Guns, Politics, and Freedom
Asheville Park Posting

 

'Opinion' is irrelevant: Cities should obey the law
F. Paul Valone
December 20, 2013

Twenty years spent defending gun rights have taught me leftists regard words as malleable, inventing definitions as needed to bludgeon any who dare obstruct liberal self-gratification. But even I laughed at the audacity of mischaracterizing our demand that cities comply with state law as "bullying and threatening anyone...who does not share [our] extreme opinion."1

"Opinion" is irrelevant. In passing House Bill 937, the General Assembly expanded our successful concealed handgun law into restaurants, parks, educational properties, state government parking lots and elsewhere.2

Legislators didn't fast-track HB 937 despite the Newtown tragedy, but rather because of it: All but two U.S. mass shootings since 1950 occurred in ostensibly "gun free" zones of disarmed victims.3 By contrast, concealed handgun laws deter murder, rape, and aggravated assault. Not only was that demonstrated in controlled, multi-variate studies by John R. Lott and others4, it's happened here, where violent crime dropped 46% after passing concealed carry in 1995.5

The notion that concealed handgun permit-holders have "unlimited access and use of firearms" is absurd. For 18 years, permit-holders, after background checks and training, have proven themselves sane, sober and law-abiding, with fewer than three-tenths of one percent (0.3%) revoked, and nearly complete absence of crimes committed.6

Our success isn't unique. Whenever states expand concealed handgun laws, hand-wringers paint doomsday scenarios of shootouts at traffic lights, restaurants or playgrounds. Each time, they are wrong.

But that doesn't stop them from painting concealed handgun advocates as shills for gun manufacturers, the American Legislative Council (ALEC), or the NRA. (Relying entirely on unpaid volunteers, Grass Roots North Carolina is none of those.) An editorial here even equated permit-holders with murderers.7

Yet even concealed handgun laws' merits and opponents' disingenuity are irrelevant to the central issue: That local governments must obey the law.

When we expanded concealed carry into state and municipal parks in 2011, bureaucrats tortured statutory definitions to ban concealed carry where legislators had forbidden. Although allowed to adopt bans only in narrowly-defined "recreational facilities" such as athletic fields and swimming pools, cities like Winston-Salem and Blowing Rock redefined "recreational facility" to encompass whole parks, greenways and hiking trails. One city manager proposed defining an entire lake as a "swimming pool."

 

So this year we tightened the definition of "recreational facility" to exclude greenways, playgrounds and athletic fields (except during organized events), enabling 375,628 concealed handgun permit-holders8 to better protect their families and, more importantly, providing a deterrent to violent crime.

Some municipalities stonewalled. Raleigh simply refused to remove signage prohibiting concealed carry in parks. When we threatened litigation, they claimed removing signs was "too expensive." When they offered to remove some signs, we likened their partial compliance to citizens obeying noise ordinances only on alternating days. Only after noting that offending language could be covered with duct tape (and promising a national campaign to donate thousands of rolls of tape to the apparently destitute City of Raleigh) did Mayor Nancy McFarlane finally capitulate. (Unsurprisingly, McFarlane is one of Michael Bloomberg's "Mayors Against Illegal Guns.")

Maybe you support the expansion, maybe not. If not, console yourself that concealed handguns have been lawfully carried in parks since 2011 and next to you in grocery stores since 1995, both without predicted carnage.

Whatever your opinion, however, understand parks carry is the law. If you disagree, go to Raleigh and change it. Until then, be intellectually honest enough not to mischaracterize, as "bullying," efforts by volunteers who merely want cities to do what is required of you and me: Obey the law.