Op-Ed Gets Gun Rights And Constitutional Carry All Wrong

AP Photo/ Rick Bowmer

By now, you’d think I’d be used to all the ways people get stuff wrong. After all, they usually don’t use new arguments, so I should be used to seeing them.

Yet, for some reason, I still can’t help but be amazed that people still use the same stupid, tired arguments nor that newspapers and websites actually publish them.

Take this one regarding Tennessee’s constitutional carry bill.

The concealed-carry gun permit law passed in 2019, which reduced the requirements for Tennessee’s basic carry permit, was a bad law.

The one now coming through committee, dubbed “constitutional carry” and  allows anyone over the age of 21 to carry a gun without testing or training is even worse.

It is often said that “my rights end where yours begin.” That being said, I have the right to a safe environment. To let anyone carry a weapon with no measure of competence and no training whatsoever is ludicrous when you are talking about an instrument that can harm, maim or end a life in the blink of an eye.

Except, constitutional carry isn’t really about letting anyone carry a gun. It’s only for law-abiding citizens. Criminals who are legally barred from owning a gun can’t lawfully carry one. Juveniles can’t either. It’s only the law-abiding citizens.

And, as we’ve seen in shall-issue states, law-abiding citizens carrying guns are not now, nor have ever been, an issue.

Moving on, so we can see some of the idiocy at work….

This bill should not be disguised as being about the rights covered under the Second Amendment.  Even the First Amendment does not allow one to practice free speech if it endangers other people’s lives.  You cannot go into a crowded theater and yell “Fire,” start a stampede that causes injury or death and be protected under the First Amendment.

Oh, this tired canard again.

This comes from the ruling in Schenck v. United States where it was suggested there were limits on free speech. However, that ruling was partially overturned, though, in Brandenburg v. OhioIn that ruling, the Court found that only speech intended to incite immediate unlawful action wasn’t protected.

Further, even under Schenck, the claim was never really about not being able to yell “Fire” in a crowded theater. After all, if there was actually a fire, yelling such a thing would make sense and certainly be protected speech. The same is true if performers on the stage yelled it as part of their performance.

So his example falls pretty flat.

But the courts have generally accepted that there are some limitations on rights. Even in Heller, Justice Antonin Scalia said there were some justified limits on the Second Amendment.

Does the author make a case, though? Let’s see.

This same principle applies to the Second Amendment, too.

This is a matter of public safety.  As a practical matter, before citizens can obtain a driver’s license, we require them to take a monitored test in a facility and take a driving test to demonstrate competency.  Why?  Because incompetence on the road can result in injury or death to others and even the driver himself.

Oh, the old “we require these things for cars, so why not guns?”

Well, let’s also understand that the right to keep and bear cars exists nowhere in the Constitution. Further, licensing is only required for driving on public roadways. Children on farms learn to drive young and often operate motor vehicles on their farms for ages before they can even think about getting a license.

But again, driving isn’t a right protected by the Constitution. Keeping and bearing arms, however, is.

Yet let’s see if the author really makes a point worth considering.

The present enhanced carry permit law is good. It requires education, testing and training. This present law allows the responsible gun owner to exercise their Second Amendment right with the least amount of endangerment to others.

OK, I wonder how the author would feel if we applied his measure to other constitutionally-protected rights. Let’s say that the state decided to license ministers before they could speak or require special training before he was to be allowed to write stupid op-eds for a newspaper. How would he react to that?

Imagine being required to go through special civics training before being allowed to exercise your right to vote?

Yet, in a way, that’s what the author is suggesting. It’s calling for special education and testing before exercising a constitutionally-protected right. If it’s a good idea for one right, why would it be a bad idea for another? Where’s the logic.

Again, let’s see if he goes on to make any actual points worth thinking about.

Owning a gun may be a right, but carrying one around in public is a privilege and should be taken seriously.

This privilege should require testing and training and not be given simply because you are age 21 and a citizen.

Argument by assertion, 15-yard penalty.

The Second Amendment protects “the right to keep and bear arms,” not just keep them. That means the right goes well beyond simply owning guns. It protects the use of them as well, and you damn well can’t use a gun if you have to leave it at home when you really need it.

Law enforcement at almost every level is against this bill. Law enforcement is hard and dangerous enough as is without adding another thing our officers have to contend with in performing their duties.

Now, this is a valid point for discussion. Law enforcement in many places does oppose constitutional carry, and they have reasons. After all, as it stands, if they find someone with a gun and no permit, they can reasonably assume he’s up to no good. Remove permitting requirements and that’s not so easy.

Yet it should be noted that we’re not seeing increased police fatalities or police being unable to do their jobs in the many states that have already passed concealed carry.

Just going to throw that out there.

Up and down the board, there’s nothing new in this screed. It’s just emotion-driven nonsense by someone who claims to support “responsible gun ownership.” Almost no substantive arguments offered, just claims and assertions you’re expected to take seriously simply because he made them. Had a pro-gun writer offered something as pathetically argued like this, it’s unlikely it would have been printed.