The World According to Nick
My take on Software, Technology, Politics, and anything else I feel like talking about.
Friday, September 09, 2005

Criminals vs. Law Abiding Citizens 

Criminals break the law. Law abiding citizens don't. Pretty simple right? Yet somehow this is a concept that so many people don't seem to understand. This can be seen in two very different debates that are currently raging in our country (and in two states where I've lived). The first is in my former home of California, where the idea of giving drivers licenses to illegal immigrants has surfaced again (H/T to Daily Pundit):

California lawmakers voted Thursday to offer illegal immigrants special driver's licenses, a measure Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger is expected to veto.

Supporters said the licenses would make the roads safer because illegal immigrants, many of whom already are driving, would be required to pass driving tests to get them.

Frankly I don't see how this would work in any respect, even in making roads safer. Allow me to explain. An illegal immigrant is a criminal (by definition). They have broken immigration laws to be in this country. Many of them also are breaking state laws by driving a car without a license. So allow me to ask the following. If they're willing to drive without a license now, why would they bother going to get one if it becomes available? I say this because I think most won't for fear that it might draw extra scrutiny to them and expose their illegal status. And let's say some do try get a license, and then fail the test. If they're willing to drive a car without a license now, what makes you think that they won't continue to drive a car after they fail a test?

Now let's try to carry the same sort of logic to a debate going on in my current state of Wisconsin. The debate is over the right to carry a concealed weapon. There have been a lot of editorials going around about it similar to this one (H/T to Boots & Sabers who provides a good fisking that's worth a read):

We're talking about the plan underfoot to bring back the law that would give people the ability to carry a gun in public, providing they pass a background check, take a gun-safety course and pay a license fee.

We've opposed this proposal in the past and we join with law enforcement all over the state to oppose it again. That's right. Police chiefs, county sheriffs and many sworn officers are opposed to a concealed carry law.

Sheboygan Police Chief David Kirk said his big worry is "the introduction of more weapons into the community."

Green Bay Police Chief Craig Van Schyndle said, "This is an officer safety issue and a community safety issue."

They're worried about more guns in the community. Let's be perfectly clear about this. The only increase that would be created is an increase in law abiding citizens carrying guns. Criminals already carry guns... as do people who aren't criminals yet but want to be. This won't be any sort of enabler for them, because they're already perfectly willing to break the law now. This is about restricting the behavior of law abiding good people. Why would you want to do this? What fear do you have of a law abiding citizen? The only fear that would be created is a fear in the mind of criminals who now have to wonder if his prey is carrying a gun. That's the kind of fear I want.

So in the one instance we have a group trying to encourage criminals to do something only law abiding citizens would do, and in the other instance we have a group restricting the rights of law abiding citizens in order to prevent crime. Sounds pretty foolish when I put it that way doesn't it?


Personally I am all for gun rights, and I enjoy the safety that comes along with my concealed weapons permit in Florida when I leave my house.

But I'd like to point out that an increase in guns by law abiding citizens also usually results in an increase in guns for criminals. Criminals usually don't buy their guns legally, but they have to get them from somewhere; usually they are stolen... from law abiding citizens. So obviously the more guns that are owned by law abiding citizens, the more guns will wind up in the hands of criminals.

People with licenses to carry guns often leave them in their car. Sometimes they just forget they have it in there, and sometimes they are faced with a choice of leaving the gun in the car or driving home to put it away in a safer place, since usually there are certain places that you're not allowed to take them even if you have a permit, like courthouses, schools, or places that serve alcohol. Leaving a gun in your car makes it a lot easier to steal.

If they're going to legislate guns, I personally think they need to start by making gun owners bear more responsibility for their guns. If you leave your gun in your car and it gets stolen, you need to be hit with a big fine, and maybe even criminal negligence. Maybe also have stricter guidelines for storing guns in your house when you are not at home, and if your gun is stolen from home, and you didn't follow those guidelines, you get fined as well.

Just my 2 cents.


  Posted at September 17, 2005 2:14 AM by Anonymous geefunk  
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Name: Nick
Home: Wauwatosa, WI, United States

I'm a Software Consultant in the Milwaukee area. Among various geeky pursuits, I'm also an amateur triathlete, and enjoy rock climbing. I also like to think I'm a political pundit.

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