By: Warren Gray
Copyright © 2022
“Laws that forbid the carrying of arms…disarm only those who are neither
inclined nor determined to commit crimes…Such laws make things worse
for the assaulted, and better for the assailants; they serve rather to
encourage than to prevent homicides, for an unarmed man may be
attacked with greater confidence than an armed man.”
— Thomas Jefferson, 1774,
Staff journalist Brie Stimson just wrote for Fox News on November 26, 2022, that, “Twice the number of Americans were carrying handguns daily in 2019, compared to 2015…6,000 gun owners carried handguns every day in 2019, up from 3,000 in 2015, according to a study from the American Journal of Public Health, published on November 16th. The number of respondents to the online survey who said they had carried a gun…on their person…in the last month also nearly doubled from nine million to 16 million in 2015. The upward trend…comes as states loosen restrictions for carrying a handgun, and more gun owners cite protection as a top concern. A U.S. Supreme Court case last June (2022) also overturned strict, gun-carrying laws in New York (and Maryland, by extension, with nearly identical gun laws.)
“The study’s lead authors were…at the University of Washington…the Harvard Injury Control Research Center, and…Northeastern University… In 1994, the percentage of gun owners who said their main reason for having a firearm was protection was 46 percent. By 2015, it went up to 64 percent, and spiked to 73 percent by 2019. In 2021, it was 83 percent. Only one state (Vermont) allowed permitless, handgun carry in 1990, but by 2021, it had increased to 21 states (now 25 states, in late 2022)…The study also comes amid crime spikes in cities across the country.”
A veteran, police supervisor in the greater Washington, DC, area recently explained to me that the huge increase in criminal activity stems primarily from the current, anti-police sentiment of Democratic legislators throughout the nation. With loud, vocal cries to “defund the police,” numerous police officers were arrested and imprisoned for performing their assigned duties, resulting in a steep decrease in police morale due to the widespread vilification of their extremely vital profession. In fact, police retirements and departures are at an all-time high; even the best recruiting efforts cannot possibly meet the ongoing, manpower requirements.
Approximately 70 percent of calls in the supervisor’s region are for domestic disputes, with most people typically not wanting to see a police officer until they really need one. The budget and manpower cuts have crippled police response times, and when they can respond, there’s a whole new set of problems. Young, inexperienced, millennial police officers are reportedly sorely lacking in work ethic and pride of accomplishment, and they are strikingly hesitant and risk-averse in apprehending perpetrators. The criminals clearly see this and react aggressively.
Furthermore, this department recently had to switch from powerful, decisive, man stopping, Glock handguns, firing large-caliber, +P ammunition, to smaller, weaker, Glock weapons, firing smaller-caliber, lower-velocity, standard-pressure ammo because female officers and millennials could not handle the grip size or stout recoil. So, there’s also a societal/generational factor involved, as the younger police are more timid about enforcing the law, especially in dangerous situations.
In 2017, Dallas Police Chief Renee Hall told Law Officer magazine that, “We have nights, weekends, and holidays, and those are some of the things that are not necessarily attractive to millennials, who want all days off and to be the chief in six months. We recognize that is a challenge.” Then, on July 9, 2019, Police Chief Eric Kaiser of Jourdanton, Texas, told millennials in Law Enforcement Today to stop complaining about America: “The level of vitriol has risen to the point that…it’s now just a performance to see who can be the most radical and destructive. For reasons that are beyond me, all that hate is somehow actually celebrated by a segment of society.
“So, to those millennials who are still reading…This is your chance, to step up and show the rest of the world that yours is a generation of substance, that has something to contribute to the national debate besides stomping on an American flag and clamoring for more free stuff…It’s time to get on your feet. There is work to be done.”
Police officer William Gage of the Leesburg, Virginia, Police Department, formerly a U.S. Secret Service agent, recently wrote that, “They (millennials) might…show an extreme lack of respect for any authority, or worse, they might show extreme and inappropriate empathy for someone that has committed a horrific crime…Millennials have certain traits such as overconfidence, an overemphasis on tolerance and inclusion… entitlement…narcissism, overreliance on technology, and having very liberal attitudes towards social and cultural norms…especially on highly chaotic and dangerous calls.
