All too often, law-abiding gun owners across the country endure the bias within the mainstream media that is almost exclusively arrayed in opposition to the private ownership of firearms for self-defense.
Speaking for myself, I tire of the endless stream of philosophical pundits who decry the “proliferation of handguns” as detrimental to the safety and security of the public as if there exists, somewhere in the realm of reality, a viable means by which anyone, other than myself, can do a better job of looking out for my individual safety and security. In my opinion (born of first-hand experience), in the moment that my life is in danger, there will likely be no one in a better position to save my life than me.
But, there is another alternative that can be just as viable that is too often overlooked, which is another law-abiding citizen carrying a firearm. I was a police officer for more than twenty years. And, in all that time, I can honestly say that an occasion in which I was in the right place at the right time when a violent crime was being committed, with the capacity to intervene and save the day was about as common as seeing a Bigfoot.
It’s more of a myth than a reality. Having said all of that, though, armed citizens are just as important to the safety and security of a community as anything else. Sometimes, even within the subject of armed citizens, we can further examine the question of, to what extent do we limit a person’s right to carry a gun?
According to what has been often referred to as “common sense,” our society has deemed that painting with a broad brush is necessary when determining what “disqualifies” a person from carrying a firearm. One category of persons that seems to draw a certain consensus is convicted felons.
Common sense seems to dictate that a convicted felon should not possess a firearm for obvious reasons. We typically agree that a person who robs a convenience store or breaks into someone’s house has surrendered their right to own a firearm, forever.
And, legislation in most states to that affect has never had much dissent when being passed, especially when exposed to the litmus test of being “necessary to the safety and security of the community.” I wonder what Trooper Ed Anderson of the Arizona Department of Public safety has to say about that?
Who is Trooper Anderson? Well, let me tell you a story …
On January 12th, 2017, Trooper Anderson was responding to a “shots fired” call along Interstate 10 in Maricopa County, Arizona. While responding to this call, he came upon a traffic accident involving an overturned vehicle.
While Trooper Anderson was setting out flares to highlight the scene and prevent another accident, an armed suspect (later identified as Leonard Penuelas-Escobar, a 37-year-old ex-Mexican federal police officer and known drug user who was also an illegal immigrant) exited the crashed vehicle and shot Trooper Anderson.
A physical altercation ensued as Trooper Anderson, though wounded, fought the suspect for control of the weapon. At this time, a civilian entered the area and, upon witnessing the altercation, recognized that Trooper Anderson was in danger of being killed by the armed suspect. It was then that the civilian drew his own weapon and ended the altercation by shooting the armed suspect, thus killing him. The civilian who intervened and saved Trooper Anderson’s life was identified as Thomas Yoxall and he is rightfully being called a hero because of his actions in saving Trooper Anderson.
But here is what you are not being told, even by the same media organization that originally covered the story, extensively. What’s being ignored is that Yoxall is also a convicted felon. To be fair, Yoxall was lawfully carrying a firearm because he took advantage of an obscure legal process by which he could have his firearms rights restored under Arizona law.
I was significantly impressed by Yoxall’s characterization of the decision that he made in using his firearm when, during a press conference, he underscored his belief that it was his responsibility to do whatever was in his power to help Trooper Anderson and that is why he carries a firearm.
Now, I don’t want this story to be taken as a vehicle of support for convicted felons to have unqualified access to firearms, however, I would like to point out that, as a society, we have taken to many steps to be too generalized when it comes to gun rights allowing the opponents of the Second Amendment to take away too many liberties by being overbroad in determining who may own firearms and who may not.
What was “convicted felons” yesterday, can very well be extended to anyone who has even so much as received a traffic ticket to be denied their right to own a firearm. Furthermore, there are many “restricted persons” who are already being denied the ownership of firearms for various and sundry reasons that have nothing to do with being a direct and violent threat to anyone.
Of course, not being satisfied with that, politicians are becoming increasingly bold by trying to pass legislation to deny gun rights to service members who have returned home from overseas military duty and undergone treatment for PTSD, even if it was simply attending support groups designed to aid them in re-assimilating back into society.
Rather than creating a broad-based exclusion, such as saying all convicted felons cannot own a firearm, how about we treat the folks as individuals, which is what the justice system is supposed to do anyway, and get a bit more aggressive in sentencing convicted felons appropriately to begin with.
For instance, if you rob a convenience store using a firearm, then convict that person accordingly and do what best prevents future criminal behavior … keeping them in jail. Now there is a novel idea.
More to the point, if a criminal’s specific behavior merits the denial of their right to own a firearm, we simply sentence that person to a longer period where even though they serve a portion behind bars, the remainder of their sentence is served while on parole, which makes the denial of firearms more appropriate by being a condition of their original sentence as duly authorized by the court.
This method extends the amount of respect that an individual right, guaranteed by the U.S. Constitution, deserves. By extension, it limits the ability of the government to devise outlandish stipulations to owning firearms that are passed off as being necessary to the interests of public safety. I think we can all agree that, as things are, we risk having the interests of community safety and security deny all of us the right to keep and bear arms, eventually.
In the case of Yoxall, even though there was a legal process for him to have his right to carry a firearm re-instated, it is certainly not a process that is easy to negotiate.
Having been convicted of a theft many years ago, without a firearm, it seems that justice would have been better served to sentence him according to the totality of the circumstances and not subject him to an unnecessary denial of an essential right based on a meritless concern that he may one day seek to go on a shooting rampage.
To the contrary, he saved a life and used a firearm to do it. Perhaps, the argument can be made that this is merely an exception to the overall rule, and that the practice of trying to limit future criminal actions by enacting laws to prevent certain persons from owning firearms cannot exist in such a vacuum.
But if that is true, then we must face the natural conclusion to which this logic must be observed, that the elimination of all private ownership of firearms must certainly be considered as a viable solution. Of course, that is patently absurd, but, there are many who subscribe to this goal and we must not allow them to gain the upper-hand by preparing to acquiesce to any argument without first applying the standards that a free society must to preserve the notions of individual liberty.
In conclusion, I’d like to contrast this position to that of the opposition.
I am sure that any self-respecting social liberal would be aghast at my conclusions. I can hear it all now, “Can you believe this guy? He wants convicted criminals to carry guns!”
That is not what I’m saying and I’ve taken great pains to point this out. I am simply suggesting that we defer more to the rights of individual citizens as opposed to the interests of public safety, a condition that has obviously been exploited disproportionately by the left for years.
To complete the point, I leave you with this. According to the progressive left, the axiom of having ten murderers go free rather than convicting one innocent person has been heralded for generations from one bastion of liberal thinking to the other. Yet, see how this rhetorical gem seems to lose its luster when you apply the same philosophy to the right of self-protection.
In other words, it seems perfectly acceptable to the progressive left to allow ten innocent persons to die (by being unarmed at the hands of an armed assailant) rather than risk one person simply owning a firearm, especially if that person is not deemed qualified to do so for whatever reasons may be dictated by the state, regardless of whether those restrictions make sense, or not.
For as we already know, the left considers the law-abiding gun owner more of a serious threat than a criminal, anyway. However, in a free society, personal freedom must have some sway over detrimental group think. Like Benjamin Franklin famously stated, “Those who would give up essential Liberty, to purchase a little temporary Safety, deserve neither Liberty nor Safety.”
Do you agree with me? Let me know in the comments below.