Opinion: These laws tie law enforcement’s hands behind their backs

Lawmakers are also debating whether accepting gun rights precludes enacting common-sense gun safety legislation. I heard back and forth about this often in my home state of Texas, while serving as police chief in Houston and Austin. I have always felt that we can adopt common sense gun safety laws while respecting the gun rights of law-abiding Americans.

One thing law enforcement officers cannot do, however, is fight crime and violence with one hand tied behind their back, which is what the “carry without a permit” laws being introduced across the country tell us. they demand that we do.
With carry without a permit, anyone who wants to carry a firearm can essentially do so no questions asked. Most states require a permit to carry a concealed firearm in the United States, according to Everytown.org, an anti-gun violence group. But there are now about two dozen hauling states on the books, with more joining their ranks all the time.
Last year, six states enacted permit-free carry laws, according to the Pew Research Center. In my home state of Texas, Governor Greg Abbott signed a carry without a permit law in August of last year, despite vehement objections from law enforcement officials. Just last month, Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey signed a carry without a permit bill, while the Georgia legislature earlier this month passed a similar bill, which Gov. Brian Kemp has promised to sign. Nebraska also appears to be on the verge of instituting a permit-free carry law.
Studies have shown that gun permits make it less likely that these potentially deadly weapons will end up in the hands of people who are likely to hurt or kill others. People who apply for a gun permit in states that require one may be required to take some type of firearms safety course that includes several hours at a shooting range to show they know how to use it. They can also be expected to demonstrate that they know how to safely disassemble and store a firearm. Requiring a gun permit also ensures that people who want to carry guns on their person are mentally stable enough to do so. However, transportation without permission could have the opposite effect.
Lawmakers loudly profess their unwavering support for the men and women in blue, but the moment law enforcement urges them to stand up to the gun lobby and refuse to carry without a permit, those same lawmakers are suddenly left behind. very, very quiet.

Carrying without a permit makes complex surveillance work even more dangerous than it already is. Simply put, it confuses police officers in dynamic, stressful, and deadly situations. Without permit laws, officers have no way to distinguish between a law-abiding gun owner and someone looking to wreak havoc on a community. They have to make split-second decisions every turn.

Hardly anyone thinks carrying without a permit is a good idea, except for the gun lobby. The gun lobby wants you to think the permit system hinders law-abiding gun owners, but a 2019 poll by PBS News Hour, NPR and Marist found that 72% of Americans support permits.

In the age of mass shootings and an epidemic of gun violence, carrying without a permit only makes the challenges officers face more difficult. If we can enforce strong laws to regulate the use of firearms for hunting, surely we can do the same to keep firearms in the hands of sane, law-abiding Americans. It would protect the lives of our children, women, families, extended communities, and the men and women in uniform who serve the American people.

Recent moves to relax gun laws also defy reason: Studies show that the weakening of the concealed-carry permit system resulted in increased gun violence and put officers and the public at risk. According to research by Everytown, states with weaker gun laws, especially those that don’t require concealed carry permits, have higher rates of gun violence.
Meanwhile, far from placing an undue burden on legal gun owners, the figures show that very few are adversely impacted by licensing. In Ohio last year, for example, 2,668 applications for concealed carry licenses were denied and 420 licenses were revoked due to felony convictions and other disqualifying factors. That’s just a fraction of the total 202,920 concealed carry licenses issued to responsible, law-abiding gun owners in the state.

Those numbers are comparatively small, but significant: Every day, the permit system stops dangerous people, like convicted domestic abusers and people with serious mental health conditions who pose a threat to themselves or others, from carrying guns in public. In most states that don’t require background checks for all gun sales, the permit system is possibly the only investigation a person will go through.

Police departments across the country have been urging state legislators to oppose carrying without a permit. Permits are one of law enforcement’s most valuable tools in the fight against gun violence. I say all of this not only as someone who has spent decades in law enforcement, but also as someone who spent most of his adult life as a registered Republican.

Every time politicians pass another carry without a permit bill and weaken our gun safety laws, they make our police officers’ jobs harder and more dangerous. Law enforcement is on the front lines of the nation’s gun violence crisis and is asked every day to risk their lives to protect our communities. In return, lawmakers owe them respect by listening to their views and passing gun safety laws to help police officers do their jobs and keep them and the American people safe.

Leave a Comment