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Anti-Gunner Tries out Carry

Heidi Yewman, a Brady Board member, decides to try carrying a gun for a month, deliberately wallowing in ignorance. Some of you may have already seen this article, because I’ve seen it circulating around some other blogs. I’ve been sitting on it trying to figure out what to say about it, since I think what Heidi Yewman is doing here is extraordinary enough to be worthy of more lengthy commentary. I commend her for taking something like this on. It’s pretty apparent that guns make her very uncomfortable, and I’ll commend anyone who’s attempting to push their comfort zone and maybe try to learn something, and develop some understanding. But suspect her point is more that licenses to carry are too easy to get, to which I say, “So what?”

If we treated carrying a gun like we treated driving a car, all you’d have to do is show up to a police range near you and demonstrate some basic competence in handling a gun. In most states I know of, all that’s required for a license is to pass a basic driving skill test. I never took Drivers’ Ed. My parents taught me to drive. Driving, which I would point out the state regards as a privilege rather than a right, is something most of us learned via informal instruction from other drivers rather than through formal training. Most state law is fine with that. Not the case for guns, which the state recognizes (in theory) as a right. Yet for all the anti-gun machinations that we ought to treat guns like cars, if we really did, I doubt they’d find the regulations stringent enough.

I did not grow up in a gun household. I was introduced to shooting by an uncle as a kid. As an adult, I informally learned how to handle a firearm safely from a friend, who had learned from his father. I bought a Ruger Mk.II and went to the range a lot. The four rules are and a little initial supervision to make sure you practice them are honestly all the instruction you need to start training safely on your own. The rest is just buying advice and legal issues. After getting comfortable with a .22, I got a Glock 19 and shot the hell out of that too. When I started carrying a firearm, I had no formal training (Pennsylvania doesn’t require any), but I could have easily passed a police qualifier, and I understood the basic law of self-defense.

The thing Heidi Yewman needs to understand is that my story is pretty typical, whereas hers is not. Most people have the sense to know when they need help, and are in over their heads. Without a friend available who was familiar with guns, I probably would not have taken the plunge on my own. Even she was smart enough to track down a police officer for help, rather than fumbling around trying to clear her pistol with dangerous ignorance. This is what anyone with half a lick of sense would do.

But I don’t particularly approve of how she’s going about all this. “Look, I am an untrained person who is dangerously ignorant of how to safely handle a firearm,” is basically her argument. I would strongly advise her to take a training course, regardless of what the laws from her state demand. But if it’s a good idea, why not mandate it? That’s the next place she wants to bring the audience. That’s her point. The answer is going to be a very hard pill for those like her to swallow: the kind of person who isn’t bright enough, or self-aware, or responsible enough to know when they should seek help and advice is going to present a problem no matter much training you mandate. Heidi Yewman knows running around in public, openly carrying a gun she does not know how to operate (let along safely operate) is unwise and hazardous. Her instincts are that of a responsible person. Training will, at best, produce an irresponsible person with a training certificate. They will always be irresponsible and foolhardy, because it is their fundamental nature. It would be nice if we could prevent these people from voluntarily taking on any weighty responsibility, like carrying a gun, driving or reproducing, but in a free society we don’t prejudge people and deny them rights based on gut instincts and hunches.

Also, the high cost of training (300-600 dollars, in many cases) is going to ensure the poor can never exercise their rights. At most the state should only test for competence, and it ought to pick up the tab for citizens to qualify. Likewise, It would be less of a constitutional insult, for states which require training, to provide it gratis. Someone truly concerned about what Heidi Yewman is concerned about would push for that, rather than pushing to simply increase the cost of exercising a right. I wouldn’t hold my breath, however. The real complaint is that anyone can do this at all. Given that, I’m going to keep pushing to lower the costs of exercise of the right by removing as many barriers as I can get away with.

34 Responses to “Anti-Gunner Tries out Carry”

  1. Shootin Buddy says:

    In which state do you pay $50 for a carry license and get in a few minutes?

    Indiana is up to 8 months is some cases. The backlog is out of control here.

    • Sebastian says:

      It’s pretty quick in Washington. Back when PA reciprocity and Virginia reciprocity sucked, I was out west in Montana, so I drove 8 hours to Spokane, WA to apply for a license to carry because they were one of the few state recognized by VA that issues non-resident licenses. The permit practically beat me back home. My understanding is that some jurisdictions will issue licenses on the spot if your a resident. She’s from Vancouver, which I would imagine would issue pretty easily and quickly.

