Saturday, September 22, 2018

The evil of the handgun permitting process

More than two decades ago, Tennessee passed a "shall-issue" handgun carry law, requiring the Tennessee Department of Safety to issue a handgun carry permit to any citizen who takes the required training, has a clean record, is mentally competent, and has enough money to pay for the privilege.

Source: Jeff Dege, used with permission

As the animated graphic shows, states have continually enacted laws, that have gone variously from no issue to may issue to shall issue. And some have moved all the way to Constitutional Carry! The legislatures and governors of these states have been recognizing that the typical crime does not occur when the police are nearby. Most crimes occur outside the home. Police most often can only clean up after the crime, take a report and start looking for the perpetrator.

While the permitting process in Tennessee and other states has certainly improved the situation for citizens, they still place an undue burden on the peaceful citizen, but not on the criminal.

In Vermont, it is lawful to carry a firearm openly or concealed provided the firearm is not carried with the intent or avowed purpose of injuring a fellow man. No permit is needed. Thus, in Vermont, citizens are not required to get a permit to carry a firearm. The State of Vermont has long recognized the right of its good citizens to defend themselves while away from home without the need of a permit.

In 2014, Tennessee joined most of the surrounding states, and does do not require a permit to carry a loaded firearm in a vehicle, but still requires a permit if one is to carry a handgun on or about the person. 
The permitting costs vary widely from state to state. If one gets a permit in Georgia, the current cost in Muscogee County is $75.00 for five years, The current cost for a Tennessee permit is $100.00 for eight years.

. . . . plus $85 more or less in Tennessee for the required training. This may not seem like a lot to you and me, but that is a lot of money for someone working for minimum wage, or a retired citizen on a fixed income.

The permitting system, as a result, actually disables good citizens who desire to comply with the law, but can't afford the financial burden of the permitting process. These citizens must make a difficult choice. Take their handgun with them and risk arrest or leave it at home and take a greater risk of death or serious injury if attacked.

Should a criminal be required to get a carry permit?

Yes? If you answer yes, then you need to understand a longstanding Supreme Court decision. The Court decided in 1968 (Haynes v. U.S.) that felons would not be required to comply with any gun registration laws:
Consider a law that requires registration of firearms: a convicted felon can not be convicted for failing to register a gun, because it is illegal under Federal law for a felon to possess a firearm; but a person who can legally own a gun, and fails to register it, can be punished. In short, the person at whom, one presumes, such a registration law is aimed, is the one who cannot be punished, and yet, the person at whom such a registration law is not principally aimed (i.e., the law-abiding person), can be punished.

In a similar manner, the Tennessee permitting system effectively registers the handgun owner. Obviously, requiring the criminal to apply for a permit would be foolish. A felon's truthful answer to all the questions on the application would ensure denial of his application. It would also give law enforcement officers reason to believe that he was in possession of a handgun, which, for him, would be a crime. Thus he would have incriminated himself.

No? If you correctly answer no, you will probably argue that the criminal is not going to get a permit any way. He is going to carry his handgun whenever and wherever he sees fit. To him the handgun is just a tool to use while plying his illicit trade. He would be no more interested in getting a permit than a carpenter would be in getting one for his hammer and saw.

Felons have been forbidden ownership of firearms since passage of the 1968 Gun Control Act. They cannot legally own nor carry a gun or ammo for any purpose. If they acquire a gun, they violate the law. If they carry a gun, they violate the law.

If the permitting process (for criminals) is prohibited by the 5th amendment and/or ignored by the criminal, what is really accomplished by the process? Clearly, the permitting process would be a wasted effort with the criminal element of society.

Should a decent citizen be required to get a carry permit?

Yes? We need permits so that police will know who's carrying a gun. But, criminals don't get permits. What good does it do for police to know who the "good guys" are that are carrying a gun. This response is not valid. And now, Tennessee has four year's experience with non-permitted carry in vehicles. Police don't know who these individuals are when they make a traffic stop.

Yes? We need to insure that people that carry firearms have proper, adequate training. But, police who are trained extensively have a dismal record of one shot stops. Or stops with two or three shots.

Obviously, anyone who is going to keep a firearm for protection at home or bear one away from home needs training. But, states that have long allowed non-permitted car carry do not report any significant problems. We don't see newspaper reports of "untrained Georgia citizens" mistakenly shooting someone. Yet, Tennessee recognizes Georgia permits, as well as all other states' permits.

No? Bingo. There is NO common sense nor logic in requiring citizens to get carry permits. The major accomplishment of the process is to supply states with a registration database of legitimate firearms owners. Is this the real goal? Does this owner registration process serve any legitimate purpose in a free society. I think not!

Ultimately, the permitting process amounts to a prior restraint on a Constitutional right. One must ask permission from the State prior to exercising this right. One might even say it is tantamount to a poll tax on a right. Newspaper editors or television anchors would raise a bloody ruckus if told their reporters had to get a permit before exercising their First Amendment freedom of the press.

But, in an expansion of the ante-bellum slave codes, we must ask permission of our Master, the State, to exercise a natural right, a fundamental right, a Divinely ordained, Constitutionally guaranteed right. 

Gun rights advocates in all states should lobby their legislatures ceaselessly until permits are no longer required*.
*We reluctantly note that permits should be maintained as optional to provide for continued reciprocity with other states.

NOTE: This is an updated version of a previously published particle.


Jay said...

On "required" training. Do it right, and you might get arrested - but unless your incident happens in a jurisdiction with a politically motivated liberal prosecutor, you'll probably not be charged or be "no billed" by a grand jury. Do it wrong and you can expect hard time. But that is true if you face a home invasion and fire your unconcealed castle doctrine protected single shot shotgun at a perp in your own home! If he's coming at you, no problem. If he sees it and turns and runs and you shoot him in the back in the middle of the front yard...not so much.

So what's different from in the home, on your property, in your car on the public roads, or a business's public parking lot (car carry) or on the street (concealed carry). ALL the same rules apply, and all the same training works! The only thing that might change is a duty to retreat (if CC in public in a state without stand your ground laws) or car (in states that don't consider your car an extension of your home and thus fall under castle doctrine).

In other words - YOU NEED TRAINING - but concealed carry has nothing to do with it. If you possess a gun for self defense, you need to know how to handle it safely and the laws concerning use of deadly force - regardless of if you ever carry it outside your home.

Liston Matthews said...

Yes, Jay, I advocate training. Training is good. As in any endeavor, the better trained someone is, the more likely their success.

Mandatory training for ALL high school juniors and seniors would suit me.

On the other hand, I have seen many newspaper accounts over the years of people with no training prevailing against a bad guy.

Jay Dee said...

Growing up in rural Missouri, I recall a candidate for reelection as County Sheriff publicly stated that he "never gave no pistol permits to Jews, niggers and uppity females!" That friends is the pistol permitting process.

Liston Matthews said...

Jay Dee,
When I got my Pistol Toter's License in Georgia in the 70's (yes they had them then), I have a feeling I might have been denied if I had a different skin tone. I will never know for sure.