This letter is addressed to Katy Steinmetz. Katy, in the Kansas City Star an opinion you wrote from back in April was paraphrased as an argument against allowing concealed weapons on college campuses. I'm sure you've probably already received e-mails regarding the original opinion. But I want to give you my perspective; I have been a police officer for 13 years.
You wrote, "Legislating based on extremely rare, hypothetical events is misleading, not to mention incredibly speculative." This is an extremely naive way to deal with the serious issue of school shootings. They are not hypothetical; they happen and happen all too frequently. My personal belief is that law-abiding citizens should be allowed to carry a firearm concealed for their own protection. If a violent crime occurs in their presence then they have the ability to protect themselves and their families. If during the course of this violent crime they choose to act and prevent the murder of other civilians they can do so as well. All it takes is one person with a firearm to stop a murderous rampage.
Case in point would be the criminal shooter at the nursing home last month in South Carolina. Granted, it was a police officer who stopped the criminal, but he was alone with no help and he prevented more death. Will every shooting be stopped? Of course not, but if a shooter can be stopped, isn’t five dead better than 25 dead? What if your friends and family were in that group of 20 saved? Where I work in the Kansas City area, most police agencies have about a five-minute response time and in five minutes a lot of people can be killed before police arrive. So give the citizens the option to help themselves.
I think one thing that you and others who are against concealed carry do not understand is the mindset of those of us who carry a firearm at all times. I do not carry out of some desire to feel like a “flawless Wyatt Earp,” and I will brandish my gun only when the possibility exists I will have to use it in defense. I carry a gun because I will do anything I can to avoid becoming a victim, and if I can help save the lives of innocent people, I will insert myself into a situation and do my best to help others. If the day comes I have to act in defense, I don’t want any glory, to be called a hero or any other hyperbole, I just want the thug who caused me to act to be stopped. This mindset extends to everyone I know who carries a concealed firearm, not just off-duty police officers. Concealed-carry opponents seem to have a difficult time separating the “good guys” from the “bad guys” and simply assume that all those who carry a gun do so for nefarious reasons.
Your contention that self-defense can be attained through less-lethal means such as pepper spray is just not accurate. In some cases less lethal can be appropriate, but any less-lethal system has limitations. Pepper spray, batons and Tasers are quite simply close-quarters defense systems and are not intended for a lethal force situation. The effective range for the pepper spray I carry at work is about 15 feet, a police Taser is 21 feet (civilian models are 15 feet) and I must be face-to-face to use my baton. If a shooter is 25 feet away down a hallway, I am now out of luck with whatever less lethal I happen to be carrying. I have used pepper spray on combative people only to have it blow back in my face or for the subject to ignore it and become more agitated and thus continue fighting. Pepper spray is not a very effective defensive system, it’s better than nothing, but quite frankly, the only response for an individual armed with a lethal object (gun, knife) is a an equal or elevated lethal response.
But have no fear, even though some would vilify me for carrying a gun, I will never use my gun on anyone who is not a lethal threat. And I will be there to defend even those such as yourself who dislike me for carrying it. The life that is saved by a concealed-carry permit holder could be anyone.