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Jarnagin English 106, Section D Wednesday, October 25, 2006 Major Paper #2 The Misconception of the Concealed Weapon in America November, 1993. Colin Ferguson walked into a seedy thirty-five dollar a night motel and asked for a room in Long Beach, California. He stayed for three weeks. He was a good tenant, quiet, reserved, and always paid his bill on time. He only needed 15 days though for that is all the time required to wait to purchase a handgun in the state of California. Over the next few days with weapon in hand, Mr. Ferguson drove across the country to Long Island, New York. On December 7th, he boarded a commuter train to Nassau County. Once the train entered Nassau he began to open fire with the Ruger P-89, nine millimeter, semi-automatic pistol he had bought while in California. Before he was done, six people would be dead and nineteen others would be injured. The only reason it wasn’t more is because while he was reloading his pistol for the third time, three passengers overpowered him and held him to the ground until police arrived. While his only motive was pure hate for white people, much of what happened that day could have been prevented with better gun control legislation. With the violent crime rate rapidly growing in states with more restricted gun laws, the need for more liberal gun laws is necessary now more than ever. Imagine what could have been prevented if one or more law abiding citizens had been carrying a concealed weapon on that fateful day. Could the lives of six people been saved or the lives of 19 others not have been changed for the worst? While no one can be absolutely sure what would have occurred, in today's fearful climate every life would most certainly have been saved. Therefore, both state and federal governments along with the National Rifle Association need to work together

Jarnagin 2 and compromise their viewpoints in order to make the United States a safer place to live. With any and all gun control arguments, the Second Amendment of the Constitution of the United States comes into question. This amendment cannot logically be argued for its vagueness is enough to keep lawmakers and lawyers in the courtroom for a lifetime. The Second Amendment or the right to bear arms amendment reads as follows: "a well-regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed."(Mount) The Second Amendment in fact has yet to be incorporated as many other amendments have. The Privileges and Immunities Clause, which has been interpreted as applying to the Bill of Rights states that "No state shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any state deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law, nor deny any person within its jurisdiction, the equal protection of the laws." (Mount) In other words, a State may be as restrictive or unrestricted as it wishes to be in the regulation of firearms. Likewise, private organizations’ rules and regulations may prohibit or encourage firearms. Take for example, a private country club. While a state may have no restriction whatsoever on concealed handguns it is completely lawful for the country club to ban concealed handguns from its premises. The Second Amendment therefore could be considered null and void if a state so chooses it. The primary argument of the amendment is simply one of syntax. Those individuals and organizations seeking greater gun control argue that the amendment was specifically designed for the use of militias while our country was still new. As militias have become extinct, they believe so should the right to bear arms. On the other hand proponents of more liberal laws believe the second half of the amendment that specifically states "the right of the people to keep

Jarnagin 3 and bear arms." and should not be infringed in any way. (Mount) Historically speaking, the attitudes of Americans in the 1790’s were much different than they are today. Freestanding armies were mistrusted as they had been used to overthrow governments and monarchies in Europe. Therefore, militias were needed to prevent attacks from bandits, Indians, and other states militias, as these were growing more common. Many states even had laws requiring men of age to own a gun and supplies to fire that gun in time of need. As our country's freestanding army grew, the militia developed into what we know today as the National Guard. No longer were citizens required or requested to take up arms in defense of the state. Interestingly enough however, the U.S. Code still recognizes the unorganized militia as an entity. While the argument draws on, its impact is already fiercely impacting the rate of crime in the nation. Currently, the state of Florida does not require a permit to purchase a handgun, register the said firearm, or require the owner to be licensed prior to owning it. The state does however require a permit to carry the weapon concealed. Those individuals that have been convicted of a felony, are drug addicts, alcoholics, mentally incompetent, or are vagrant are not allowed to own, possess or fire any firearm whatsoever. Otherwise, any individual over the age of 18 may purchase a handgun after a three day waiting period. There are exceptions to the rule when it comes to the carrying or concealing of a handgun without a license however, and for this reason the state of Florida has been widely reported on. While in the state, you are not required to have a license to conceal in your home or place of business, while driving to or from a shooting range, or while hunting, or traveling in your own vehicle. While under recent scrutiny regarding how relaxed Florida's gun laws are, most have been in effect since 1987. Their laws regarding the carrying of a concealed weapon are some of the most relaxed in the nation with only a request

