Saturday, August 03, 2013

Two gun stories

I live in Massachusetts, so there are some things I just don't understand.  Here are two examples from elsewhere in America:

A friend who does lobbying in Texas explained to me that people entering the Capitol building have to go through metal detectors.  Except people who have a CHL--concealed handgun license--who can bypass the metal detector by showing the license to the security guard.

The New York Times confirmed this in a story this past spring, noting:

Texas lawmakers . . . described carrying weapons in the Capitol as a personal security habit, doing what they did elsewhere in the state, whether shopping, dining, praying or driving. They also wear their weapons, they said, for the same reason they keep jacks in their vehicles and fresh batteries in their smoke detectors at home. They said there was a difference between being paranoid and being prepared.

So only the people who don't have guns have to go through the metal detectors.

In California:

A KGO-TV news crew was robbed at gunpoint of camera equipment while accompanied by a security guard in West Oakland in broad daylight.

A station official did not respond to a request for comment.

 I'm kind of a loss for words myself.


Anonymous said...

"So only the people who don't have guns have to go through the metal detectors."

Just from what you've presented, no. What it says is "Only those who have demonstrated to the State's satisfaction that they can be trusted to carry guns are allowed to bypass the gun check (whether or not they are carrying one). All others must surrender weapons and be checked to be sure they have."

It's OK to not like guns, but spin like this is beneath you.

Paul Levy said...

I actually enjoy shooting guns, having learned to do so at a young age. It can be great sport.

I'm sorry you don't like the way I set out the story: Exempting someone from a security check because they hold a license just doesn't make sense to me.

Anonymous said...

This happens all the time. For example, peace officers of whatever jurisdiction are routinely waved through checkpoints by virtue of being licensed by some authority.

The point of the license is trust. Just as peace officers are trusted to use guns responsibly (although some don't) the State of Texas has elected to trust those who have passed their licensing strictures.

I have no idea what those strictures are nor whether they're appropriate and posit that there is where discussion is proper.

As for me, while I enjoyed target shooting when I was younger I have no desire to carry a gun as I have no confidence that I would be able to use one safely in a stressful situation without far more practice than is practical for me.

Nevertheless, I found your original comment pejorative and contrary to the facts as you presented them.

I expected better of you.

Paul Levy said...

So you think an unlicensed person with a gun is going to try to go through the metal detector? Hence my comment that only people without guns will go through the detector.

BTW, peace officers are not just licensed: They are highly trained. Also, they have badges and do not generally have concealed weapons. When they are concealed, in other jurisdictions, they still have to show the guns to the security guards.

Anonymous said...

"So you think an unlicensed person with a gun is going to try to go through the metal detector?"

Just ask TSA how many guns they confiscate each year.

No, they don't have to show the gun (that can be unsafe) but have to show a license (photo ID or badge)

As for what a license requires in the way of training, that's dependent on the jurisdiction and is appropriate to that jurisdiction to determine.

When peace officers are in mufti they are still generally armed (appropriately). The form of the license (easily forged or stolen badge vs photo ID) is irrelevant.

You are presuming that the training requirements of Texas CHL carriers is insufficient; Texas doesn't seem to think so. I have no idea what's true.

It's my understanding that despite the training of most peace officers, gun exchanges even at close range have most rounds wildly off target.

Hence my lack of interest in carrying.

Paul Levy said...

Well, at least we agree on the last point (for both of us!) Thanks for your thoughts.

Mark Graban said...

As someone who moved to Texas and has only handled a gun a few times, here are my thoughts... I'd be curious to see crime data on the number of gun crimes committed by CHL holders. Being trained well enough and passing a background check for the CHL doesn't guarantee somebody wouldn't commit a crime.

That said, there are enough people around me with guns (not that you know that), that I don't irrationally being shot by somebody randomly when at the store. I don't think about it one way or another. If a bad person with a gun was doing something, I trust there are enough good people around with guns to stop them. I feel safer than I would in an artificial and supposed "gun free zone."

That said, I'm surprised CHL holders are able to carry them into our state capitol, since they are not allowed into bars, etc.

Actually, here is data on CHL holder convictions vs. general population in Texas (not necessarily gun crimes):

0.1884% of all crimes are committed by CHL holders. 2% of Texans have a CHL.

I guess that's proof that CHL holders are *generally* law abiding. But that doesn't guarantee a CHL holder wouldn't shoot up the capitol.

Anonymous said...

please define highly trained? This is an assumption most people make. I suppose it could be true depending on how you define highly trained, but I bet you'd be a bit discouraged and not use that term to describe police officers if you understood how easy it is to become one, especially when it comes to handling guns.... This is especially true in states that aren't gun friendly and don't have a lot of folks growing up comfortable shooting. They lower the bar even more on the shooting requirements because the recruits just don't have the experience.

I carry a gun everywhere it's legal and will gladly put my shooting ability, including judgment, up against any highly trained officers'.

As to the above poster who doesn't carry because of the belief that many shots will go off target, does this mean police officers shouldn't carry? I would submit that most any average joe who desires to invest in the time, training, etc, to safely carry a gun is just as capable as the average police officer. No evidence suggests otherwise. The public blindly trusts one group, and generally demonizes the other. Oh well...

Anonymous said...

"As to the above poster who doesn't carry because of the belief that many shots will go off target, does this mean police officers shouldn't carry?"

No, of course not. It's my personal decision and not one I'd impose on others.

Peace officers, by virtue of their profession, have to face ugly choices that I'd rather not have to deal with. My hat's off to them.

Because we as a society require them to make the right decision in very trying moments, we cut them some slack not given to private citizens. Most of the time they do the right thing; sometimes, alas, not so much.

It's not so much that I think I don't have the ability to handle a gun safely as that the decision to use one or not is far more difficult than most suppose.

I don't think most peace officers are given more GUN training than most civilians can get on their own. It's that constant on-the-job training in street-smarts and situational awareness is something I don't have access to and that makes me feel unprepared to make the right decisions, especially as I won't get the slack accorded peace officers.

Again, it's a purely personal decision; I make no judgments on the decisions of others until events play out.