By Jeff Knox
Buckeye, AZ –-(Ammoland.com)- We all love those “Stupid Criminal” stories, like the guy pretending to cash a check before pulling a gun and robbing the bank – leaving the check and his Driver’s License on the counter, or the guys who broke into the gun store by breaking a hole in the roof only to find all of the guns locked in safes, the windows barred, the alarm going off, and no ladder to get back up through the hole…
But, while low IQ is a common trait of criminals, even slow learners can still learn.
Back in 1987, when Florida passed their highly publicized law liberalizing concealed carry of firearms, criminals figured out that it was safer to target tourists – who were less likely to be legally armed. This became so prevalent that many rental car companies removed identifying stickers and license plate frames from their cars as a precautionary measure.
Now enterprising criminals have begun targeting vehicles with decals and bumper stickers advertising an enthusiasm for firearms. That alone isn’t really new; gun owners have for years recognized that an NRA sticker or a decal from their favorite gun company on their vehicle is a double-edged sword. On the one hand, it announces that the vehicle’s owner probably owns guns and that someone looking to steal guns might target them. On the other hand, it announces that the owner probably owns guns and that anyone trying to steal from them runs an elevated risk of being shot. What is new is the fact that criminals are now targeting gun-labeled vehicles specifically when they’re in the parking lots of guns-prohibited places.
As restrictions on the right to bear arms have crumbled over the past 25 years, those who opposed the whole idea of personal defense carry have grasped at any straw to make carry more expensive, cumbersome, and legally dangerous. One of their strategies has been to make as many places as they can “Off Limits” to legally armed citizens. In the worst cases, such as Illinois, violating the Off Limits zone carries severe criminal penalties.
Proponents justify these restrictions with questions like “Why does anyone need a gun in a church,” or platitudes like “Guns and alcohol don’t mix,” as if violent crime doesn’t happen in and around these places and people who routinely carry for personal protection everywhere else suddenly become too irresponsible to carry in some places.
Of course, none of these “bans” has any effect on those with criminal intentions – or average scofflaws for that matter. Criminals, by definition, break laws, and a law that forbids the carry of concealed handguns is pretty easy to ignore. After all, the handgun is concealed so, unless there is controlled access, with guards and metal detectors at every entrance, who’s to know who has a handgun in their purse or a shotgun under their coat? Some places, particularly government buildings (where the expense is borne by you and me), have implemented such security, but in most “Gun Free Zones,” the only motivation for a person to obey the restriction is the person’s own conscience. Since licensed firearms carriers are among the most scrupulously law-abiding in the country, the majority, when they must enter an area that is posted “No Guns,” will obey the sign and leave their sidearm in their vehicle – at risk of theft by smash-and-grab thieves who are, according to police, lying in wait for just such opportunities.
Last month, the University Division of the Charlotte, North Carolina police arrested a crew of thieves they said were doing just that, looking for guns and specifically targeting vehicles with firearm-related stickers on them. Police said they have seen a rise in auto break-ins in the parking lots of buildings and businesses where guns are prohibited, and again, the stickers and decals are part of the pattern, though there have been cases where guns were stolen from cars that weren’t advertising an affinity for firearms. Police suspect that thieves might have read other clues such as the type of vehicle, the driver’s clothing, or actually observing the driver going through the process of removing a gun and tucking it away in the car before entering the building.
The first suggestion from Charlotte police was that gun owners should consider leaving their guns at home if they’re planning to visit a “Gun Free” establishment.
To a person who routinely carries for personal protection, that idea is as ludicrous as suggesting that, since police vehicles have also been targeted by gun thieves, police should consider leaving their guns at the station until they’re actually needed for a gunfight.
Others have suggested that carry licensees should install small gun safes in their vehicles. While that’s not a terrible idea, it’s certainly not the answer for everyone. Some can’t afford the expense of a quality gun safe or the complication of installing one in a way that is secure and doesn’t damage the vehicle. And this still leaves the problem of forcing people to handle loaded firearms more than necessary in the cramped confines of a vehicle.
Of course the easiest solution is to simply remove the useless restrictions that only impact the law-abiding and retain the guns where they are safe and secure – in a holster on the owner’s belt.
Businesses and government facilities that insist on disarming visitors should bear full liability for any harm that befalls someone due to these policies.
That sort of commonsense solution just terrifies hoplophobes like Dianne Feinstein and Mike Bloomberg though, and it frightens too many state and local politicians as well. Every bit of progress in restoring the right to arms must be chipped out like carving stone – by constantly hammering at the granite-like ignorance and irrational fears of politicians and some members of the public.
The Firearms Coalition is a loose-knit coalition of individual Second Amendment activists, clubs and civil rights organizations. Founded by Neal Knox in 1984, the organization provides support to grassroots activists in the form of education, analysis of current issues, and with a historical perspective of the gun rights movement. The Firearms Coalition is a project of Neal Knox Associates, Manassas, VA. Visit: www.FirearmsCoalition.org