Opponents of permitless carry often claim that one of the issues is that it will inhibit police, that they won’t be able to do their jobs. In fact, Georgia gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams tried to reframe it as “criminal carry.”
Now, I get the argument. After all, when a carry permit is required, police can stop someone they see with a gun and ask for the permit. If someone doesn’t have one, they get arrested. Since law-abiding people tend not to carry guns illegally–that whole “law-abiding” thing–it’s an easy step for the cops.
Permitless carry, by contrast, ends that.
Yet as one department illustrates, it doesn’t make it impossible to catch bad guys carrying guns illegally. They just have to handle things differently.
Officer Matt Gilmer is with the Euclid Police Department’s new Community Response Unit, which is tasked specifically with getting illegal guns off the street.
He said they have fewer ways to take illegal guns away since the state no longer requires a permit for concealed carry. One thing they can still do is take a gun away from someone if certain convictions pop up in a criminal background check.
Officers use a memo from the prosecutor’s office to guide them in other cases.
“We can always consult this if we’re ever unsure of what we’re looking at,” Gilmer said.
Gilmer said in some cases the department educates people about the new law instead of just seizing a weapon.
“Within five years of a person that’s been convicted of two or more violations of assault or negligent assault,” Gilmer said. “And say four and a half years have passed. That’s a good opportunity to educate somebody without taking their weapon.”
That’s more than reasonable.
Note, though, that they have guidance on how to handle these stops now. That means it’s not impossible for them to do their job, as some have claimed. It just means they can’t assume that the presence of a firearm means someone is breaking the law.
Frankly, that should never have been an issue in the first place. The right to keep and bear arms is explicitly protected by the Constitution, after all.
“But what if the criminal hasn’t been arrested before?” some might ask
To that, I simply point out that if they haven’t been arrested, then they could well have gotten a permit before Ohio passed permitless carry. The fact that they don’t have to doesn’t change any of that.
See, there’s a lot of talk about what police will or won’t be able to do, but the truth is that law enforcement will adapt as needed. Their job is to enforce the laws, not to shape them for their own convenience. Let’s remember that if we simply curtailed any right that made the police’s job more difficult, we’d have long since done away with that pesky Fourth Amendment.
So, what’s happened here is that prosecutors have helped shape guidance on what police should do to deal with the situation. Bad guys are still going to get caught carrying illegally.
All that’s happened is good guys aren’t required to get permission to carry a gun.