Changing Arguments

Clayton Cramer talks about some important development in how the Philadelphia political class is talking about the gun issue.  They admit at least one thing:

“This society has chosen to live with guns,” Dr. William Schwab was saying in July, as he stood before a roomful of reporters in a Penn Law classroom. “There are over 220 million guns in circulation in the United States of America. There is nothing that’s going to take those guns away.”

We have to live with guns.  You can’t un-invent technology.  No attempt to do that has ever succeeded.   Now the bad:

“There’s kind of two different models,” he said. The first is “the idea of a ‘take-away’ model, where the more guns seized, the less guns are carried. But I think what’s really working is a ‘keep-away’ model. That is, if you are deterred from carrying your gun into an area where police might take it away from you, you don’t want lose it, even for the week or two it takes to replace it, because somebody might hear that the cops took your gun, and they might come after you because you’re unarmed.”

The political class in Philadelphia needs to remember that they live in a state where 600,000 people are licensed to carry a firearm lawfully concealed on their person.   The City of Philadelphia issues 32,000 of these licenses.  There are more legal firearms on the streets of Philadelphia in the hands of law-abiding citizens then there are police officers patrolling the city streets.

“Stop and Frisk” is basically having police officers apply what’s called a “Terry Stop”, named after Terry v. Ohio.  Terry’s standard in “reasonable suspicion” that a crime is being committed, and that the person is armed.  This is much more lax standard than probable cause required for, say, a search of a vehicle, though Terry Stops can be used for a traffic incident as well.

It’s worthwhile for City leaders to realize there is a standard with Terry, and that they may not just randomly stop and search people.  I have no problem, in theory, though I do have some specific problems with Terry, with police being able to do a limited unintrusive search to check for weapons on a suspect that’s been seized because of probable cause about a crime committed.

What I fear is that the City will use this as a pretext for harassing people who are lawfully carrying firearms.

2 thoughts on “Changing Arguments”

  1. “they might come after you because you’re unarmed.”

    You admit I may need a gun for self defense, yet you look for ways to disarm me. You probably don’t expect me to react with hostility either.

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