This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2013, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.
San Francisco passed (and later rescinded) a law that allowed naked people to roam the streets at their pleasure. Their pleasure, however, would make many people very uncomfortable, probably disgusted, being exposed to likely unattractive bodies in public with no recourse other than to look away and cover their children's eyes. Legal, but offensive to the larger public, which is why the law was repealed.
It is no less uncomfortable for folks to share the same public space with fully clothed people who openly display a revolver on their hip. If they were qualified to own and carry a handgun they could obtain a concealed weapon license and meet their need for a defensive weapon, while also respecting the concerns of families who logically worry about the gun toter's credentials or intentions.
It is disconcerting to share a public place with one or more armed folks who don't wear a uniform.
A person carrying a rifle in public, particularly one with a high-capacity magazine, is particularly alarming because there is no defensive reason for this to occur and historically that too often has ended with horrific results. Perfectly legal, but no less offensive than an ugly, naked, person to a majority of folks who would like to leave home without an expectation of harm.
The discussion of gun control has centered on the availability of guns, the number of firearms that end up in the hands of unbalanced owners, or how many guns are necessary to neutralize the use of guns by crazies the "a gun in the hands of a bad guy will be stopped by a gun in the hands of a good guy" argument. If we must accept the extreme view that the 2nd Amendment authorizes the unfettered ownership of any and all firearms the discussion should focus on the terms of ownership.
Carrying a firearm outside of one's home or automobile should require some level of proven knowledge and expertise. Thus the concealed weapon license is the logical solution to allowing anyone to carry a weapon anywhere the law allows a firearm to be carried.
If you feel more comfortable protecting yourself beyond your home or car, you have every right under the Constitution to do so. The public need not know who is carrying a weapon and can therefore go about their business, comfortable in the knowledge that any carrier has met at least a minimum standard of training. In Utah, those standards should be upgraded to include proof of competence with the concealed firearm.
Use of a firearm should be subject to rules that permit the transport of any legal firearm to and from state, county, municipal, or private gun ranges subject to rules of transport such as being locked in the trunk. Hikers, bikers, ATVers, skiers, and bird watchers should reasonably expect to enjoy our great Utah outdoors without the threat of being the unintended victim of target practice. A well-designed, convenient gun range is a much better place to practice safe, long-range target shooting.
Reasonable politicians can reach a reasonable solution to satisfy the reasonable gun user while placating the casual shopper or hiker. Our problem is the reasonable politicians who are yoked to unreasonable gun advocates.
Mickey Oksner is a former military pilot, retired airline pilot and a gun owner, including an "assault rifle." He lives in Midway.