Jarnagin 4 required and a statement to you will only use the weapon in self defense. Furthermore, Jeb Bush recently signed into law that there is no longer a "duty to retreat." In other words, if you are attacked in any place to you have lawful right to be, you may stand your ground and "meet force with force" and if necessary deadly. (Fortifying) Many opponents and proponents alike worry that this new law will give individuals the false idea that if you feel threatened, it is o.k. to shoot and kill if necessary any individual they feel threatened by. Ultimately, the change in crime rates because of the new law has been minimal. In 1995 Florida had a population of 14,142,000 people. 58,408 acts of violent crime were committed during that year or .41%. Ten years later in 2005 the population increased to 17,789,864 with 125,957 acts of violent crime or .71%. (Crime 1995, Crime 2005.) Based on these numbers, Florida has not imposed the correct and laws. Many of the states had similar results in those 10 years. Some of the other states with relaxed and laws also showed an increase such as Texas who went from .21% in 1995 to .53% in 2005. Arizona had .25% of the population experiencing violent crime in 1995 and .51% in 2005. The only state with relaxed and laws that showed a decrease was that of Connecticut that had a .31% violent crime rate in 1995 and a .28% rate in 2005. (Crime 1995, Crime 2005). In fact, most states had an increase in their violent crime rate in those 10 years regardless of their gun laws. While everyone seems to have an answer to reduce the amount of crime in the nation, they seem to be filled with more propaganda that fact. The National Rifle Association, one of the primary advocates of fewer gun laws, was established in 1871 by 2 Union soldier officers who wanted to "promote and encourage rifle shooting on the scientific basis." Today the NRA considers itself as "a major political force and Jarnagin 5

as America's foremost defender of Second Amendment Rights." (A Brief History) According to an article dated the 26th of September of this year by the NRA, violent crime has had a 30 year low yet the number of privately owned guns has increased to an all time high, and continues to rise by approximately 40 million a year. They are also reporting an increase in the right-to-carry states from 10 in 1987 to 40 today and that those states have on average a 22% lower violent crime rate. (More Guns) The NRA prides itself on knowing that the "assault weapon” ban expired in 2004 that was imposed by Bill Clinton while still in his presidency. Hence it is now legal to purchase semi-automatic assault rifles within the United States. Furthermore, their gun rally held less than 20 miles and only one day after the Columbine shootings in Colorado made them look as though they were looking for more shock publicity than anything else. On the other hand, the Brady Campaign prides itself as being "the largest national, nonpartisan, grassroots organization leading the fight to prevent gun violence." (Our Mission) They also state in their mission statement that "the Brady Center believes that a safer America can be achieved without banning all guns." (Our Mission) As you scroll through their internet site, you find that they may not be very honest to themselves let alone the American public. You can plainly see that the organization wants all guns out of the United States. You can find your own states report card on the state laws regarding gun control. Florida received an F+, Texas received a D -, Arizona received a D, and the only states that received higher than the B+ were those with complete concealed weapon bands. (Florida, Arizona, Texas) "Overall, 32 states received a grade of ‘D’ or ‘F’ for the 2005 report card." (State Legislatures) They also report the exact opposite of the National Rifle Association in regards to crime rates and the United States. They report that violent crime actually rose in 27% of the states that relaxed their concealed weapons Jarnagin 6

laws. (Concealed Truth) In the long run these entities need to decide how long they will fight the same issues without compromise. Compromise is the key in the issue of gun control. As the states and/or federal government don't seem to be able to afford a larger and better trained police force, it is up to the citizens to protect one another. Similar to the neighborhood watch programs that began in the 1980s, we need more competent, responsible, stable individuals with handguns on the streets. Handguns are not only use as mechanisms of self defense but also deterrents of crime. If Colin Ferguson knew the two or three individuals on that commuter car could possibly be carrying a weapon, would he have opened fire? Since criminals perform crimes with the intent of not getting caught, logically, the answer is no. Not only does his country need more handguns on the street, we need safer handguns and safer people to operate them. Technology is available today in which handguns can be fingerprint imprinted so that only the individual with a fingerprint imprinted on the weapon can fire it. Every fingerprint is then fed into either a state or federally run database so that every firearm and every firearm owner is registered. States implementing a law requiring all guns to be equipped with this feature will drastically reduce its number of accidental shootings and the black marketing of weapons. Furthermore, as every barrel of every weapon is different, the gun itself has its own "fingerprint." When purchasing a weapon, the gun is "fingerprinted" and added to the exact same database. This will assist law enforcement officials with the conviction of individuals who fire their weapons maliciously. Lastly, a mandatory safety training course should be required for every individual firing a weapon. Those individuals requesting a concealed weapons license should go through training geared more towards