“Millennials have cell phones and the Internet, and don’t have to actually think or act for themselves, due to information being widely available instantaneously… This…could blur feelings of right and wrong, because some millennials may feel that that they can take whatever they want…because it is ‘their right.’”
On the positive side, however, literally half of all states in the nation have now adopted Constitutional Carry (concealed carry without a permit), including Alabama (to become effective on January 1, 2023), Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, Georgia, Idaho, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Maine, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, New Hampshire, North Dakota (for ND residents only), Ohio, Oklahoma, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Vermont, West Virginia, and Wyoming. For the most part, their crime rates are lower than in other states, since criminals know that virtually anyone may be armed at any time.
Furthermore, thanks to a U.S. Supreme Court ruling in June 2022, some of the unconstitutional gun laws in New York state were overturned, and in Maryland by extension since Maryland’s laws were essentially the same as New York’s laws. Until July 5, 2022, Maryland was a highly restrictive, “may-issue” state, with only two-tenths of one percent of the population previously allowed to hold concealed-carry permits.
Thankfully, our Republican governor at the time, Larry Hogan, decreed on that date that, “Last month, the U.S. Supreme Court struck down a provision in New York pertaining to handgun permitting that is virtually indistinguishable from Maryland law…I am directing the Maryland State Police to immediately suspend (this provision.) It would be unconstitutional to continue enforcing this provision in state law.” As a direct result, I can finally, and legally, carry a concealed handgun in my own state.
This leaves only six remaining, discretionary, “may-issue” states in the country, including California, Connecticut, Delaware (a.k.a. “Biden-ville,” so no surprise there), Hawaii, Massachusetts, and New Jersey, all of which are ultra-liberal, Democrat-controlled states. Interestingly, half of these same six states (California at #9, Delaware at #12, and Massachusetts at #7) currently rank among the top 12 “Rudest States in America,” according to a recent survey. Actually, New York was #1 on the list, but they’re a “shall-issue” state now (Minnesota was the most-polite state on the list, in case you were wondering.)
Here in crime-ridden Maryland, for example, Baltimore, our largest city, has extremely serious problems to be certain. It’s one of 15 U.S. cities targeted by President Biden in June 2021 for “gun-violence reduction” to provide additional funding through the American Rescue Plan. But, at the same time, there are very vocal calls, even from the mayor himself, to “defund the police.” The Baltimore Police Department (BPD) has 392 police-officer vacancies (is it any wonder why?) and 14 detective vacancies. The police commissioner has begged for help in the form of 100 federal agents to assist the city police with their work.
Just a few short years ago, Kay Coles James, president of the highly-respected Heritage Foundation, wrote that, “About the crime, poverty, and despair in Baltimore…Liberal policies have failed the people of Baltimore and inner cities everywhere…For decades…(they) have delivered policies that actually increase crime, degrade educational standards, and make it harder to get work.
“Crime is allowed to fester. When police and prosecutors don’t pursue and punish smaller crimes, criminals remain on the streets and graduate to more serious crimes until things spiral out of control…Baltimore’s homicide rate outpaced all major cities in 2017. In 2018, it had the highest overall crime rate out of the 30 largest cities in America…The left has tried decades of its experiments with miserable results.”
Meanwhile, Baltimore City State’s Attorney Marilyn J. Mosby (Democrat) no longer prosecutes some low-level offenses. She and the mayor have both said that they want to “re-imagine” policing in Baltimore. Mosby and her husband, local politician Nick J. Mosby, are currently the subjects of an active, federal investigation for three years of unpaid, federal taxes and various violations of state law related to her political campaigns. Investigators have sought a wide range of business and campaign records.
