How My Viewpoint Changed On Concealed Weapons Law
By Gerald Galloway
Special to The Pilot
We are facing another challenge in our nation as we contemplate how to respond on the local, state and national levels to the actions of individuals using firearms to commit murders.
It is natural and expected that our legislative bodies at these levels would wonder how they might react to prevent such actions closer to home. Such responses should be guarded with reasonableness and full understanding of the consequences of any legislative actions.
I served as president of the North Carolina Association of Chiefs of Police in the 1990s when the North Carolina Legislature enacted the "concealed carry" (of firearms) law. We (the police chiefs) opposed the legislation because, at that time, we thought it was bad public policy.
We were very concerned about the safety of our officers and how this proposed legislation, if enacted, might affect their safety.
We were told that the legislation was going to be enacted, and we were invited to sit at the table to share our concerns as the legislation was being drafted. We did.
The law passed. I was contacted two years later by a member of the media and asked if our fears had become reality. I said, "Surprisingly, no." I believe our willingness to work with legislators and give our input resulted in acceptable public policy.
Despite the efforts of some legislators, there continue to be reservations and concerns that the "concealed carry" option is still bad public policy.
Having served as a sworn law-enforcement officer for more than 31 years, I wish I could say not to worry and that the police will always be there when you need them. Unfor-tunately, this is not reality.
We tried hard to deliver the highest level of service, and I believe law enforcement still does. I think we need to be cautious not to create a vigilante citizenry who take the law into their own hands.
However, the path to personal safety is a shared responsibility that includes law enforcement and each individual person. No law-abiding citizens should be restricted from protecting themselves and others - yes, even including the use of deadly force if necessary.
Whether it is action by town councils, state legislatures or Congress, when the need to respond arises, consider who you are helping and who you are hurting. No law restricting the freedom of innocent people to protect themselves will prevent psychopathic behavior or criminal activity. Law breakers don't care what the law is.
Any concerns should center on firearms education and appropriate legal knowledge of the use of this level of force. Concealed carry legislation provides for just that.
I have never been a member of the National Rifle Association, nor have I joined any other organization that promotes the use of firearms. However, my years of experience enforcing and overseeing the enforcement of the law have allowed me to develop what I believe to be a reasonable understanding of issues relating to public safety.
Restricting and/or limiting innocent people's rights to ensure their own safety in situations where that action might be merited is not in the best interest of peace and security.
Ben Franklin said, "They who can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety, deserve neither liberty nor safety."
If we are not careful, we will find ourselves without liberty or safety. I challenge legislators at all levels not to overreact.
Gerald Galloway retired in 2005 as police chief of Southern Pines.
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