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In the discussion thread: 13 Shot Outside Arizona Nightclub [View all]

Response to Fearless (Reply #17)

Sat Mar 3, 2012, 01:04 PM

40. A brief lesson about carrying a gun

While the unlicensed concealed carrying of weapons is relatively recent, Arizona has allowed the unlicensed open carrying of handguns since at least 1912.

What Arizona actually did adopt a legal structure that has been in effect in Vermont since Vermont became a state. In Vermont, the state has no laws governing the carrying of handguns by anyone over the age of 16. Alaska, where carrying a firearm is almost required in some parts of the state, has a similar legal situation.

While incidents like the one described are unfortunate, they are, in fact, rare. Especially considering that millions of Americans have the lawful ability to carry a concealed weapon and recent polls show that almost half of American households contain one or more firearms of some type.

Fearless: Your statement shows that you do not understand concealed carry laws or the responsibilities one assumes when one chooses to go armed.

Carrying a handgun does not make a person a law enforcement officer nor does a permit or license confer the powers and immunities the law accords to law enforcement officers. The only legal way to play cop is to be one.

The law permits the carrying of a lethal weapon for defense of self and, in some states, defense of property. That means a person who is in fear of death or grave bodily injury to themselves or a family member is entitled to use lethal force to prevent it. Some jurisdictions, but not all, authorize similar action to prevent the death or injury of an unrelated third person being attacked by a criminal assailant. This allows one to be a Good Samaritan under very limited circumstances. The use of force by a private individual must cease as soon as the threat is ended: you can't shoot the guy who tried to mug you as he's running away; if he stops the assault for any reason, your justification for use of lethal force has ended. If he decides to escape, you let him. You can help the police to make an arrest, but in most places you can't make the arrest yourself.

In the shootout under discussion here, any private citizen trying to play cop or intervene would most likely aggravate the situation and escalate the body count, quite possibly including their own.

Anyone who is familiar with the realities of concealed (or open) carry will tell you that in a situation like this, the best thing you can do is leave and call the police. Don't draw or even display your weapon; don't become part of the problem the cops have to clean up: even if you are in the right, you would most likely be arrested and taken to jail until the police could sort things out. Depending on the circumstances, you might even face criminal charges.

Whether a person makes the choice to carry a gun or chooses not to is a personal election that should be respected so long as the person who elects to be armed understands and accepts the responsibilities of their decision. This includes the absolute abstention from becoming intoxicated from anything that might impair reasoning or emotional control and avoiding situations where there is likely to be trouble.

Incidentally, as you might guess, I decided many years ago that I would prefer to have a gun and not need it than to need a gun and not have it.

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