John Grady was kind enough to share with us an essay he wrote for his College Class on the topic of Arizona's new Constitutional Carry law:
Arizona Concealed Carry
Arizona has much history involving the “Wild West”; Doc Holiday, Wyatt, Vigil, and Morgan Earp, “gun-slinging”, and the shoot-out at the O.K. Corral. On July 29, 2010, many believe this day will be ushering in the reincarnation of the Wild West. From this date forward, any US citizen in the state of Arizona, age 21 and older with no felonies on record may carry a concealed firearm without a permit. This new law has raised many questions, and is in many ways controversial. Is it a bad idea? What kind of change will we see in society, if any? Will we see more crime or less? Let us analyze the concept of carrying a concealed firearm, potential scenarios where this new law may come into play, and our Second Amendment rights.
You may be asking yourself, “What is the definition of ‘Concealed Carry’?” Concealed carry is when an individual carries a firearm, specifically a handgun, on their person in a manner that is unseen by the public eye. Before this new law, it is an illegal act to carry a firearm in a concealed fashion without a license, punishable by incarceration for up to six months, and a fine of up to $2500. To obtain this license, one must be at least 21 years of age and go through an 8 hour course that includes subjects on use of force, legality, concealing techniques, and shooting qualification at the shooting range. Additionally, one must be able to pass a background check.
The requirement of a license has kept a very small amount of control over criminal activity in which a concealed handgun was involved. As we see in society today, gun laws never effect the “bad guys”. Many individuals involved in crime, organized or not, are obviously not concerned in upholding the law, but rather breaking it and thus not concerned with taking the time or paying the cost of getting a concealed carry license... Not to mention the fact that most have at least one felony on their record, disqualifying them from being able to receive a license in the first place. This means that when one of these individuals are caught with a concealed firearm, they are put behind bars. But what happens when one of these jailbirds gets out of prison? A recent study by the Criminal Justice Reform Coalition shows that over half the individuals that get out of jail go right back to committing crimes and end up being thrown back in prison again. As many of you who watch the news and read the newspaper can see, this is just an endless cycle. The majority of these gangsters carry a firearm in an illegal, concealed fashion on a daily basis.
Where does this leave the citizens who uphold the law, but don’t have the time or the money to go through the course? Where does this leave the gentleman who is just buying a pack of smokes when an armed gunman decides to hold up the Circle-K? He can’t exactly defend himself or others with a box of Marlboro “Reds”. What about the woman who is just walking to her car in a dark parking lot at night when a potential rapist corners her? What happens when her pepper spray isn’t enough? Maybe she owns a pistol but doesn’t have it in her purse to protect herself with because she is in a situation in which she doesn’t have the money or time to get her license. This, in my opinion, is a violation of our Second Amendment right to bear arms and to protect ourselves. Many people find themselves in similar situations. Many people own a firearm, but don’t have a concealed carry license. Now, with this new law, a law-abiding citizen may conceal a firearm on their person without the once required license, and have a chance to defend themselves, should they find themselves in a less than favorable situation.
Could this new law create a safer environment? I most certainly believe it can, and will. An armed and ready public can discourage a vast majority of criminal acts, from robbery, to violent crimes and rape. In Arizona, you will see a drop in crime rates, because now there is the “Unknown Factor” that the crook has to worry about. Before the individual commits a crime, s/he will have to consider that many of the people present could be carrying a concealed weapon. The whole room could be concealing a firearm, which makes for some very unfavorable odds if you are about to rob the place.
Kennesaw, Georgia provides a perfect example of what this law can do for the public. In March 1982, the small town passed an ordinance requiring each head of household to own and maintain a gun. Since then, despite similar predictions of "Wild West" showdowns, increased violence and accidents we are hearing now, not a single resident has been involved in a fatal shooting. That’s 28 years murder-free, as compared to Morton Grove, Illinois, who adopted a gun ban for everyone other than police, and witnessed their crime rate go up 15.7% despite predictions of the opposite occurring.
This new law, in my opinion will employ the “Sheepdog Concept”, as Lt. Col. Dave Grossman puts it in his book “On Combat”. The Sheepdog Concept is where the “sheepdog”, or protector in this scenario, sees a “sheep”, or victim, suffering an injustice or a violent crime by a “wolf”, or perpetrator. The sheepdog cannot just stand by and watch, but must step in to protect the sheep from the wolf. The sheepdog cannot abide with injustice. Don’t confuse the Sheepdog Concept with vigilantism. We aren’t talking about the Boondock Saints here. The sheepdogs of society don’t go looking for trouble, but are ready, should they encounter it. For instance, a man who is carrying a concealed firearm under this new law, witnesses a woman being robbed at gunpoint. The man decides to step in and use his firearm to save the woman, and possibly preserve her life. Now that people may carry concealed, I believe it will give many a feeling that they can have an impact and actually make a difference in a similar situation because they have the tool at their disposal to do so with.
In December 2007, Matthew J. Murray, an armed gunman, killed multiple individuals at a youth center in Arvada, California. He then proceeded to drive to New Life Church in Colorado Springs to do the same. When he arrived at the church, he pulled out his firearm and open fired in the parking lot and the foyer, killing two people and wounding three. Out of hundreds of people present, Jeanne Assam had a concealed carry license and a pistol in her purse. She drew it from her purse and shot Murray multiple times, wounding him so severely that he ended up taking his own life. This woman was prepared for a day that she probably thought she would never see. This woman was a sheepdog and she could not abide with the injustice this gunman was inflicting. She saved lives that day. Imagine if a large portion of the population was prepared in such a manner. Would the gunman have even considered pulling this move with the “Unknown Factor”? Even if he did, he most likely wouldn’t have made it out of the Youth Center he shot up.
With the new law, we are seeing support of our Second Amendment right that hasn’t been in play since the early 1900’s. This law is a major restoration of our principal right to defend ourselves and the lives of others. It is pertinent that we exercise our right to bear arms, now that a huge portion of it is being given back to us. I encourage everyone who is going to utilize this new law to be responsible, and to educate yourself on the legal aspects on use of force, as well as the types of establishments in which you can and cannot carry your weapon. You can find this information on Arizona’s Department of Public safety website. I also encourage you to go out to the shooting range and practice, so if you ever see a day in which you may have to use your weapon (and I pray you never see that day), your shots will be precise and well placed. Don’t be afraid to carry a concealed weapon!