On Feb. 26, the Kansas State Senate voted 31-7 to pass a bill making Kansas a “constitutional carry” state; Kansas is now the sixth state that allows for carrying a concealed firearm without a permit or training.
Kansas joins Alaska, Arizona, Vermont, and Wyoming as states that are “constitutional carry” states; Montana requires that owners have permits within city limits.
Proponents for such laws, as in the state of Kansas, argue it is not much of a difference to existing laws allowing open carrying without permits. Opponents, however, stress the dangers of allowing untrained individuals to carry hidden, loaded guns in public places.
Should any American have the right to carry a concealed firearm? Six states have answered that question with an affirmative yes. But, by saying yes, these states are saying yes to giving concealed guns to untrained civilians. Even in theory, this is not a good prospect.
If giving a yes is to protect society from gun violence and ward off potential terrorists, these states need to realize gun education is more important than ever. Though citizens can carry weapons without training, it is their responsibility to continue to be law-abiding and to handle their weapons properly.
But is it not counter-intuitive to expect proper handling of firearms without any training? If somebody got a new job, somewhere involving harmful machinery, how could he or she be expected not to get injured without proper instruction? A loaded firearm not properly handled could be lethal to its owner and anybody nearby.
Furthermore, if citizens are untrained, how can they be expected to know every law? How can citizens who do not own firearms be expected to know all the laws, then? Many of the reasons used by proponents of open carry laws usually revolve around increasing personal security and safety; how can we be more safe if people do not know what is indeed legal or illegal?
To that end, proponents, or those in the gray area, may argue open carry allows society to defend itself better against criminals and terrorists. While having a gun on the spot may be useful if someone opens fire near us, that raises a bigger question: can an untrained civilian really hit a trained terrorist?
According to a 2008 RAND Corporation study evaluating the New York Police Department’s firearm training, between 1998 and 2006, the average hit rate during gunfights was just 18 percent. Even some of the most trained law enforcers have difficulty hitting the target.
If the logic behind making society safer is to allow more firearms to be carried without training, this statistic begins to shed light on how the nation’s attempts to prevent gun violence have fallen short. Another important point to recognize is that the NYPD is also trained to know what is a good shot versus what is a bad shot; i.e., they know what shots may hit the good guys and not the bad guys.
Though no law or gun carry rights will ultimately prove to prevent criminals from obtaining their weaponry and acting on their plans, deciding as a society that the best decision is to fight back with weapons in the hands of civilians not proficient in handling them is missing the mark. Maybe some citizens can get the bad guy when they need to, but when trained officers struggle to do what civilians are blindly attempting, a new approach to preventing gun violence is needed.
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