      • Jack says:

        Not to point out Sebastian, but unless you got your WA permit within the last year you experience might be out of date.

        I say because in Indiana we used to have a 6 week wait at the very most.

        Now it’s nearing that in months.

  2. Jack Morris says:

    All I got out of her article is that she thinks she, and all Americans, are victims because the Government doesn’t force them to do the right thing. What a sick mentality.

    If she doesn’t like carrying a gun, that’s fine. She really shouldn’t be if her aproach to handling a deadly machine is this flippant. I don’t need the feds to spoon feed me the actions I ought to be taking. But I guess that’s the difference between a Liberal and a true liberated person.

  3. Ish says:

    At several points throughout the piece, she equates “doing nothing illegal” with “doing nothing wrong.” Which, frankly, says so much about her mindset that Freud would have a field day analyzing this woman…

    One suspects that, if by some quirk of parliamentary procedure, a typo was introduced into the state code that said “cannibalism is legal” instead of “illegal” she’d see nothing wrong in snacking on her neighbors.

    Cross-reference things like Ladd Everitt saying he’d be cool with sending Americans to concentration camps as long as the Courts approved… or the whole “Life of Julia” thing.

    • Alpheus says:

      I have a little thought experiment, where I imagine what would happen if, overnight, murder became illegal. Would everyone go out and kill someone immediately? Probably not…because if you murder someone legally, then that person you murdered, who is a grandson, son, a brother, a friend, perhaps even a father and a husband, is going to have at least one social network (his family) and likely several networks (his friends, his workplace, his church, are three that come to mind) that may or may not be angry enough to hunt *you* down, and murder you legally. At the very least, they are going to demand financial recompense for the life lost, or they will kill you.

      That doesn’t necessarily mean that killing someone won’t start a feud (or worse), but it does mean that there are unpleasant consequences to harmful actions, which is a good incentive not to do them…and if this isn’t a good enough incentive, there’s a good chance that all the laws in the world wouldn’t have stopped you, either.

      So this notion that “without a law, there’s no incentive to do what’s right” is a little off, to say the least!

  4. Who else would like to read the article that Emily Miller would write if she tried the same thing as Ms. Yewman, provided Ms. Miller lived in a jurisdiction that allowed carry?

  5. Ian Argent says:

    Quite honestly, for a lot of people, going down to the local cop shop and passing the police qual (at no more than cost of ammo) and walking out with a carry permit would represent a major advance in freedom.

  6. motomed says:

    There can be only a few outcomes here, none of which help her cause. She either hurts herself or someone else, uses the thing in justified self defense, or she proves that even when someone is willfully ignorant, carrying a gun isn’t that big of a deal if you apply some common sense. My guess is she’s carrying unloaded at all times and that will be her fallback position. We’ll hear all about all the times she would have accidently shot her foot or a child or that person who cut her off in traffic…. if only her gun had been loaded.

    If she’s doing this honestly, at the end of 30 days she will have learned a lot, feel far more comfortable with what she’s doing, and will really have to dig deep to keep recreating that panicked feeling she’s counting on. Not that she’ll admit any of this.

    • TS says:

      Although highly highly unlikely to happen (especially over just one month), her experiencing a legitimate life saving DGU would be quite interesting to say the least.

  7. JD(not the one with the picture) says:

    Sebastian is right, she’s doing it to show that since an intentionally clueless frightened idiot like her can get a carry permit and buy a gun, no one should be able to. Molon labe, Oedipus.

    • motomed says:

      the missing element here is the harm. no harm, no foul. hard to convince people something is so terrible when you go out and do that thing and it doesn’t harm anyone one bit.

      • Ish says:

        Unfortunately, her target audience regards “this makes me feel bad” with actual, substantive harm. So it might surprise you just how easy it will be for Ms. magazine to convince people this is a harmful thing.

    • Erin Palette says:

      Sir, you cannot know how thrilled I am to see someone use my “Oedipus” line. Moreso that you used it in a serious blog discussion. :D

  8. Dave says:

    But here’s the thing: unless Ms. Yewman in fact shoots herself or someone else during this experiment, she will have in fact proven the opposite of what she intends. Despite what she clearly sees as inadequate restrictions, even a minimally qualified adult can survive gun ownership just fine.

