life. And the lives of their loved ones. And, perhaps, the lives of innocent people. Some believe that this self-defense mandate comes from no less an authority than God.
Those that do may perceive a radical disconnect between God’s will and that of the politicians who create gun laws, especially those firearms regulations which [they believe] put them and/or their loved ones in harm’s way. How can I lock up all my guns (in accordance with Massachusetts law) and still protect my family at night? Why do I need a better reason than self-protection to legally carry a gun?
In these sorts of cases, many gun owners simply disobey the law. They figure the risk of getting caught is worth the advantages of contravening local, state or federal firearms regulations.
It’s not for me to pass judgement on people who engage in this form of civil disobedience. All I can say is this: lobby for change. And if you’re caught, put your hands up. A responsible gun owner takes responsibility for his or her actions regrading firearms. In all cases.
As for Mr. Vance, .32 caliber? Really?