Opinion

Loaded lessons from Tennessee | Firearms Lawyer

My wife and I just got back from a stay in Tennessee. Along the way, we attended a seminar for firearms lawyers from all over the United States.

It is amazing how quickly the laws are changing around the nation as courts strike down one statute after another in places like Chicago, North Carolina and New York City.

For example, a federal judge struck down a law in North Carolina that illegally empowered authorities to confiscate firearms during public emergencies. King County has a law just like it, but the politicians claim it would never be used.

King County’s law violates the Washington State Constitution and our state’s preemption statute that prohibits local governments like King County from enacting gun laws that are more restrictive than state law.

Here’s hoping the Second Amendment Foundation in Bellevue, a great organization that has taken the lead in many of the other cases around the nation, has King County dialed under their legal cross hairs.

I asked Angie Vogt, the former voice of conservative thought in Federal Way, to tell me what she is doing now that she lives in Tennessee. Angie sent me a picture of what she affectionately referred to as her version of “group therapy” — a paper target from her last shooting session with all the shots tightly grouped together.

She’s a good shot, apparently.

Angie shared a story on how, even in Tennessee, the media often spins the public perception on stories involving guns. Prior to the last Tennessee legislative session, gun owners with carry permits were not allowed to bring their firearms into any establishment that sells alcohol. In other words, you had to leave your gun in the car when going into a 7-11 for a Big Gulp.

Restrictions like that made it impractical to pack a gun, and many folks will choose to leave their gun at home. A pistol does not do much good stowed in the car, and the best way to keep it from getting into the wrong hands is to wear it on your person. I’m glad we don’t have laws like that in Washington.

When Republicans in Tennessee took over the Legislature after 2010, they tightened up the law by simply declaring that anybody carrying a firearm in public places cannot consume alcohol. What was the headline the next day? Legislature: Guns Should Be Permitted in Bars.

Angie is trying to decide what kind of gun to purchase and has her license to carry in Tennessee. She has taken a few gun safety courses. She  practices with a 9mm, .22- and .35-caliber pistols, semi-auto and rifle. She can’t decide whether to buy a pistol to carry or one for sport. Angie likes shooting the 9mm semi-auto and plans to try a .45-caliber pistol.

According to some people, St. Louis is one of the most violent cities in America.

Our motel clerk told us the violence on the streets of St. Louis is due to laws that make guns readily available in Missouri. He advised us that the laws in Missouri should restrict gun ownership.

Unfortunately, I never got an opportunity to ask the clerk whether Missouri’s supposedly permissive gun laws are responsible for all the abandoned buildings that we saw boarded up along many city blocks.

Even many large church buildings are permanently locked and the once magnificent windows are completely broken. Communities seem to have fallen apart, but there are also beautiful old neighborhoods — especially around the university district. We visited the most immense and beautiful cathedral I have ever seen.

In the Deep South, where the Bible-reading gun clingers reign, things seem prosperous and law abiding. Further to the north from St. Louis lies my hometown of Chicago, where guns have not been available legally for years. Chicago saw almost 50 slayings during one recent weekend.

Thus, I think it is appropriate that the NRA holds national conventions in places like Pittsburgh and St. Louis.

Next year, the convention will be in Houston, Texas. We can take back our cities by identifying the agenda of big government control for what it is — a recipe for tyranny that destroys families and communities.

I don’t know whether the decay of the neighborhoods in St. Louis causes the violence on the streets, or whether it is the availability of guns.

I will never be able to figure out why the motel clerk in St. Louis was horrified about honest people being able to have guns while so much violent crime was going on around him.

If I go to St. Louis again, I will take my gun with me.

 

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