Sunday, January 29, 2006

Accidental shot talk misses the mark

So, I'm catching up on my blog reading this morning and I caught up on the Virginia issues with Commonwealth Conservative. One of his posts linked to Commonwealth Watch. When I finished reading that particular story I decided to check out the rest of the Watch's site to see what I'd been missing. That's when I saw this post.

::::::::The shot by Del. Jack Reid reported everywhere in major media and covered thoroughly in the blogosphere has potentially created one casaulty. Reid is rumored to be the #1 targeted recruit for some conservatives to make a run at unseating Sen. Walter Stosch in 2007. Unfortunately, I have not heard what Reid's interest level is (was), but one can only imagine this latest episode did not do much to increase his chance of running.::::::::

Clearly I've not been keeping up with the goings-on in Richmond because I didn't have a clue what they were talking about. A quick search fixed that issue and brought me to this article in yesterday's Washington Post.

::::::::Virginia's General Assembly is a well-guarded place. Toss a snowball at a Confederate hero's statue on the capitol grounds and a vigilant Capitol Police officer is likely to reproach you, hand on holster. But the policing is apparently inadequate for John S. "Jack" Reid, a Republican member of the state House of Delegates who is in the habit of carrying a handgun as he carries out the people's work. On Thursday Mr. Reid accidentally fired his pistol in his office, miraculously hitting only a bulletproof vest hanging on the wall.::::::::

This paragraph is a wealth of information, and not just about Delegate Reid and his "shot heard 'round Richmond." But about the "shot" specifically, let's get up-to-date. Seems Delegate Reid carries a firearm. According to this editorial in the Post, it's a ".380-caliber automatic". Sounds like a new way to say "38 caliber" to me, but that's how the editorial is written. Delegate Reid managed to discharge the weapon in his office and, miracle of miracles, managed to hit a bulletproof vest that was hanging on his wall.

Personally, I think there's more to it than is being reported and I strongly suspect that a little inattention to trigger discipline is involved. That's a matter for the investigation into the incident to uncover and if Delegate Reid was simply being careless with his weapon he should be called to account for that. But this isn't the "classic case" the gun-ban advocates are claiming it is. These folks - and this editor is clearly one of them - would have you believe that the merest act of carrying a weapon is a significant danger to everyone in the area. Don't take my word for it:

::::::::Mr. Reid says his .380-caliber automatic affords him the protection he needs to carry out his legislative responsibilities; occasionally, he notes, he receives irate phone calls. By that standard, customer service reps, lost-baggage agents and, yes, not a few journalists would come to work packing heat. But they don't -- at least we hope they don't -- because it's unnecessary and dangerous. Accidents happen.::::::::

Emphasis mine. "Unnecessary and dangerous?" Unnecessary by whose definition. I personally think its unnecessary to have editors at major newspapers write opinions chock full of unsupported assertions like this one and be able to do so without signing their names. But that's my opinion, not a fact. That this editor, whoever he is, thinks it's unnecessary to carry a gun is his opinion and it's blissfully unencumbered with any facts to support it. He tries to give this impression weight by referring to the prodigious amount of armed protection available at the General Assembly - along with the added cheap shot about how racist we Virginians must be that we send armed guards to pull weapons on people who toss snowballs at our hallowed Confederate Heroes. The obvious question that this editor's mind is apparently incapable of forming is: what about when the Delegate isn't on the grounds of the General Assembly? When he's - for example - on his way there? Or home? Or headed to the grocery? Is the editor alleging that these Capitol Police officers are patrolling those areas, too?

Must be a whole lot of Confederate Hero statues around.

As for "dangerous," the simple act of carrying a firearm is no more dangerous than sitting in a car. You're in contact with a machine and, if you operate the machine properly, it's safe. He says that accidents happen. I say it's far from a proven that this was an accident. If the Delegate pulled his weapon out of his pocket and failed to maintain sufficient trigger discipline while doing it while also failing to keep the barrel of the weapon pointed somewhere safe, then that's not an accident. (Although I had the thought cross my mind as I was writing that that pointing the weapon at the bulletproof vest might, in fact, be the safest place to point it when you're on the 7th floor of a crowded office building.)

All of which misses the mark about carrying a firearm in the United States. As much as the gun-banning crowd might dislike it, the Founding Fathers knew full well that enshrining the right to keep and bear arms in the Constitution was important precisely because they had direct experience with people who banned the ownership of firearms "for the good of the people." The right to keep and bear arms is a right of every law-abiding citizen in the country. It's not a right if someone else thinks it's "necessary," it's not a right if someone else agrees it's not "dangerous," it's a right, period. Plain, simple, and finally. That Delegate Reid carries a firearm because he feels he needs the protection is a nice datapoint, but the fact is that he is allowed to carry a firearm because the Constitution specifically says he's got the right. People who don't like that can try to amend the Constitution, if they like, but the law today is that the Delegate can carry the gun.