There Is No "Allow"
By L. Neil Smith
Recently we've heard astonishing fallout from an impressive study
of the achievements, so far, of a growing effort -- almost amounting
to a movement -- to make it easier for ordinary folks to legally
carry concealed weapons. In states where this effort has been
successful, crime rates (in terms of violent confrontation) have
fallen so dramatically even the media can no longer deny it.
Advocates of the right to own and carry weapons rendered cynical
by years of watching media act as a fourth branch of government,
rather than its adversaries as Jefferson intended, are inclined to
wonder why the hairsprayheads have decided, unprecedentedly, to tell
the truth. I suspect an answer lies in a troubling aspect of
concealed carry I've attempted to warn gunfolk about previously.
When I entered the argument three and a half decades ago, the
issue where both sides were concerned was registration and licensing.
Antigunners wanted every firearm in the country listed in government
directories, every user required to obtain written permission to
exercise his Second Amendment rights -- rights to be converted into
privileges, revocable upon the whim of politicians and bureaucrats.
Antigunners were unsuccessful until 1968, when, grotesquely
stampeded by the assassinations of John Kennedy, Robert Kennedy, and
Martin Luther King (I don't recall any similar outrage on the part of
the media over the shooting of George Wallace), government began
enforcing the registration of weapons, new and used, at the point of
retail sale, under Lyndon Johnson's Omnibus Crime Control Act.
Over the next quarter-century, we managed to "live with" this
law, which, with the collaboration of a criminal justice system so
putrescently corrupt it shines in the dark, blatantly violated the
letter and intent of the Second Amendment. It helped that guns in
private hands or traded among individuals didn't enter the retail
stream and remained unregistered. It also helped that, thanks to
Ronald Reagan, the outlaw BATF (what else do you call an out-of-
control agency that coldbloodedly murders 81 individuals -- 22 of
them kids -- and whose very existence is forbidden by the
Constitution?) was prohibited from computerizing forms generated
under the 1968 Gun Control Act. And there was still no provision for
Now, the danger of a national Sullivan Act has raised its
stealthy head again, brought on by well-intended but misguided
efforts to issue concealed carry permits. The danger is exacerbated
by the fact that this extremely circumscribed return of a fundamental
liberty has produced such remarkably beneficial results. It reminds
us of the way, in the Soviet Union, that the 5% of farmland privately
owned produced 80% of the crops. Even from our own side, we hear how
crime is falling in states that generously allow 1% of the people
to carry weapons. But there can be no "allow" where an unalienable
individual, civil, Constitutional, and human right is concerned.
One more time, just to get it straight: there is no "allow".
The word applies only to slaves, collared dogs, maybe children, and
government. It does not apply to free adults. We've forgotten that,
in America, unlike any other nation on Earth, "We the People" allow
government to do things (too many, as we're belatedly starting to
realize), not the other way around. That's the point of the 9th and
10th Amendments. Second-highest on the list of things we don't
allow is interference with our right to own and carry weapons.
It's undeniable that crime has decreased wherever the right to
own and carry weapons, previously suppressed, has been converted into
a privilege, granted or denied by the state. Overlooked, however,
is the fact that, in 1994, Vermont was named (Crime State Rankings
1994) the safest state in America. It's the only state without
laws of any kind forbidding -- or allowing -- concealed weapons.
Hence the term, "Vermont Carry", which I coined years ago to describe
the proper way to observe the Second Amendment.
Where licensing proponents tip their hand is that, in many
states, in many versions of concealed carry legislation, failure to
comply with their illegal requirements becomes -- without explanation
or justification -- a felony rather than the misdemeanor it was
before. In other instances, the applicant -- make that, "supplicant"
-- must name the weapon he or she will be allowed to carry, along
with its serial number. Thus we've come, the long way around, by our
own clumsy doing, to the registration and licensing we once opposed.
An unalienable right is one that can't be taken away by anyone
for any reason. All rights are individual rights; no group has
rights beyond those possessed individually by its members. My
dictionary says a civil right is one guaranteed (not "given" or
"granted") to the individual by law. A Constitutional right is no
right at all, but a limit on the power of government. A human right
is one you possess inherently, by virtue of being alive; it's what we
mean when we say "natural" right.
The right to own and carry weapons is all of these things, not one -- not
even civil rights; that's why we busted big fat segregationist sheriffs in
Smokey Bear hats and mirrored sunglasses in the 1960s -- subject to government
Anti-gunners are striking back, suing to expose permits lists,
violate privacy, endanger lives. The law is with them: permits are a
matter of public record and must be disclosed. Elsewhere, we hear
of discriminatory licensing based on income or race. In terms of
potential abuses, you ain't seen nothin' yet.
Second Amendment Caucus,
SAFE (Second Amendment is For Everyone), and
GOLF (Gun Owners' Liberation Front)
were the first to demand nothing less than Vermont Carry -- repeal of any
law having anything to do with how people carry weapons. We're gratified that
SWARM (Safety for Women And Responsible Motherhood) and
GOA (Gun Owners of America)
have followed suit.
It's time for the National Rifle Association
to join us in calling for a national non-system of Vermont Carry. No
prerequisites, no records, no nothing.
Then watch the crime rate start to fall.
Permission to redistribute this article is herewith granted by the
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appropriate credit given.
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