Maryland Governor Larry Hogan (Republican) has duly noted that, “We can’t defund the police, which is the mayor’s plan. We have to invest more in our police, and…we have to have a prosecutor that’s willing to prosecute crimes.”
As of 2022, Baltimore has the second-highest, per-capita (59 murders per 100k residents), homicide rate in the entire nation, with the highest actual number of murders (348 last year), recently outpaced only by St. Louis, Missouri, with 64 murders per 100k residents. Baltimore’s 2021 Crime Index rating was “2,” meaning safer than just two percent of U.S. cities, or conversely, 98-percent unsafe. These are definitely NOT reassuring statistics.
Extremely telling is that the two safest states in the country this year, Maine and Vermont (as well as New Hampshire last year), both have permitless, “Constitutional Carry” in effect, meaning that ordinary citizens may carry concealed firearms without a permit, so crime is correspondingly reduced to minimal levels.
Will Maryland become safer for the general public now that it’s a shall-issue state and handgun permits are available for law-abiding citizens? While still too early to tell, most other states issuing handgun permits have reported significant drops in crime rates as criminals become painfully aware that many of their intended victims may be carrying concealed handguns.
Do I really want to be packing a concealed handgun most of the time? Absolutely not! Handguns, even small ones, are heavy, bulky, and cumbersome, and in a perfect world, there would be no crime and no criminals. But it’s definitely not a perfect world and there are certain high-crime areas where my family and I are much safer if I’m carrying a concealed weapon. Statistically speaking, when a felon approaches an intended victim, and the victim suddenly draws a handgun, the felon immediately withdraws approximately 92 percent of the time without any shots fired. This is a documented fact.
In the remaining eight percent of cases, shooting occurs, and regardless of the outcome, no matter how justifiable and how many witnesses confirm the facts of the incident, it’s usually the victim who goes on trial, incurs massive legal fees, and is often imprisoned, simply for defending himself and his family. This is why some companies now offer concealed-carry, liability insurance for as little as $300 per year.
Then, there’s the further complication of self-protection from dangerous wildlife, such as bears and mountain lions. Shooting these legally-protected species may also land you in jail, regardless of the circumstances. This is of special concern to me because wild, black bears now roam my semi-rural neighborhood in the pre-dawn morning hours, when I begin walking for exercise, and I certainly do not look forward to a close encounter with them, even when I am now legally armed for my own protection.
Please remember that a permit to carry a concealed handgun is NOT a James Bond, 007 “license to kill” anything that moves. It’s just a permit to carry a handgun, not to actually use it. Once you fire that weapon, all bets are off, and anything can happen, so you must be very, very certain that your life, or the life of a loved one, is in clear and immediate danger before you act. There are almost guaranteed to be unpleasant, legal consequences, even if you are 100 percent justified in firing your handgun.
Yes, there are now at least twice as many law-abiding citizens carrying concealed weapons as there were just a few years ago, but the world has become a more dangerous place because of liberal, Democrat agendas that are soft on crime and especially hard on the police. Police officers cannot possibly be everywhere at once to protect us, as the disastrous school-shooting incident in Uvalde, Texas on May 24, 2022 proved. Police were actually barred from responding appropriately, causing 19 innocent, elementary school students and two teachers to lose their lives, and 17 more people to be wounded.
In these deeply troubling times of rising crime, economic recession, spiraling prices, political divisiveness, defunded police departments, radical, left-wing agendas, and the added financial stress of the upcoming holiday season, the growing trend of more and more ordinary citizens arming themselves for self-defense is likely to continue, or even increase. Such is the uncertain nature of today’s world.
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Warren Gray is a retired, U.S. Air Force intelligence officer with experience in joint special operations and counterterrorism, and is an NRA member. He served in Europe and the Middle East, earned Air Force and Navy parachutist wings, four college degrees, and was a distinguished graduate of the Air Force Intelligence Operations Specialist Course, and the USAF Combat Targeting School. He is currently a published author, historian, and hunter. You may visit his website at: warrengray54.vistaprintdigital.com.