Editorial: Liberals should stop opposing concealed handguns and start defending

Columbus Alive
June 26, 2003

Fired Up
by J. Caleb Mozzocco

It's only a matter of time, so maybe you should start getting used to the
idea now: Eventually, it will be completely legal to carry a concealed handgun in the state of Ohio, just as the founding fathers envisioned when they wrote the Second Amendment. Or as the National Rifle Association intended when they started lobbying legislators. Whichever.

Forty-four other states already have some form of concealed carry in place, and even in Ohio it's sort of legal to pack heat (as long as you can prove you have a good reason to, should you get busted). There's always a concealed-carry bill at some point in Ohio's legislative process, and one of
the biggest roadblocks to previous efforts seemingly crumbled recently.

The concealed-carry legislation craze began in the '80s, but Ohio's governors have kept it out of the law books so far. Former Governor George Voinovich promised to veto any bill that made it to his desk, and Governor Bob Taft had pledged to oppose any bill that law enforcement groups opposed.

When the Ohio Highway Patrol dropped its opposition in response to the Senate's tinkering with the latest concealed-carry bill (House Bill 12), so did Taft, and just last week it finally passed the Senate with a 22-10 vote. Now the two houses will have to hammer out a compromise, or just let the bill die and start all over again later.

With the Republican governor and Republican-controlled Senate on one side of
the debate, and the Republican-controlled House on the other, a concealed-carry bill of some sort seems inevitable. The only question remaining is just how
restrictive the law will be.

So where do liberals fit into the debate? Perhaps they should start by giving up their opposition and learning to embrace the gun.

Let’s pause for a moment to consider just what concealed firearms are for. They’re certainly not for hunting or sport, since your average deer is just as likely to run like hell if she sees a hunter who might have a handgun in an ankle holster as she is if she sees a hunter brandishing a rifle.

What about the 18th-century idea of needing guns to defend our individual liberties against a tyrannical government? As the Bush administration has demonstrated, the feds don’t exactly need to send in the Marines to strip Americans of their basic freedoms—you know, stuff like free elections, privacy, due process, free speech and even that old standby of being “innocent until proven guilty.” The government just needs a convenient bogeyman (Islamic terrorism seems to do nicely) and a compliant media and voila!—constitutionally protected liberty disappears without a gunfight. (Just where were all the freedom-loving militiamen when Congress was passing the USA PATRIOT Act?)

That just leaves us with self-defense, the true crux of the concealed-carry debate.

And who, in these trying times, needs to defend themselves more than liberals?

Would the manic street preachers at this weekend’s Pride Parade so fiercely condemn marchers to an eternity in hell if they thought there might be a loaded pistol tucked into each of those rainbow-colored belts?

Would the old drunk guy leaning against the newspaper machine in front of Salem West be so quick to growl, “Yer all goin’ ta hell, ya goddamned pagans” if he thought the next random Wiccan out the door could pull a Glock out of her hat and send him to hell?

If the many Arab-Americans, Muslims and darker-than-lily-white people who have been trashed, bashed and harassed since 9/11 were armed, maybe fewer people would be brave enough to call them terrorists or towel-heads (at least to their faces).

And remember those millions of people marching in the streets during the late-winter build-up to the Iraq war? What if they all had legally hidden guns on their persons? They wouldn’t have been a peace movement, they’d have been an army.

This isn’t just a sarcastic, off-the-wall proposal. Some moderate and liberal groups are seriously embracing guns and gun rights as warmly as their conservative counterparts. In fact, one of the planks of the Libertarian Party is a completely hands-off approach to gun control. Banning guns or restricting ownership seemingly treats gun owners as criminals simply for possessing a tool the Constitution guarantees a right to, Libertarians believe.

And the gay community now has their own answer to the NRA, a loosely organized affiliation of local gun clubs called the Pink Pistols. The clubs were founded in part to shed the image of the helpless gay person who has to run to the heterosexual establishment for protection, instead of standing up to bullying gay bashers.

Pink Pistols clubs also serve as a sort of outreach between two usually incompatible groups, gays and gun rights activists. There are currently over 35 chapters nationwide.

Kim, a lesbian from Milford Center, and a group of about 12 people are in the process of starting the Central Ohio Pink Pistols, encouraged by friends from Free Ohio, an activist group with a libertarian slant. Kim expects the Pistols will meet once a month to shoot and talk about ways to avoid being victims of violence. (The motto on the national website: “Armed gays don’t get bashed.”)

The libertarian arguments for concealed carry—like those Kim is quick to offer—certainly make sense from that political orientation’s guiding philosophy: less laws equals a less oppressive government. But the “conservative” drive to liberalize gun laws through concealed carry is harder to make sense of.

Do right-wingers realize that it’s not just straight, white, Republican-voting men who will be able to carry hidden handguns to defend themselves?

You’d think conservatives would be scared of arming an America full of so many phantom enemies: animal rights terrorists, tree-sitting environmental agitators, agenda-pushing gays, godless pagans, castrating feminazis, suspicious Arab-Americans, crime-committing, drug-doing, welfare-sucking minorities—all potentially armed and dangerous.

Let’s assume it’s true that more guns equals less crime, as concealed-carry supporters often claim. Under this idea of mutually assured destruction, they argue, criminals are less likely to commit crimes if they fear their victims might be as heavily armed as they are.

Now take that a step further and arm all liberals, especially those who are appalled by the thought of loosening gun laws. Then perhaps anyone who harasses any of these groups—and let’s face it, we all still get &^%#ed with on some level on an almost daily basis—would have to start checking themselves before they wreck themselves.

Because in an armed state, you’ll never know when shooting off your mouth could get your ass shot.

It’s a rather disturbing thought, that in striving for freedom and security we could end up with a nation where everyone is scared of everyone else. But look at the bright side, liberals—if concealed carry does pass, Ohio could finally become a respectful, civil society for everyone. Even if it’s at gunpoint.

For more on concealed carry, click to ofcc.net or freeohio.us/pinkpistols.

Click here to read the editorial in Columbus Alive.

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