Gun rights are important for self defense, defense of our loved ones, and defense of our country. They also help protect our other civil rights (and in another way than you are probably thinking).
The 4th amendment provides protection against unreasonable search and seizure. In simple terms, this means that the police cannot enter your home, search you, or arrest you without some reasonable suspicion or probably cause that a crime is occurring or has occurred. This is vital to preventing abuse of authority and to hold the crooked members of the police force accountable. The various levels of suspicion, and whether a warrant is needed in each case is beyond the scope of this article, but the important point is that the police need a reason to search or seize a person or their property.
Unfortunately, while many police officers are honest, and morally upstanding people, there are some that abuse their authority. These corrupt police officers will break the law and violate the civil rights of citizens (often minorities), with sometimes deadly results for the innocent citizen. In these cases, the dishonest police officer will often say that the citizen had a gun or an object that looked like a gun. Since many of the cities and states where this police abuse is most common ban or heavily restrict the right to keep and bear arms, the corrupt police can use the fact that gun possession is a crime in order to justify their wrongful violation of the citizen’s civil rights, even when the citizen didn’t have a gun at all. Were the right to keep and bear arms allowed by these cities and states, the corrupt police would be unable to use the presence of something that “looked like a gun” as an excuse for their actions. Perhaps this example will better illustrate the point:
In a location that denies the right to keep and bear arms:
A hypothetical African American male named John is walking down the street, on his way to work. A dishonest and racist police offer sees John, and decides to violate John’s civil rights. The police officer approaches John, and sees John is carrying an object the size of a small pistol in his pants pocket. In fact, John has no gun, and the objects in John’s pocket are his keys, wallet, iPod, and cell phone. The police officer order John to the ground and searches him, kicking and beating John, causing injury. John does not offer any physical resistance, but does record the officer’s badge number. After the officer leaves, John consults with an attorney and sues for violation of his civil rights. At trial, the corrupt police officer is able to defend himself by arguing that John looked like he had a gun, due to the bulge in his pockets, and by lying that John resisted the search.
In a location that fully allows the right to keep and bear arms:
A hypothetical African American male named John is walking down the street, on his way to work. A dishonest and racist police offer sees John, and decides to violate John’s civil rights. The police officer approaches John, and sees John is carrying an object the size of a small pistol in his pants pocket. In fact, John has no gun, and the objects in John’s pocket are his keys, wallet, iPod, and cell phone. Since concealed carry is lawful in this area, the officer cannot use the bulge in John’s pockets as an excuse for violating John’s civil rights, whether the bulge is from a gun or from John’s wallet. The officer recognizes that the risk of getting caught for violating John’s civil rights is too high, and so he decides not to.
In the above hypothetical situation, a racist and corrupt police officer is less able to violate the rights of an innocent citizen, since the police officer can’t use the excuse “but I though he had a gun in his pocket” because the city they were in allowed concealed carry. I am not arguing that that right to carry a concealed firearm would prevent all abuses by corrupt police officers, but rather that it takes away one of the corrupt and dishonest cops best excuses for their criminal actions. That, in and of itself, is a good reason to legalize concealed carry (and as a quick note, the criminals who we would fear having a concealed gun don’t follow the laws anyway, and already carry concealed guns, as the crime statistics show).
This is not just a hypothetical issue. The New YorK Times reported how police are using anti gun laws as a pretext to violate citizens’ 4th amendment rights.
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