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personal defense. Every member of the military and police force go through very similar training, the private citizen should be no different. While the costs of such programs would be in the billions of dollars, the costs need to be deferred to the gun owner. Through gun taxes and fees programs like these can be bought and paid for as the weapons are sold. Ultimately, if someone wants to own a gun, they're going to have to pay for it. However set in their ways both the Brady Campaign and the National Rifle Association are, at some point they're going to have to compromise and make concessions to one another. The less they bicker about Second Amendment Rights and statistics that just don't add up, the sooner they can truly begin to make a difference in both the security of our nation and the security of our communities. Had just one person been trained to stop an armed gunman through utilizing a weapon of his own or through brute strength, six people may still have their lives and another 19 may not have to contend with sleepless nights with memories of a Nassau commuter train.

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Works Cited “A Brief History Of The NRA.” NRA-ILA. 20 Oct. 2006 <http://www.nra.org/aboutus.aspx> Toufexis, Anastasia. “A Mass Murderer’s Journey Toward Madness.” Time. 20 Dec. 1993. 20 Oct. 2006 <http://www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,979847,00.html> “Arizona.” Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence. 20 Oct. 2006 <http://www.stategunlaws.org/viewstate.php?st=AZ&choose_state=Go> “Concealed Truth, Concealed Weapons Laws and Trends in Violent Crime in the United States.” Brady Campaign To Prevent Gun Violence. 20 Oct. 2006 <http://www.bradycampaign.org/facts/research/?page=conctruth&menu=gvr> “Crime in the United States, 1995.” Federal Bureau of Investigation. 20 Oct. 2006 <http://www.fbi.gov/ucr/Cius_97/95CRIME/95crime4.pdf> “Crime in the United States by State, 2005.” Federal Bureau of Investigation. Sept. 2006. 20 Oct. 2006 <http://www.fbi.gov/ucr/05cius/data/table_05.html> “Florida.” Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence. 20 Oct. 2006 <http://www.stategunlaws.org/viewstate.php?st=FL&choose_state=Go> “Fortifying the Right to Self-Defense.” NRA-ILA. 06 Feb. 2006. 20 Oct. 2006 <http://www.nraila.org//Issues/FactSheets/Read.aspx?ID=188> Montaldo, Colin., “Colin Ferguson.” About. 20 Oct. 2006 <http://crime.about.com/od/murder/p/frguson.htm> “More Guns, Less Crime.” NRA-ILA. 26 Sept. 2006. 20 Oct. 2006 <http://nraila.org/Issues/FactSheets/Read.aspx?id=206&issue=007> Jarnagin 9

Mount, Steve., “Constitutional Topic: The Second Amendment.” The U.S. Constitution Online. 20 Oct. 2006 <http://www.usconstitution.net/consttop_2nd.html> “Our Mission.” Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence. 20 Oct. 2006 <http://www.bradycampaign.org/about/index.php?pagename=mission> “State Legislatures are Failing to Protect Kids from the Dangers of Illegal Guns.” Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence. 20 Oct. 2006 <http://www.bradycampaign.org/facts/reportcards/2005/> “Texas.” Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence. 20 Oct. 2006 <http://www.stategunlaws.org/viewstate.php?st=TX&choose_state=Go> “U.S. Code, Title 10, Subtitle A, Part 1, Chapter 13.” Find Law. 20 Oct. 2006 <http://caselaw.lp.findlaw.com/casecode/uscodes/10/subtitles/a/parts/i/chapters/13/sections/ Section_311.html>