Veteran says conceal-carry law has too many restrictions to be effective

Monday, November 10, 2003 | 12:00 a.m. CST; updated 11:00 a.m. CDT, Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Jack L. Garrett grew up in a different era of Columbia’s history. Women’s suffrage in Missouri was less than a decade old, the Great Depression’s devastating financial collapse hadn’t hit and Charles Lindberg’s pioneering solo trans-Atlantic flight was still months away when Garrett was born into a city he remembers as a much safer place to live than it is today.

“There used to be a time when I wasn’t afraid to walk or even drive through parts of Columbia,” Garrett said. “Columbia was a little town, very comfortable to live in. There were really no problems and we didn’t have to worry much about locking doors or robbery. Now there are places in the city I won’t even go anymore.”

Garrett, a 76-year old World War II veteran has lived in Columbia his whole life — with the exception of the two years he was an Army infantryman during the war — and he believes that crime in the city has gotten much worse. He said the state’s conceal-and-carry gun law has been long in coming, though he feels it still imposes too many restrictions on gun owners. He does not intend to apply for a permit.

“I think the state passed a good law. I’ve waited a long time for this law, but the city and county think they know better than the legislature. They’re putting so many restrictions on where you can take (a gun), I don’t want a permit because I don’t want to accidentally break the law,” Garret said.

Beyond matters of personal safety, Garrett believes the right to bear arms is a fundamental right of “every decent human being.” Anyone who has been properly trained and instructed has a right to carry a gun, he said.

Before his mobility was limited by virtual confinement to a wheelchair, Garrett also enjoyed hunting and target shooting. He grew up with guns in his household — his father was “quite the hunter,” he said. Garrett has been shooting since he was 8 or 9 years old.

While Garrett supports the conceal-and-carry law, he thinks some of its restrictions will hamper police from targeting criminals.

“They’re making so many restrictions, it’s going to be almost impossible for the poor police to handle everyone,” Garrett said. “They can’t search everyone everywhere. The bad guys can still carry guns, and if the good guys can’t, they might get hurt.”

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