Debate Club

Carrying a Firearm Puts the Community at Risk

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Openly carrying a loaded weapon in public is best left to highly trained individuals like law enforcement professionals. Before we give a law enforcement officer the awesome responsibility of carrying a firearm, we require that officer to have extensive training. This process ensures that he or she can shoot straight and has the judgment to use that weapon responsibly.

If you want to use a firearm in your home, the risk is primarily to yourself and your family. Out in the community, however, there should be vigorous standards to protect the rest of us from any potential misuse of your weapon. George Zimmerman forever put to rest the idea that untrained individuals have the judgment to police their neighborhoods with guns.

[See a collection of editorial cartoons on the Trayvon Martin tragedy.]

Unfortunately, 28 states currently allow residents to openly carry loaded guns in public without any permitting, screening, or training requirement. Moreover, in those states, individuals can buy guns through private sales without undergoing a background check. That means that residents can carry guns on the street without law enforcement having any idea of whether they have a criminal record, mental health issues, history of domestic violence or substance abuse, etc., etc.

Nine additional states allow open carry via a "Shall-Issue" permitting system like the one Zimmerman went through to get his concealed carry permit in Florida. In these states, the background checks conducted on applicants are shallow and cursory. Training requirements are minimal, never exceeding a single day of training (if there is a training requirement at all). You might recall that Zimmerman assaulted a police officer and was the subject of a prior restraining order and still got his carry permit.

[Read: The Real Reason the Left Is Attacking ALEC.]

Open carry is not only dangerous to our communities but to the very foundation of our democracy. In a fascinating new article for the New Yorker, journalist Jill Lepore said something that strongly echoes my own beliefs about contemporary America. "When carrying a...weapon for self-defense is understood not as a failure of civil society, to be mourned, but as an act of citizenship, to be vaunted," Lepore noted, "there is little civilian life left."

According to the Roberts Supreme Court, the Second Amendment protects an individual's right to bear arms to protect "hearth and home." Carrying a loaded gun in public is therefore a privilege that can, and should be regulated by the state for the benefit of all Americans.

About Joshua Horwitz Executive Director of the Coalition to Stop Gun Violence

Tags
gun control and gun rights
Second Amendment

Other Arguments

#1
1,309 Pts
An Armed Society is Truly a Polite Society

Yes – An Armed Society is Truly a Polite Society

Jerry Henry Executive Director for GeorgiaCarry.Org

#2
1,012 Pts
Open Carry Laws Benefit Public Safety

Yes – Open Carry Laws Benefit Public Safety

John Pierce Co-founder of OpenCarry.org

#3
916 Pts
In Parts of the Country, Open Carry Hardly Raises an Eyebrow
#4
859 Pts
Open Carry Deters Crime

Yes – Open Carry Deters Crime

Larry Pratt Executive Director of Gun Owners of America

#5
847 Pts
Open Carry is Already Legal Under the Constitution

Yes – Open Carry is Already Legal Under the Constitution

Ralph Shortey Republican State Senator in Oklahoma

#6
-1,016 Pts
Open Carrying: Provocative Conduct, Dangerous Consequences

No – Open Carrying: Provocative Conduct, Dangerous Consequences

Lindsay Nichols Staff Attorney with Legal Community Against Violence

#7
-1,022 Pts
Open Carry Is an Invitation to Chaos

No – Open Carry Is an Invitation to Chaos

Constance N. Johnson Democratic State Senator in Oklahoma

#8
-1,030 Pts
Guns, Carried Openly or Concealed, Threaten Our Safety

No – Guns, Carried Openly or Concealed, Threaten Our Safety

Josh Sugarmann Founder and Executive Director of the Violence Policy Center

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