  9. Ed says:

    my comment awaits approval since last night:

    Ed says:
    June 17, 2013 at 11:22 pm
    Your comment is awaiting moderation.

    First, I think this is an interesting experiment and hope to follow the events.

    Second, I am a neigh-rabid supporter of gun rights. That doesn’t really matter for why i feel the need to comment, but I figured I’d be open about it.

    Third, I’m lawyer. That is what compels me to throw in my two bits. While I could, and have, go into the whole natural rights vs granted rights and so on thing, that’s also not what strikes me here. Bear with me, prior experience has told me that first explaining what I’m NOT talking about will help.

    Fourth, I’m REALLY long winded. Sorry.

    What jumps out at me here is the difference between what is or should be *legal* versus what is *right*. These are two very, very different things. Not all things which are legal are morally correct, not all things which are morally correct are legal. I like to use the Westbourough Baptist Church as examples. Because I don’t like them, just to be clear on that one. As far as I’m concerned, they are *wrong* on so, so many levels. But legal. Actually, though I loathe how they use it, I fully defend their right to express themselves and believe as they believe, free from governmental interference.

    Governmental interference. The Hells Angels want to show up and rev motorcycles and drown them out, I’m all for it. Mocking them and generally pointing and laughing at them, I’m all for that. Government can, and must, stay right the heck out of it.

    The reverse also happens, and that’s easier. Anyone acquitted on something they actually did has been told what they did was legal, even if it wasn’t right. Pick your topic from abortion to tax laws to immigration to voter ID, just about everyone has a “that shouldn’t be legal” topic. We could also go historical to Jim Crow laws and slavery, once legal but I’d say pretty certainly not *right*.

    So, legal and correct are not the same, and I have to wonder if that’s being a bit blurred here. Some of the responses are headed in the direction of “you can do that, but you shouldn’t” a less formal “legal but not right”. And that’s on both sides, with the experiment (I’m assuming) intending to show that getting a gun under the minimum standards is legal, but not right. And the gun owners agree. The difference is gun control wants to change what is legal, by making what she’s doing illegal in some way, and gun rights people want the person to do what they should (with implied because it’s not the government’s job). I might go so far as to look for a sort of personal responsibility vs imposed rules fundamental conflict, but that’s just noted because it’s there.

    Now, the lawyer comes forth: the purpose of law is not to state what is or is not *right*. It just isn’t. It is to set the ground rules for what is restricted before you even do it. There are two forms of this: Malum in se and malum prohibitum. Malum in se (or malum per se, I’ve seen both and understand the latin base to be equivalent) comes down to laws regarding things that are bad because they are bad. Theft, murder, rape, assault, arson, and so on. Unquestionably counter to a functional society. Malum prohibitum are what I cal “bad because we say so”. Speed limits. There is no moral difference between a limit of 25 and 26 miles per hour. Really, the requirement is “drive safely” or “don’t be an idiot” but that’s hard to define to determined unsafe idiots. Don’t drive faster than the number on the sign by the side of the road, that’s easy to explain. Once you actually do something dangerous, especially if someone was injured, you’re actually causing a harm that’s per se (assault) which the prohibition sought to avoid by restricting a prior act.

    Back to gun control. Requirements to carry and get a license are all malum prohibitum. There is nothing essentially wrong or right with carrying of an lump of metal and plastic. If there were we would not have the cops carry them but not other people, or not in some places but can in others. It is not the object, but the circumstances (including the person). Part of the debate is where do we start or end the regulations which make crimes of things you do *before* you do something which is malum in se (like murder).

    Now we step back to essentials of the constitutional law and the levels of review which must be met to support the law. Every law, and I mean every law, must pass at least some kind of justification. Short version, government cannot make laws without a reason. How good that reason needs to be depends on the level of scrutiny it receives. Things like speed limits don’t need much. You want 30 instead of 25? Whatever, as long as you have some kind of rational reason for it. The more important the right, the more fundamental the impact of the law, the better your reasoning has to be. Restricting, because there’s only so many examples, a fundamental right (speech, religion) requires the highest standard: strict scrutiny. Without going into detail (which you can look up yourself if so inclined) strict scrutiny comes down to the law had better be closely tied to an important government interest and there’s no other way to do what needs done. [yes, that’s technically wrong in important ways, but close enough].

