It’s America, So Yeah…We’ll Take That Risk

Let’s be perfectly clear about the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling Monday that the Second Amendment is now the end-all standard…

It doesn’t really affect Kansas.

If you think some people aren't this passionate about their guns, you should interview one of them.

No Kansas town or county has a ban on handguns.  No Kansas politician is even thinking the phrase “handgun ban.”  I suspect the first local official to propose a ban would wake up one day to find antlers glued to their forehead and one of my cousins in the front yard wearing an orange vest.

Kansans love their guns, and the Supreme Court’s ruling Monday only reaffirms the fact they likely won’t have to worry about losing their firearms for generations.

The ruling is still extremely interesting, though.

The simple truth is Americans don’t like being told what we can and can’t do.  It’s literally what this country was founded on.

NEED PROOF?

Let’s look at another intensely personal aspect of our lives:  driving.

This is the country where drivers railed against the national maximum speed limit (remember the speedometers with the 55 raised and highlighted?).  Despite evidence a slower speed limit was safer, Congress repealed the national limit in 1995 and the vast majority of states immediately jumped their max speed limit to 70.  A Univeristy of Illinois study attributed more than 12,500 deaths to the higher speed limits alone from 1995-2005.  Did anyone step up in 2005 and demand a return to 55?  Absolutely not!  We got to the store two minutes quicker with the faster speed limit.

Every year, motorcycle groups rally for their states to either repeal helmet laws or enact one that says riders don’t have to wear them.

Kansas’ primary seat belt law will come into effect later this week.  A primary seat belt law!  Putting on your seat belt is quite possibly the only thing you’ll do in your life that will be so incredibly easy to accomplish and so ridiculously worth it.*  The only reason state lawmakers passed the policy?  The carrot of federal stimulus dollars.  The fine for violating our shining, new safety law?  Five dollars.  Five.  Dollars.

*For transparency’s sake, my older brother is permanently disabled because of a head injury from a car accident 20 years ago.  Wearing a seat belt probably wouldn’t have prevented his head injury because of the way his car slid into a traffic sign, but the seat belt thing is something I’m clearly biased about.

A FEW THOUSAND SHADES OF GRAY

This is about as far from a black and white issue as Roe vs. Wade.

Do I like the idea of being banned from having a gun in my own home?  No.  It’s my home.  Back off.  I should be allowed to protect myself if I deem it necessary.

Am I completely against some form of gun control?  No.

Do I suspect more people will be hurt because of the Supreme Court’s ruling?  Yes.

How in the world do lawmakers and judges balance those kinds of beliefs when that’s just the opinion of one person?

James Alan Fox, a professor of Criminology at Northeastern University, wrote Monday that statistical evidence suggested Chicago’s handgun ban “resulted in as many as 1,000 fewer homicides since it was enacted in 1983, especially those occurring in the home and involving family members.”

Paul Butler is a former federal prosecutor and the associate dean and professor of law at George Washington University.  The following is just part of how he weighed in today:

“It’s not every day when four justices of the U.S. Supreme Court accuse the other five of having blood on their hands.  Some Americans are eventually going to die, because this case will lead to the overturning of strict gun control laws that are proven to save lives.  Justice Alito, who wrote the majority opinion, doesn’t necessarily disagree that there may be considerable public safety costs, but he says, blame the Constitution, not me.”

THE UPSHOT

As you can imagine, getting local reaction was my story assignment Monday.

I spoke with one Wichita convenience store owner who’d only* been robbed three times in 15 years.

*One of my coworkers asked why I said “only three times” in my story.  I then asked him if he could name me any other gas station in Wichita that had been robbed less than three times in 15 years.  He answered, “Touche.”

The owner’s reason for a lack of crime in his store?  Nearly all of his employees are armed.

“When people know that there’s three or four people in here working and every single person has a gun, you’re not going to get away with much,” the owner told me.  “I mean, why risk your life for a few bucks?  It’s not worth it.”

The three robberies also all occurred during moments when the staff consisted of unarmed employees like the owner’s mother.

I have to admit this is pretty strong evidence to support the right to bear arms.

However, the owner then asked me if I’d interviewed anyone else that day.  I hadn’t yet.  I’d tried to go to a pharmacy on the other side of town where the owner shot an armed robber who pulled a gun on his partner a few years ago.  The man declined an interview with a look that clearly said he was reliving the experience with each of my questions.

The convenience store owner knew exactly which pharmacy I was talking about.  That’s a scenario he’s prepared for hoping he’d never have to test himself.  However, the store owner who’d just told me he thinks every legally-qualified person should carry a gun showed some hesitancy.

“I still don’t know how I’d react to having to shoot someone,” he told me with a lot of uncertainty and a little worry in his eyes.

Exactly.

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