Sunday, March 6, 2011

Representative Evan Vickers and gun permits

Utah HB 129 would remove the requirement for responsible adults to obtain government permission to exercise a constitutionally-guaranteed right -- to possess and use arms. If passed, adults who are not restricted from possessing firearms would again be free to carry loaded concealed firearms in most public places.

Regarding HB 129, our local State Representative, Evan Vickers wrote to a fellow citizen:
I appreciate your opinion on this bill. I am having trouble with it. I have a concealed weapons permit and enjoy the use of a number of guns but this seems like it goes too far. I know that law enforcement has some real problems with it and I know of a number of legislators that are also concerned about the unintended consequences. There are some amendments forthcoming that may improve the bill.
This statement confirms my fear that Representative Vickers continues to need very careful watching when it comes to gun rights. While still a candidate for the legislature (Oct 9, 2008), he told me that although he owned guns and hunted, he favored gun registration:
Law Enforcement needs to be able to know where most of the guns are....I do not believe that it is appropriate to have a large number of unregistered guns floating around....
I still have a copy of that email. History shows that his is a very dangerous position for a politician to take. Clearly, a politician's pride in gun ownership is no measure of his respect for either the US or Utah Constitutions -- both of which clearly prohibit infringement of the right to arms. To these same constitutions, every public official at the local, state, and federal levels swear faithfulness.

As for "law enforcement [having] some real problems with it," they also have sworn faithfulness both the US and Utah Constitutions. The same goes for the other legislators "that are also concerned about the unintended consequences." Vermont, Alaska, and Arizona have had absolutely no "unintended consequences" from unlicensed responsible adults carrying loaded concealed firearms. While Arizona and Alaska are relatively new to this segment of liberty, Vermont's track record of safety spans decades. Wyoming just joined that club.

HB 129 is very clear in that it simply restores the right of responsible persons to carry a concealed firearm just as our forefathers did. A permit would still be required in some cases such as on public school property (also an unreasonable infringement of rights).

Both state and federal law will continue to wisely prohibit firearm possession by those who have demonstrated an unwillingness or inability to responsibly handle firearms (felons, addicts, the insane, etc.) Instead of looking for ways to put law-abiding gun owners in chains, these are the people Representative Vickers and law enforcement should be concerned about -- and these restricted persons already, and will continue to, carry guns without a permit regardless of any law any legislature can dream up!

I have one major concern about HB 129. This involves the "amendments forthcoming that may improve the bill." It was amended in Committee to include a requirement to notify any law enforcement officer with whom one comes in official contact that he is carrying a firearm. I unalterably oppose this poison-pill amendment. HB 129 must be rejected so long as it has this amendment for the following reasons:
• No person with criminal intent would volunteer such information -- by definition, criminals do not obey the law.
• The US Supreme Court has ruled that prohibited persons are not required to register firearms because gun registration laws violate their 5th Amendment rights. I suspect that the ruling would be relevant to requiring a restricted person to disclose firearm possession to law enforcement.
• If the behavior of a law-abiding adult is such that he is no threat to the cop, himself, or anyone else, it is none of the cop's (government's) business whether he's carrying a weapon of any kind. That said, I believe it might be prudent to make such a disclosure, but I oppose a mandate to do so.
We have more than sufficient laws to address behavior which violate natural law (mala in se crimes). There is no reason to create or retain any law that arbitrarily criminalizes behavior that harms no one (mala prohibita crimes) -- such as the carrying of a concealed firearm by a responsible adult. If laws stopped crime, we wouldn't have any.

HB 129 must be cleansed of its poison-pill amendments and then enacted immediately.

Gun-rights legislation (such as HB 129) constitute my favorite litmus test because it measures, better than most other issues, how faithful a politician is to our precious constitutions and how much he trusts the judgement of the people who elected him.

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