    The right to keep and bear arms is fundamental. Not only as a philosophical matter based on the moral right to defend one’s self and the moral duty to defend your children from those who intend you unlawful harm, but as a practical matter of the cops can’t be everywhere and the practical basis of the founding of our country in armed resistance to an otherwise lawful government. (I may get argued with, but I still say that until we kicked them out and said they were illegal, the British were the lawful government). Then we add in the limited nature of government in our system, that it is only supposed to do certain things, and specifically is to leave other things alone, which are spelled out.

    Debating the relative value of the factors here is…well, it’s the gun control “debate”. It’s a mess.

    Where the lawyer in me scratches his head is why there’s a problem with recognizing that some people are idiots or criminals and the system, inherently, only catches them after they do stupid or illegal things. Making new things illegal does not change idiots and criminals. idiots don’t know they’re doing anything wrong, so do it anyway, whatever the laws. Criminals know it’s wrong, and do it anyway, no matter the laws. Inherently, malum prohibitum can only influence the behavior of the conscientiously law abiding. As in, those people who make sure to know what is or isn’t legal and do what is legal. Who aren’t the people we need to keep guns from. Criminals and idiots only get affected when they cross over to malum per se, and both sides of the debate agree that if you open fire in a Starbucks on random customers, you no longer get to play outside with others. Both sides would agree that if you don’t follow the rules and are playing with your gun at Starbucks and shoot someone, you don’t get to play outside with others. (Side note, accidents are seriously rare with modern firearms, they do not “go off”, somebody was being negligent, which is illegal already).

    So, yes, it’s *legal* to go get a gun with no training and no experience and no preparation. It is not *right*. However, regulation will not change what is right or who will do what is right. People will do what is right because they chose to (or not), not because some regulation in some sub section of a footnote states such and such. Sort of like speed limits, which my experience says most people follow only to the extent they consider the cost of a ticket to be more than the benifit of going faster, which is not a moral decision in the least, not even a safety consideration, that’s just risk analysis.

    So, you can chose to go out there with a gun you don’t understand and have absolutely no idea how to be safe with (at least that’s what I’m reading here) and that’s legal. However, you still are responsible for the results. Deliberate ignorance is no more an excuse for you than for the people you say are doing something wrong when they…well, when they do exactly what’s being done here.

    I’m interested to see how the month goes. But I must say, if you don’t actually learn about guns you aren’t actually learning about the other side of the argument. I’m going to propose a follow up. Go the month like you intend now and document. Then, go get some of the training being offered, for free, here, by people who KNOW you don’t intend to support gun rights, talk with the people gun rights supporters want to have the kind of access you aren’t in favor of (like who need protection from abusive ex’s [I’ve done domestic protective cases, that’s part of why I feel as I do]) and do it again. I bet that second month is WAY different.

    • Texas TopCat says:

      Thank you Ed. Very good and well thought article. Probably more involved than most of us expected, but very good.

    • TS says:

      As a lawyer, would you say the prosecution would have a field day with her public admission that she is willfully and intentionally ignorant on firearm safety- should she experience a negligent discharge. That’s serving one up underhand.

      • Ed says:

        That’s a “yes and no”. Yes, they absolutely would hound that to no end. Negligence is a “reasonable person” standard, aka what a reasonable person would do under the same or similar circumstances. It also, frequently, is used as what a reasonable person “should” do. Depending on how they frame it, is the questionable act carrying a gun without training (which a reasonable person might do) or failing to get training when she knows perfectly well she should? Really, the negligent act is whatever is done right before the discharge, but they’ll track that back to would she have done that if she’d gotten training. However, no, strictly speaking her own training isn’t really part of the negligence question since it is all based on what a reasonable person would do, and if that “reasonable person” would have ended up in the same place then she wasn’t negligent. It’s more about the made up reasonable person’s training (so, how the judge or jury feels about would a reasonable person have training would matter).

        Amusingly, she’d be using the lack of legal requirement to say she was being reasonable as a defense in the negligence case while at the same time her “experiment” is designed show that not having training is not reasonable.

        However it turned out, such a case would be absolutely a nightmare for her as the argument and questioning would be all about her justifying everything she did. Cases like that are hard on people, and this would be worse than most. Karmic, though unlikely.

  10. Jack Morris says:

    Another thought, since she is new to carrying, maybe she will print or flash her pistol and catch a mouthfull from a soccermom or lib who calls the police on her. I truley hope she gets to see firsthand the persecution and harrasment her “cause” creates.

  11. TS says:

    Her instincts are screaming at her to get trained and she is denying them in order to prove a point about how it needs to be required by force of law.

