Guns, cops, and killing

Libertarian Commentary, 08JAN2016, #16-01H  by Nathan Barton

What is going on in Texas? People seem to be confused and divided. And sometimes, companies cannot even get things straight in their own management’s minds. As reported by and featured in Freedom’s Phoenix. Wal-Mart Workers on Pistol Patrol as Law Lets Texans Tote Guns. Managers at Wal-Mart Stores Inc. in Texas have a new task to add to their list of duties: asking customers if they have a permit to carry a handgun.

This strikes me as odd, for several reasons. Why cannot Wal-Mart simply assume that a person is legally carrying unless there is some reason to assume otherwise? This is the equivalent of Wal-Mart managers being made to assume that every person driving into their parking lot is NOT licensed to drive an automobile unless they produce their driver’s license.

Furthermore, there are Wal-Marts in MANY states which have common-law open carry (indeed, 30 of the 50 states do not require a permit to carry openly, and even in states that do, many areas do not enforce the law prohibiting such), and their managers clearly do NOT spend any time on this. There are fourteen other states that require permits to openly carry, so do Wal-Mart managers have this duty in those states? I personally have carried openly in Wal-Marts in Colorado, Wyoming, and South Dakota and never ONCE had a manager ask me why or “do I have a permit?”

But for some reason, despite six months of preparation, Texas seems to be having a hard time dealing with open carry by people who have “concealed carry” permits, as reported by Fox. Much of this is due to the efforts of hoplophobes to create fear, but it is also the result of the cowardice of Texan legislators. Texas traditionally had no problem with open carry, in fact concealed carry was constitutionally prohibited because of the idea that it was an act of inurbanity (not gentlemanly, rude, deceptive). I do not know when Texas passed a law making open-carry illegal, but it was a bad day.

Mama’s Note: I’ve read in numerous places that the gun “laws” in Texas were pretty much directly related to the war of northern aggression and the aftermath. Many, if not most of the carry laws come from efforts to keep the blacks – former slaves – and “rebels” from carrying guns. If people in Texas will just keep their heads screwed on straight, they’ll get over this hysteria just as have the people of other states. None of the “blood running down the streets” or “shootouts over parking spaces” and “road rage” has materialized anywhere open carry (or CC) is common. The only places those disasters seem to occur are the supposed gun free zones.

I think that the new open-carry law is a bad law, BECAUSE it requires a permit to openly carry (which is itself unconstitutional), and because it creates a situation in which people are assumed to be illegally carrying unless they can prove otherwise, even if there is no reason to assume that they are violating the law. It creates a bad situation. And the reactions to it are even worse. Cops are in a panic about the law (just as Wal-Mart, Inc. is). Again, what Texan cops seem to want to do would be the equivalent of making an assumption that EVERY person driving on a highway is doing so illegally and must be able to be stopped for no reason at all than simply to prove that they have a driver’s license. That is nothing but a recipe for disaster.

Mama’s Note: Yes, the “license” is what has to go. But even that won’t fix the basic problem unless all of the foolish and useless restrictions are repealed as well. I was glad when Wyoming legislators decided that a “permit” was no longer “required” to carry concealed, but all of the idiotic restrictions on where one may CC are still in place. We can carry openly in all those places, and nobody asks or seems to even notice. Texas will get there too, eventually.

How? By creating situations in which needless confrontation can occur, and which can lead to violent conflict. Which brings me to the second part of my commentary.

In 2015, cops in the Fifty States killed a LOT of people. But exactly how many? The WaPo decided to try and count the dead on their own, and came up with a number of 984 dead in 2015. But the website Killed by Police lists 1200 dead for the near: more than 200 more. The Guardian, a British newspaper, lists and maps 1138: WELL over the WaPo count (and by the way, as of 1900 hours MT on 06 JAN 2016, lists 9 already killed in 2016).

All these sources report far more than official government agencies report; the FBI for years ignored a congressional mandate to track these deaths. In 2015, with the highly-publicized killings in places like Albuquerque and Ferguson, MO, the death count has become an important (and divisive) issue. Regardless of which number is right, it is too many, and almost certainly an undercount.

This is also closely related to two other important issues, which are apparently NOT tracked by anyone. First is how many people are abused and tortured by police? Everything from the traditional beatings with fists or nightsticks to far more severe abuse in being arrested, booked, and interrogated. Second is how many people are wounded, primarily by gunfire, by cops: people who are shot but did NOT die. But also, how many people are injured in traffic accidents CAUSED by cops. I suspect these numbers would stagger and shock us.

