BY RICHARD L. FRICKER
It’s often said, “The law says I can …” The law seldom says, “Thou shall …” The point being – just because one can does not mean it’s a good idea. So it is with “concealed carry” and “open carry” issues currently facing many state legislatures, Oklahoma in particular.
There is no doubt Oklahoma is a state where a vast portion of the evangelical electorate believe Jesus would have been armed when he gave the Sermon on the Mount if only the gun had been invented. They quite possibly believe had Jesus been armed he could have held off the soldiers at the Garden of Gethsemane, leaving evangelicals and the rest of Christianity in a rather perplexing theological situation.
That is to say, no Gethsemane, no crucifixion. No crucifixion, no Easter. No Easter, no Christianity.
One guy, generally thought to be St. Peter [or Rocky, as Gary Wills notes], with a sword. While carrying a sword in those days was allowed, Jesus did not think it was a good idea. As the story goes he tells Peter, “Put your sword back into its place” [Matthew 26:52]
In another version he says, “No more of this!” [Luke 22:51]
He didn’t say you can’t carry a sword. But he did say it was a bad idea.
This is where legislatures need to exercise some forethought and reason, which is asking a lot when an evangelical Christian Taliban rides roughshod over the legislative process. However, one need not look for biblical cautions to invoke reason.
Back in the days of the Wyatt Earp Old West, clearing the streets of guns was one of the primary jobs. Merchants, wives and piano players didn’t like the idea of people with guns walking the streets without badges or adult supervision.
Recent example of reason harkens to the fore, should anyone be willing to listen. This example, which cries out for examination, occurred March 7 in downtown Tulsa.
For reasons still unexplained, Andrew Dennehy stood on the plaza between the courthouse and the main public library firing a pistol into the air. Deputies from the courthouse responded quickly. Dennehy fell in a hail of bullets, and somehow survived.
Not all of the shots hit their mark. Ricardo Manuel, 28, was standing across the plaza in the doorway of the library. He was hit by a shot from one of the deputies.
This is not to fault the deputy. The officer was acting in the line duty. However, Manuel still had a bullet in his leg, grateful to be alive. Manuel could have been the only fatality in the entire incident. Having been accidently shot by a deputy is cold comfort to the man who just caught the bullet.
It is to say: even a trained law enforcement officer can miss the target. Once fired, the bullet has doesn’t care if it hits the intended target or not. It’s going to fly until it hits something or runs out of speed. And it does not care which happens first.
After the smoke clears from a gunfight there are a couple of overriding questions. First, was the shooter really in danger? Was the shooter trained on how to evaluate such situations? Did the shooter have any training in firing accuracy?
Lastly, who will pay the medical bills of a person accidently shot by someone with some type of carry permit? Almost every state requires liability insurance to drive an automobile or in some cases to even purchase a car tag.
What is wrong with requiring liability insurance with each permit? The amount of coverage can be determined by the state average to treat a gunshot wound.
The National Rifle Association provides insurance that will pay for legal aid against criminal charges. Insurance for civil suits is very rare.
CS Innovative Insurance Solutions of San Antonio, TX, is one of the few such agencies. Spokesman Mark Cisneros says most homeowners’ policies do not cover acts that occur outside of the home. His agency writes policies for up to $250,000 coverage should someone shoot a person not deserving of shooting.
Presently his agency only writes about three polices a year. Premiums top out at $375 for the maximum coverage.
Just what would be the maximum medical bill and physical rehabilitation from a gunshot wound accidental or otherwise? Again, local hospitals would have to be enlisted to come up with a magic number. But given rising medical costs, $250,000 sounds cheap.
How likely is an accidental shooting? A recent study from Notre Dame Associate Professor of Psychology James Brockmole provides some rather disturbing insight. According to his study published this month in the Journal of Experimental Psychology: Human Perception and Performance, he suggests that people who are carrying a gun are more likely to perceive that others around them are also armed.
In short, if a person has a gun they may well overreact in a situation because they perceive others are also armed, without any indication their perception is correct.
How often would this happen? No one knows for sure, but when a bystander is wounded or killed, is it fair to say, victim heal thyself?
The Second Amendment debate will in all probability continue. Gun owners for the most part are decent law-abiding people.
No one exits their home with the idea of firing across a school yard to stop someone running down the street because they look “suspicious.” But in a time when all life being sacred is a central political theme, wouldn’t it be nice to make sure all those sacred lives are protected should they fall innocent victim to a stray bullet?
It would be reasonable to expect the same standards on carry permits as those that now exist on cars. What is necessary is more than a Saturday course equal to sending in cereal box tops – proficiency exams equal to that of local law enforcement and as often, and insurance for that stray bullet.
Dirty Harry, John Wayne and Josey Wales were movie characters derived from writers using their First Amendment rights. If legislatures want to pass laws in the name of the Second Amendment then they have the duty to ensure that the electorate is protected from error and provided for when accidents stemming from the legislation they created occur to the innocent.
– Richard L. Fricker lives in Tulsa, OK and is a regular contributor to The Oklahoma Observer. His latest book, The Last Day of the War, is available at https://www.createspace.com/3804081.