    The case that her and all the other anti-gun people never mention is- what if you are already proficient? They’d rather make it seem like that case doesn’t exist.

  12. ScorpionHunter says:

    Despite the drama, nothing is going to happen to her and her gun. She won’t shoot anyone. She won’t injure anyone with it. She won’t kill anyone with it. Despite all her loathing toward the gun, her lack of training, her appearance of overall incompetence, nothing will happen. If there are about 240 million adults in the US, and if 30% of them have guns, and with about 100,000 people killed or injured with guns every year, that’s about .14% probability that Ms Yewman will injure or kill someone or herself with the gun. Being a middle aged white woman not (presumably) involved in crime, that probability is even smaller. And training won’t really change that number for her. I would guess she doesn’t know that, but she must intuitively believe it’s true or else she would not have a gun on her hip. So, she’s going to wring every potentially dramatic moment out of this to try to provide some red meat to the anti gun fanatics. OMG! I’ve got a gun! OMG! If she’s lucky, she’ll get picked up on the MAIG payroll.

    • mike says:

      “If there are about 240 million adults in the US, and if 30% of them have guns, and with about 100,000 people killed or injured with guns every year, that’s about .14% probability that Ms Yewman will injure or kill someone or herself with the gun.”

      Um, I think you meant .0014%.

  13. Cargosquid says:

    Reasoned Discourse is in effect. I’ve posted 5 times. Nothing.

    The above post by Ed….nothing.

    Moderators are preventing serious discussion.

    • ScorpionHunter says:

      The MS editors are not interested in serious discourse, and clearly want to control the perceived discussion. The article and comments were not for our (gun rights supporters) consumption. It’s rah-rah propaganda for the anti gun people who need something, anything to make themselves feel relevant.

  14. Akatsukami says:

    We can characterize this story as cheesy: as full of holes as a piece of Emmerthaler and stinking like Limburger.

  15. Robert says:

    They haven’t approved a comment in 3 days. Don’t bother trying.

  16. snoopycomputer says:

    A google search of her name gives back a hit at the number 8 position of Niki’s blog at The Liberty Zone.
    If we keep talking among ourselves, will a search of her name garner hits 1 2 and 3 to pro gun firearms blogs?

  17. Alpheus says:

    I couldn’t help but make the following comment to the story; I think it’s fair to say that it’s equally relevant here:

    I find it somewhat ironic that the author of this blogpost, allegedly having a knowledge of how dangerous guns are, didn’t take the gun to a friend, or an instructor, who knows how to take guns and gun safety seriously, and learn from them, but instead, fumbles around, trying to figure out what to do.

    Perhaps it’s even more ironic, however, that I find this story strangely familiar. Shortly after I became aware of gun rights issues, I read everything I could find on the topic; indeed, I have read many stories along the lines of “Ok, I bought a gun! Now what?” It isn’t uncommon that such people would fumble a bit before finding a friend or a good instructor to help them learn to carry, learn to shoot, and learn the conditions that qualify for self defense.

    Of course, one major difference between a lot of those stories, and that of the current author’s, is, in addition to the “OMG, I have a gun!!! Now what???” factor, there’s a more sinister element as well: “I [bought/was given] this gun to defend myself from [my ex/a random stalker/the people who broke into my house and might come back/the unidentified rapist in the neighborhood/etc] because [the police officer/my friend/my close relative] suggested I do it.”

    It’s also interesting how quickly, in these these stories, the sudden gun owner goes from complete ignorance to competence. If the author takes those steps that so many before her has taken, she should be fine!

    Besides being relevant for the discussion here, I also wanted to put the comment here, in case it was moderated out. (The article didn’t strike me as a place that does “Reasoned Discourse(TM)”, but I wanted to cover my bases, nonetheless.)

  18. Lara says:

    She says she will be carrying a GUN for a month, but doesn’t say anything about carrying ammo in it. Considering that she had to get a cop who had a driver pulled over (wow, brilliant move…) to make sure her newly bought gun was unloaded, I doubt it will ever be loaded.

  19. I tried posting a civil comment. Of course it got moderated down the memory hole. So I reposted and pointed out that if the second one gets moderated too, I’ll just donate $5 to NRA-ILA and teach a class to someone locally.

    Sure, it is their house and they can apply Reasoned Discourse… but the moderator can know that their action just sent five bucks to ILA.

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