a few more notes on concealed weapons

From: Jay Lemke (jaylemke@umich.edu)
Date: Fri Jun 11 2004 - 13:23:51 PDT

I've just spent a little time looking around at other facts and opinions on
the concealed weapons issue.

I must say that I was personally quite surprised to learn about the
Wisconsin situation. I am now even more surprised to discover that for the
last ten years there has been an organized and concerted campaign all
across the US to change laws dating from the late 1800s up to the 1920s
which regulated concealed weapons ... all toward making it possible for
people to carry them around almost anywhere, and with very little
restriction on who can do so.

It does seem to be the consensus of observers that it is being pushed by
the NRA, on its own behalf for membership expansion reasons, and political
credibility (it lost some major battles in the early 1990s and then started
this campaign), as well as more covertly on behalf of the small arms
industry. It seems that even in American gun sales are down ! And the new
market, as detected also in their advertising campaigns, is for concealable
weapons. Weapons meant to be taken out in public, concealed.

I may have overestimated the effect of the campaign on average citizens.
Polls and referenda show that the campaign gets defeated if put up to the
decision of ordinary citizens, but more often it is done through the
lobbying process in state legislatures, and now 34 of the 50 states require
issuing of concealed weapons permits to everyone who is not certifiably
insane or an ex-convict. Texas was one of the first. Michigan, my current
state of residence, approved such a law in 2000, taking effect 2001, though
there is a campaign to force a referendum (opposed by the NRA, which knows
it would lose a popular vote). Fortunately, the Michigan law does not
permit concealed weapons in university classrooms, or bars. However, in
states like Texas and Utah, which have had the law for a while now, it
seems that people are arrested everyday for serious crimes while carrying
concealed weapons -- and they have their little state permits allowing them
to carry! So I am not much comforted by the few exclusions in the law. Four
US states, including New Hampshire and Oregon, which I think of as
relatively intelligent places, do not exclude concealed weapons in schools.

I take some comfort that not everyone in my country has gone entirely nuts.
And perhaps I should moderate my critique of democracy (a little) away from
voters and toward a political system which is clearly quite anti-democratic
when legislatures pass laws against the will of the people because of the
fear of individual legislators that they will be targeted by well-funded
and morally reckless opposition (such as the NRA, which has a history of
this). This is not to say that media hysteria, racisms, and media fantasies
have not made it a lot easier for the NRA to push its agenda. But there is
also clearly a structural flaw in our legislative system, one which shows
up in many other ways (e.g. special interest legislation against the
general interest).

If you'd like to find out whether your neighbors, especially your
right-wing neighbors, may be carrying concealed weapons to work or in the
supermarket, here are some places to look:


and for other interesting background:



God Bless America.


Jay Lemke
University of Michigan
School of Education
610 East University
Ann Arbor, MI 48109

Tel. 734-763-9276
Email. JayLemke@UMich.edu
Website. www.umich.edu/~jaylemke

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