While I never have carried a firearm in public, it was never my understanding that my Second Amendment rights (insofar as they are recognized at all) are limited to the boundary lines of private property belonging to me. I have always believed that I carry my constitutional rights with me as I walk about in the public space. Is that inexcusably naïve?
I live in Pennsylvania, where you need a permit to carry a concealed weapon, but Pennsylvania is a “shall issue” state, which means they have to issue you a permit if you meet the requirements. Nevertheless if you do not have a concealed carry permit, you can still keep and bear arms in public. Pennsylvania is an Open Carry state, and the cops know it. I have personally met law abiding private citizens who go around with a holstered gun on their hip. The cops leave them alone because they know it is legal. California also recognizes the Second Amendment right to openly carry an unloaded firearm, but that may be about to change. Combine that with the fact that California is a “may issue” state rather than a “shall issue” state regarding Concealed Carry permits, Californians constitutional right to keep and bear arms guaranteed by the Second Amendment may suddenly end at each citizen’s private property line. What happens in California can happen in Pennsylvania, and an option I have freely chosen not to exercise as of this date may cease to exist for me altogether.
If I lost my right to keep and bear arms in public, that by itself would not necessarily affect my day to day routine, since I never exercise that right as of this writing. But it certainly affects my liberty, which is more important to me. It affects my self-concept as a citizen. It provokes questions that absolutely need answering, but for which there are no answers yet. If I can lose one constitutional right automatically, without due process, merely by continuing to live in a certain state, which of my other constitutional rights are up for grabs? Which other constitutional rights are subject to being limited in their application to my private property while I am on it, and effectively cease to exist the moment I step off my property and enter the public space? Are First Amendment rights subject to the same restriction? It would seem so. If I don’t have the right to pray on public property, such as in school, then my right to the free exercise of my religion is effectively cancelled out by the establishment clause. If I don’t have a right to refuse to be Nude Scanned and genitally groped by government agents at an airport, then my Fourth Amendment rights are clearly gone. Where else can the govenment decide to intrusively search me? Airports today, where else tomorrow? As each infringement of constitutional rights is tolerated and allowed to become the new norm, another nail is driven into the coffin of American liberty.
“Just because one person is comfortable with their weapon doesn’t mean that that gives that person the right to infringe on the rights of other people who aren’t comfortable….You don’t need a hand gun to order a cheeseburger. You don’t need a hand gun to get a cup of coffee.” – California Assemblyman Anthony Portantino, author of Assembly bill 144, seeking to abolish the open carry of hand guns by private citizens in public.
Portantino needs to be reminded of a fact that people who haven’t had their common sense bleached out of them by liberal propaganda know very well: there are armed criminals out there, and they rob and kill people. The point is not that you know you need a gun to go shopping or grab a bite to eat. The point is that you never know where you will need a gun. You might find yourself in a siutation where you need to defend yourself and your loved ones anywhere, anytime. Anyone might need that at any moment. Yes, even people at fast food restaraunts and diners in broad daylight, people who did not think they needed a gun to go out and “order a cheeseburger” or “get a cup of coffee”. You don’t think you may need to be able defend yourself in ordinary everyday situations such as those? Tell that to the family of Mary Hutchison, robbed and murdered in a Lindenhurst Illinois Burger King in 2006. Yes, it’s true. Google that. I’m not making it up. Tell that to the people robbed by 22 year old Angel Marcias last Thanksgiving in the Black Bear Diner in Walnut Creek, CA, or at the Fuddruckers in the nearby Willows shopping center earlier in the year.
“Most of the robberies occurred at shopping centers along Oak Grove Road in Walnut Creek and Concord. Most also involved suspects armed with guns. The Black Bear Diner robbers were armed with a baseball bat and knife. While most of the businesses hit were restaurants, fast-food outlets or coffee shops, the most recent robbery on Tuesday evening took place at the Chase Bank in Citrus Plaza.”
If one law abiding citizen in one of the locations were legally carrying a gun, the baseball bat and knife wielding criminals could have been peacefully disarmed and the spree would have ended right then and there.
Here are some more gems of wisdom from the mouth of Assemblyman Portantino:
“The second amendment to the constitution allows people to defend their private property”
Question: That includes your person?
Portantino’s Answer: “It includes your person but, in California we also have sworn officers who are there to serve and protect the public.”
Let me translate that, because while that looks just like English, it is not. It is Liberalese, which always masquerades as a genuine use of some authentic human language, but is invariably used to express a meaning that is the exact opposite of what it appears to say in the language it is masquerading as. “It includes your person BUT” … but everything before “but” is bullshit in Liberalese… “In Califonia we ALSO have sworn officers: — translation: “Most definitely NOT ‘also’. The word ‘also’ means, ‘in addition to’. But I don’t think that we have police to supplement and support your right to defend yourself in public, but rather, they are there because you have no such right in public. When I say ‘also’, I am using Liberalese, not English, and here, that word means what would be signified by ‘instead’ if I were speaking English rather than Liberalese.”
But perhaps the Assemblyman thinks that open carriers of firearms are contributing to gun violence? What say you, sir?
“As of this moment there have not been any deaths or injuries, to my knowledge, through open carry.”
But it is important to end this right whose exercise has harmed no one, by your admission?
“We’re here to avoid the tragedy.”
Well, on that note, how many crimes have been prevented by the presence of ordinary citizns walking around with a gun visibly on their person? How many would-be criminals saw someone with a holster where he wanted to commit a crime and decided, “OOPS! Not here! Not today!” And how many such crimes never wound up taking place elsewhere, because the would-be criminal found, the next day, that the need he perceived to commit the crime became significantly less urgent or ceased to be altogether? We’ll never know for sure, I suppose, but if California ends Open Carry, we may get some idea by the spike in violent crimes that is certain to occur in the absence of armed ordinary law abiding citizens.
Portantino is like every other leftist in government who wants to clamp down on the real rights of Americans. They all pose as if they are protecting some OTHER more or less vague rights. Thus the “right to privacy” trumps the right of a person in the womb to continue to live if that right would “infringe”, in some way, on the woman whose consensual adult behavior resulted in that person being in the womb in the first place. And now some people have a right to be comfortable, and that trumps the real constitutional right to keep and bear arms, whose exercise would “infringe” on some other person’s more important unconstitutional Right to be Comfortable. I suppose it is the same “Right to be Comfortable” that is being enforced when school children have items of religious significance confiscated from them in public school. It is always Other People who have the rights that count, those who would be made to feel uncomfortable by the exercise of constitutional rights. The actual constitutional rights, and those who exercise them, do not count at all. You cannot pray in a classroom! It would make someone else (who?) uncomfortable! But what if it makes me uncomfortable to have my first and second amendment rights taken away? What if it makes me uncomfortable to know that as I move about in public I am unable to defend myself if I encounter someone who wishes to harm me? Oh, that’s ok. You don’t have a right to be comfortable. Yes, Other People do, but you don’t.
Okay, maybe I am too conservative to be among those who enjoy some dubious right to be comfortable. All I have are my constitutional rights. But which constitutional rights can I count on, and which are vulnerable and can be taken away? I just want to understand the rules.