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By Chris Knox


(October 14, 2008) Most of us are familiar with the “salami” illustration – the analogy of gun owners losing our freedoms one tiny piece at a time like a salami being sliced extra thin.  With each oh-so-reasonable “first step” our rights are gradually diminished.  What enables that “salami” strategy is that the other side is smarter than we are – they are willing to take what they can get, and when that doesn’t “work” they use it as evidence that more is needed.  Meanwhile many in our movement look for a total repeal of existing gun laws and consider acceptance of anything less to be the rankest compromise of principle.

This finally came home for me personally just recently.  I long resisted the idea of getting Concealed Carry of Weapons (CCW) permit.  My Second Amendment fundamentalism just balked against the idea of being fingerprinted and investigated to prove that I’m an upstanding citizen.  My spirit railed against taking a class to learn which end of the gun the bullet comes out of, and most of all, against paying a fee to put my name on a list just to be given a state-issued slip of paper.

Open carry in my state of Arizona has long been the law of the land and I have routinely taken advantage of it.  Working a day job in a corporate environment I don’t carry everywhere I go, but some occasions that I have carried, I have pushed the envelope.  That weapon in my briefcase?  Well, officer, it’s not in my “immediate control,” as stated in Arizona Revised Statutes Title 13 Section 3102, not to mention if you know it’s there, it must not be concealed.  Fortunately I’ve never had the issue come down to a real test and for that I’m thankful.

But in recent years I’ve come to rethink my doctrinaire views.  The light dawned as I became exasperated listening to a fellow Second Amendment purist fulminate that Congress should immediately introduce legislation to repeal at least the 1968 Gun Control Act, the 1986 machine gun ban, and the 1934 National Firearms Act, and that furthermore any legislator who wouldn’t agree to immediately introduce such legislation was obviously and enemy of freedom who should be impeached.  I may be exaggerating, but not by much.

It has finally occurred to me that my fundamentalism is playing into the hands of the anti-gun movement.  I’ve been demanding that my team throw a Hail Mary pass on every play while the other side is pushing us back a yard at a time.  It’s time – past time – that we fundamentalists (carefully) join those who have stolen a page from the other side’s playbook.

I’ve decided to start stacking the salami up and my first step is to grit my teeth and get my CCW permit.  I no longer see obtaining the permit as just complying with an onerous law – which I still believe it is.  Instead, I view getting the permit like showing up at a gun rights rally.  It’s a way to stand and be counted.  Anonymously packing has its merits, but there’s not much to build a political movement there.

My fundamentalist view of the Second Amendment hasn’t changed – I still consider the CCW permit an infringement on my Second Amendment rights.  In an ideal world, I would tuck my .45 into a holster, not worrying if my jacket covered it or not, and go about my business.  I would go to work, to the bank, the post office, to school, or to the airport to catch a plane to New York City, all without worrying about some misguided busybody’s unreasonable fear of weapons and armed people.  Yes, I’m a Second Amendment utopian.  But that’s not the world I live in.  And wishing won’t make it so.

Exercising the right to carry, even within the confines of a permit system, expands our Second Amendment rights.  Note that I don’t consider a permit law “Right to Carry” legislation and I cringe when I hear friends call it that.  However the permit is a tacit admission by the State that such a right does exist.  It remains to us, the law-abiding gun owners, to work to further that right.

Gun prohibitionists would really like to ban all guns, but they’ll take some restrictions as a “good first step.”  I’ll appropriate their line.  I’d like to see the privilege of carrying expand to a full-fledged right.  But for now, lawfully carrying under the permit system is a good first step.  The key is in the follow-up.  As we establish that law-abiding citizens don’t become gunslingers when they put a holster under their jacket, it becomes easier to further loosen the restrictions – the infringements.  And, like our mentors the gun prohibitionists, we can call each ratcheting back of infringements on the right to keep and bear arms just another “good first step.”

Permission to reprint or post this article in its entirety is hereby granted provided this credit is included.  Text is available at http://www.FirearmsCoalition.org.  To receive The Firearms Coalition’s bi-monthly newsletter, The Hard Corps Report, write to PO Box 3313, Manassas, VA 20108.

©Copyright 2008 Neal Knox Associates

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