Contrary to what some readers (Jerry, that includes you) might think, I really do consider myself a decent supporter of the Second Amendment.
So far, the NRA has not asked me to cut up my card and send it back. No one at any of the local gun and ammo shops offered to pistol whip me for being open to the idea of some changes in our rather - dare I use the word? - liberal laws that make it a little too easy for anyone to get hold of a gun, including those who are declared mentally unstable. (We can argue the point about those not yet declared unstable but otherwise exhibit signs another time.)
I admit to having concerns about relaxing our laws to the extent concealed weapons permit holders would be able to carry in restaurants that serve alcohol. I also readily admit, and even argue, CWP holders are less likely the ones any patrons would or should have to worry about in such situations. Why? Generally speaking, those who take a course and get a permit to carry a concealed weapon are hardly inclined to go anywhere looking for a gunfight. If anything, they typically steer clear of those and will only draw their weapon as needed for self-defense. Or to defend others by proxy.
OH, AND I'LL EVEN GO SO FAR as to note, as do others, CWP holders who have to leave their weapons at home or locked in their cars relegated their protection to the restaurant personnel or police. Hardly comforting in the event someone enters the restaurant and holds it up or goes on a shooting spree himself. Still, guns and alcohol are not a great mix and I'm not wholly convinced the pending legislation is the best.
That said, the news lately in the Lakelands is enough to make some people reconsider their stance on gun ownership. Consider Friday's carjacking on Seaboard Avenue.
The incident started off harmlessly enough. Granted, it was 4 in the morning, but two men were driving along Seaboard, having left a nightclub. A man flags them down, they stop to help. The man walks up to the auto window and draws a gun from his pocket. Three more men show up. The victims were not injured. They had cellphones stolen and eventually even got their vehicle back, but you get the point. Something like this can happen to anyone, anywhere, anytime.Now, no one can really say whether having a gun would have made a difference for the victims. Frankly, if one or both had a weapon but chose not to have it ready when initially approached by the person who seemingly was in distress, that's potentially no better than having no gun at all. But clearly, people will weigh their options more and more as these nearly daily reports of shootings arise.
THE DECISION TO CARRY AND have a weapon as a means of protecting oneself, one's family and home is a personal one. I certainly would not advocate everyone should walk around with a gun or even have one at home if he is afraid of a gun. By the same token, I would strongly recommend anyone who opts to have a gun for protection know how to use it. And by it, I mean the particular weapon or weapons he has for protection. They're not all the same, so yes, knowing what you have and how to use it is a prerequisite. Yes, it can and should be likened to owning and operating a vehicle.
Having a gun and choosing to carry one - legally, and with the knowledge of how to properly use it - does not automatically give the gun owner the upper hand in situations. The upper hand generally belongs to the one who has the element of surprise. That said, having an umbrella but leaving it in the trunk of your car and getting caught in a rainstorm does little to protect you from the rain.
The point to all this? Not much more than to say the rise in violent crimes in our area is apparent and I fully expect to see a corresponding rise in the number of people who make the choice to arm themselves.
IS THAT GOOD? Is that bad? I'd rather have the option of protecting myself, my family and my home than relying on someone else; law enforcement can only do so much, be so many places, respond in so many minutes. If nothing else, it's a bit of a sad commentary on us as a society.
Whiting is executive editor of the Index-Journal. Contact him at 943-2522; email email@example.com ,or follow him on Twitter at IJEDITOR. Views expressed in this column are those of the writer only and do not represent the newspaper's opinion.