Jay G wrote this before I wrote my piece – I’ve been remiss in my reading. He focuses on the silliness of permit laws in preventing the Bad Folks from carrying directly, where I sort of glossed over it. He makes a good point, though; and one that trumpeting the lack of lawbreakers in the ranks of the people with concealed carry permits sort of misses. The harder the process to get a permit is, the less likely anyone is to get a permit. Sounds good, right? Well, except that (as I already noted here and here) the vast majority of people are perfectly safe to have and to hold firearms. Any generally applicable law to prevent, restrict, or infringe the right to keep and bear arms will fall disproportionally on people that society has no reason to expect need to have that right infringed upon. And the people that are anti-socially violent? A law isn’t going to stop them.
At best, a law stops the law-abiding from committing a crime by indicating that the legislature that passed it disapproves of the activity. More usually, it sets down how much that legislature disapproves of the activity (from “not very” in the case of traffic infractions to “quite a lot” in the case of Capital Murder), and remove a source of bias from a system that has humans running every facet of it. To be seen as “fair”, a law needs to “work”, in that most of society needs to agree that the activity is “bad” and that the mechanisms of law enforcement are brought to bear immediately and effectively on all violators. It’s that second part where laws against carriage of weapons (particularly concealed weapons) fails. It is simply impossible to enforce laws against concealed carry under the US Constitution. Not hard. Not expensive. Impossible.
This leads to the conclusion that such laws are bad laws. If we want to stop lawbreakers from carrying weapons, passing a law to do so is redundant. The lawbreakers will continue to carry, and the law-abiding will be disarmed victims.The only possible way such laws make a sliver of sense is if the vast majority of people are actually violently anti-social; and as I keep saying, that’s just not true. Gun Control != Criminal Control, at best they are orthogonal, at worst they are in opposition (a disarmed citizen cannot effectively control his interaction with any criminal, armed or unarmed; and the criminal may arm himself regardless of the law). It’s time to stop pretending they are parallel.