Today I’d like to talk about the downside to concealed carry.
Standing in line with my daughter waiting in to board a plane to drop her at camp, the two men behind us droned on about their conceal and carry class. They laughed while describing the “lack” of instruction and hyper-focus on liability in discharging their weapons in public. The men bantered back and forth about church and boasted that forty members of their church had permits and were coming to mass armed, though “not everyone will be at the church at the same time.” We listened to the violent speech for what seemed an eternity and then they said their priest asked them not to announce the battalion armed people in the congregation, “they are just coming back from covid, this might scare them away.”
Not twenty-four hours earlier our rural community had a shooting at the local fire department carnival. Seven shots were fired, one person killed, four injured and a stampede of people were videotaped fleeing from the area. In our small town, the carnival is a big deal. It is a summer tradition and the biggest fundraiser for our volunteer fire department. While the men continue to discuss their arsenal, I feel overwhelmed with a scene playing out in my mind’s eye. Perhaps those forty people were at the carnival. They all take out their guns. It could be a massacre. This is a serious downside to conceal and carry.
I worry. No, I am physically ill with anxiety about what is going on in our communities. The uptick in gun violence has me avoiding crowds. The talk of armed citizens at the ready with guns has me unhinged. Remember, any of us can obtain a permit if we pay the proper fees and take the appropriate classes. But that is not police or military training with coherent lines of command and training to de-escalate volatile situations. No, what we have is the Wild West. In fact, the men behind me were discussing insurance for conceal and carry. According to my fellow queue members, for just $100 you can purchase liability insurance for one year. Imagine that, you can get insurance to shoot someone for just $100!
Let’s just call this what it is, vigilantism. A vigilante is defined as: “a member of a self-appointed group of citizens who undertake law enforcement in their community without legal authority, typically because the legal agencies are thought to be inadequate” (source: Oxford Languages Dictionary). Eventually, I turned around to the vigilantes standing behind me and asked that they change the subject in front of my 11-year-old child. Our children are watching and listening, even when we don’t want them to hear or see. We have kids who have very serious anxiety and mental health concerns because of the pandemic. Talking about 40 people armed at a church is violent. You are putting pictures into my kid’s head that I cannot erase. Another downside to conceal and carry.
I am not naive. Guns are not going away in the United States. Gun rights groups have effectively organized and inflicted their 2nd Amendment rights on our communities. Couched within these rights are systemic racism and bias. Trust, they are all riding on the coattails of the Uvalde shooter when we all know it is the black kid down the street that is going to get shot. In fact, the men behind me referred to having a friend from Uvalde flying in to go shooting with them. It is distressing that vigilantes don’t take courses on mental health crises and de-escalation. Instead of investing in mental health resources, the Supreme Court would have us arm more citizens thus undermining law enforcement.
So in my opinion, this is the downside to conceal and carry. I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments.