I hate it when anti-gunners use law enforcement organizations to legitimize their gungrabbing ways. Anyone who can legally own a firearm can have a loaded firearm in a vehicle in Florida. We don't have blood in the streets and LEOs cringing in fear as the article below suggests would happen in Utah. They even threw some idiot hunter in there stating that no one has a reason to carry a loaded firearm.
A loaded debate
Tuesday, February 07, 2006
SALT LAKE CITY -- When law enforcement officers think about what might happen if Utah allows anyone 18 or older to carry a loaded weapon in a car, they cringe.
They imagine drive-by shootings, road rage ending with shots fired and police officers or children being put in harm's way.
But Sen. Mark Madsen, R-Lehi, doesn't anticipate such mayhem if his bill, which eliminates the need for a concealed weapons permit to carry a loaded weapon in a vehicle, passes the Legislature.
In Utah, law enforcement and the rights of individuals to bear arms are both generally held in high regard. Madsen's bill has the potential to affect every community in the state, along with countless tourists and commercial drivers who travel the state's roads.
Madsen believes Utah's laws regulating travel with a loaded weapon should be in line with surrounding states. When someone traveling from Idaho to Arizona has to pull over and unload his firearm at the Utah state line, it could leave the driver vulnerable to attack, he said.
"I don't believe Utah should be an island," he said.
Anyone who intends to commit a crime with a weapon in a vehicle isn't going to care about breaking one more law by having it loaded, Madsen said. But having a loaded gun available for self-defense would offer a measure of balance for people who are not violating the law, he said.
"I don't think there's any reason the law should operate in a way that puts law-abiding citizens at a disadvantage," he said.
Edward Rhoades, president of the Utah Chiefs of Police Association, says it's law enforcement officers and the public who would be at a disadvantage if Senate Bill 24 passes.
"Are they going to be able to use (the gun) to defend themselves or is the perpetrator going to take it away and use it against them? Are they going to be efficient and use it to not harm anyone else or is that shot going to go awry and hit some kid?" Rhoades said.
Those are unfounded fears, Madsen said.
"People can conjure up perfectly horrible hypotheticals, but when you look at the data they don't manifest," he said.
Nationally, serious violent crimes have been declining steadily since 1993, according to the U.S. Department of Justice. Since then, 21 states have enacted laws or loosened restrictions on allowing the carrying of concealed weapons, bringing the total to 38.
There are 25 states with laws similar to the one Madsen is proposing, according to the National Rifle Association, which supports his bill.
"There are shift workers such as nurses and factory employees who often commute at odd hours of the night, and we believe they should be able to choose if they would like to keep a firearm in their car to protect themselves during their travels," said NRA spokeswoman Autumn Fogg.
But it's not just during odd hours that people would be allowed to have their weapons handy. It's the daily commute to work and mundane trips around town shuttling children from one place to another that worry Rhoades.
"Right now when we have road rage, we have a lot of flipping off a person or showing them their IQ, or we have verbal outrages or fist fights," Rhoades said. Why voluntarily add a loaded gun to the mix? he said.
Rhoades can rattle off a list of recent crimes involving shootings from cars, which he contends would become more common if Madsen's bill becomes law.
Elwood Powell, president of the Utah State Rifle and Pistol Association, lists the same types of crimes as Rhoades does as reasons in support of Madsen's bill.
"We certainly have a whole mess of carjackings in this state and to the extent people can use a pistol or revolver to prevent carjackings, I think it's to their benefit," Powell said. "And it's in line with statutes of several other states that permit it," Powell said.
Chief Deputy Rob Tersigni in the Washington County sheriff's office believes the bill would put his officers in danger.
"I think it would be a concern that any vehicle you come up to may have a loaded weapon," Tersigni said.
The worst-case scenarios often predicted when other states adopted similar loaded-weapons laws haven't occurred, contends Joe Waldrin, executive director of Citizens Committee for the Right to Keep and Bear Arms, a national pro-gun lobbying group in Bellevue, Wash.
"Traditionally people on the other side of the issue start to talk about the sky is going to fall, there's blood in the gutters, shootouts at fender benders. In every case these predictions that have been made have proven to be not true," Waldrin said.
Madsen's bill was originally scheduled to be heard the first week of session, but he pulled it to get feedback from law enforcement and firm up support in the Legislature. He said he wants to make another pitch to law enforcement officials and bring his bill before the Senate Judiciary, Law Enforcement and Criminal Justice Committee within the next two weeks. Expediency could be crucial because the Legislature ends March 1, and every year numerous bills die because there isn't time for them to be heard in both houses.
Although his bill passed an interim committee 10-2 earlier in the year, Madsen knows he still faces opposition. Some of it will come from lifelong gun owners such as Justin Richins.
He owns a hunting company in Summit County that takes people out to shoot deer, moose and other game animals.
He can't think of a single reason why it would be reasonable to carry a loaded gun in a vehicle.
"It's an opportunity for disaster. That's ridiculous. So many things can happen," said Richins. "Firearms are a tool. They're designed for a specific purpose. ... You don't load it unless you intend to kill."