Thursday, March 16, 2006

Concealed Carry

I haven't written anything about the concealed carry bill currently heading to the Governor's desk. That's because I'm honestly conflicted. I doubt anything truly awful will result from concealed carry. However, this isn't the wild west, and Dodge City can be glad that pistol packing desperadoes are no longer pushing up daisies on Boot Hill. I think there are people who genuinely have a fear for their own safety and need to travel armed, so I'd support concealed carry for people with restraining orders, victims of domestic abuse, targets of stalkers or other harassment. But to let any would-be cowboy pack heat puts a lot of people at risk for no particular safety benefit.

The law currently forbids concealed weapons in certain facilities. Why? Because the risk of a concealed weapon outweigh the alleged benefits, at least in those places. One can easily extend that argument to almost any context.

That doesn't mean that extension would be valid, and, like I say, I doubt that Kansans are going to start slapping leather ad libitum if the bill becomes law.

At Washington Days, someone said that how Sebelius handles concealed carry will show whether she wants to win in a landslide or win re-election in a fight. If she signs it, she takes the issue away from her opponents and will coast to November. If she vetoes, she guarantees a fight over it. Given that the bill passed by veto-proof majorities, she can sign the bill and simply say that she disagrees with the law but is responding to the will of the people. She can veto, show that she's standing on principle, and then talk about what really needs to be done to make Kansans safer.

And it isn't like Kansans are at any special risk. I've lived in New York and Chicago. I've walked dangerous streets at night, and I've ridden the subway at odd hours. I did a project on subway musicians in high school, and more than a few of the people I talked to had criminal records, one was recently out of jail on a murder rap. I never got mugged, and I never felt threatened. I don't think it was the Swiss Army knife in my pocket that scared threats away. I honestly don't understand the mindset of people who think Kansas is unsafe, and that what we need is vigilantes.