The Editorial Board of The New York Times is alarmed. And well they should be, since the idea of not being the gatekeepers with regard to rights is disturbing to those who desire control. In their view, Missouri has now become the “shoot-me state.”
The specific action is the override of Gov. Nixon’s veto that makes Missouri the most recent state to adopt constitutional carry, a law that protects the right of the state’s residents to carry firearms in public without getting a permission slip first. This vote by the Missouri legislature has elicited the comment from the Times that “it certainly provides further evidence that gun safety cannot be left to state lawmakers beholden to the gun lobby.” This isn’t a condemnation of the principle of local control, since the Editorial Board has been celebrating California’s increasingly draconian gun laws for a while now.
The article claims that “stand-your-ground laws result in disproportionate harm to communities of color,” though no supporting evidence is offered for this assertion. The reality isn’t so simple. While justifiable homicides have risen somewhat since the passage of SYG laws in many states, the word to explore in detail is “justifiable.” And as was discussed in an article by Patrik Jonsson of the Christian Science Monitor, policies that respect the right of self-defense bring benefit to targeted groups, not just to members of the majority. According to some black defense attorneys in Florida, for example, “if all cases are taken into account, black defendants have a higher success rate in claiming stand your ground than do white defendants, and they attempt to claim stand your ground at higher rates.”
In fairness, I have to acknowledge that the Times has accepted at least to some degree the concept of distributed power–when it comes to journalism. Whether the Gray Lady is accepting the inevitable or is an enthusiastic supporter of where things are going, but “all the news that’s fit to print” apparently now includes at least some of the reporting done by people who are called “citizen journalists.”
But while the Times is accepting progress in one area, the newspaper should at least recognize that the movement toward nationwide constitutional carry is following the same trend that we saw over the decades with regard to marriage equality. At first, the idea that same-sex couples should enjoy the same legal protections as heterosexual marriages receive was a radical notion, one that seemed to be something best left to philosophy classes and drum circles. And then state after state moved in the direction of respecting rights, culminating in the Supreme Court’s Obergefell decision.
The same progress is happening in constitutional carry and shall-issue licensing. We’ve gone from eight shall-issue states and one state that didn’t require licenses to carry legally–Vermont–in 1986 to no states banning carry altogether, and forty-two making legal carry a simple process. Ten or eleven now understand that the Second Amendment really does mean that bearing arms shall not be infringed–my state, Arkansas, is an ambiguous case, I’m sorry to say.
As a country, we’ve increasingly decided that with regard to private acts—marriage and marijuana being two examples—each one of us deserves to make our own decisions. The Times should get with the trend toward freedom as a whole, supporting personal self-defense in addition to other personal choices.
The views and opinions expressed in this post are those of the author’s and do not necessarily reflect the position of Guns.com.