The entire business is very divisive politically. I agree with those who point out that not ALL killings by police are wrong and unjustified. But I hold that far too many ARE wrong, are NOT justified, and when combined with data about other forms of police abuse and injuries/wounds, show that our army of occupation in the Fifty States is an intolerable condition.

Clearly, we see even liberals and Tranzis split over police killings, and too many conservatives taking a completely unreasonable stand in support of cops, while some conservatives ARE refusing to accept that many of these killings are wrong. Even libertarians and constitutionalists seem to be divided over the issue. But one of the major concerns related to this seems to get little press and little thought: that is that police who kill (and wound or injure or torture) people are generally NOT held to the same standard and NOT subject to the same level of investigation and prosecution that non-police are subject to. I suspect that if this were the case, we would see far fewer killings by cops. But if that does not happen, expect to see 2016 as even worse than 2015.

About TPOL Nathan

Follower of Christ Jesus (a christian), Pahasapan (resident of the Black Hills), Westerner, Lover of Liberty, Free-Market Anarchist, Engineer, Army Officer, Husband, Father, Historian, Writer, Evangelist. Successor to Lady Susan (Mama Liberty) at TPOL.
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7 Responses to Guns, cops, and killing

  1. Pingback: Rational Review News Digest, 01/11/16 - Yemen: Doctors Without Borders hospital hit, killing four - Thomas L. Knapp -

  2. George says:

    Walmart’s decision to check for licenses is because they sell beer and wine. Texas law bans alcohol retailers from “knowingly” allowing the unlicensed carry of firearms in their store, so Walmers has interpreted that to require them to check if they see a gun. Most other retailers, I believe, have adopted a don’t ask, don’t tell attitude, or they ban open carry altogether. I predict in 6 months, everyone will wonder what all the fuss was about, and then September comes and campus carry comes into force, so the whole thing will start over.


    • MamaLiberty says:

      Welcome, George! We have discussed this today at The Truth About Guns:

      And yes, in a few months everyone will get their hair smoothed back down and, just maybe, some of the other goofy Texas “gun laws” will be revisited to bring them into the realm of reason. This alcohol thing is a big problem in many states – but not because ‘”unlicensed” armed people who shop where alcohol is sold just naturally begin to shoot each other. Of course, the logical thing would be for the state to take its nasty long nose out of all our business.


      • LarryArnold says:

        MamaL: [I’ve read in numerous places that the gun “laws” in Texas were pretty much directly related to the war of northern aggression and the aftermath.]
        True. From my history, “The first Texas law against concealed and open carry was ‘An Act to Regulate the Keeping and Bearing of Deadly Weapons, Law of April 12, 1871, ch. 34, §1, 1871 Tex. Gen. Laws 25′ passed as part of the Reconstruction. That law was not substantially modified until 1995.”
        [If people in Texas will just keep their heads screwed on straight, they’ll get over this hysteria just as have the people of other states.]
        Yup. We’re in the OMG phase. The community center where I hold some of my classes officially has an unenforced “no guns” policy. The staff member now tasked with putting up appropriate signs came to me, and I told her how. Under Texas law, to prohibit all firearms in a venue requires five (5) large signs. The two 30.06 signs (English and Spanish) prohibit only licensed concealed carry. The two 30.07 signs prohibit only licensed open carry. Then you need another sign under Penal Code 30.05 to prohibit unlicensed carrying of long guns. And the signs have to be posted on each of the eight public entrances.
        The director is going to recommend that the no-gun policy be rescinded, in part because those of us who teach there, and our students, would have to take our business elsewhere.
        [The only places those disasters seem to occur are the supposed gun free zones.]
        And Hollywood and the TV “news.”


      • MamaLiberty says:

        Got to love that incredible sign requirement. I suspect that would be a deal breaker for a lot of “on the fence” businesses. A situation like yours is a great opportunity to talk to them about it as well. The “senior center” here, the only building in town large enough, is where my gun club holds their annual show. They tried to prohibit guns, CC or otherwise, claiming to be private property. I still don’t know who actually owns the old school there, but the fact that the vast majority of their operating budget comes from the county and city government here put the kebash to that quickly. No signs are required here, and when present they do not have the weight of law beyond the trespass thing, but there are no restrictions on OC anywhere in Wyoming except “federal property.” Thus… we either ignore the signs or we just don’t go in there. So far, they’ve been happy to host our gun shows, and everyone carries at that if they want to.


    • LarryArnold says:

      Walking up to someone open carrying and asking for their LTC would not be my favorite part of the job. It would be interesting to know what the manager is actually supposed to do if the person is not licensed.


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