September 24, 2016

Concealed carry restrictions hinder self-defence

Before I moved to St. Louis from Toledo, Ohio, my parents and I sat down and talked about the idea of getting a Concealed Carry (CCW) permit. I wanted to protect myself.

Living in a new city is scary; living in a city like St. Louis that has a reputation for violence makes it even more frightening. I grew up less than an hour away from Detroit, Flint and Saginaw, Michigan, three of the top 10 most violent cities in the United States in 2012, so when people told me to be careful of St. Louis, I scoffed. But that didn’t mean I was unprepared.

For Christmas that year I was given basic pistol lessons and shot my first gun. I learned all the ups and downs of having a CCW, but found the permit almost too restrictive. Almost.

There are many rules a permit holder must follow, many of which are understandable, but mostly they make carrying a gun in public pointless. You can barely carry anywhere but the streets.

To get a permit, a person must demonstrate the ability to safely load and unload a firearm, semi-automatic pistol and revolver, fire both firearms and shoot with both the dominant and nondominant hands. The shooter also must have some level of marksmanship in order to pass.

Once the tests are passed, the permit usually goes on the driver’s license. If not, the owner must carry it with them everywhere.

But even before taking the test, there are many rules a person has to understand before applying for their CCW.

Since Missouri is a Castle Law and Stand Your Ground state, it is perfectly legal to shoot an intruder in your house or someone who is trying to enter your car. You can’t just shoot them, though. A permit holder has to give the intruder every opportunity to leave once they’ve announced they have a gun and will use it. If the intruder leaves, they can’t shoot. If the intruder doesn’t leave, they can.


Having all of these restrictions makes it almost pointless to get a concealed carry permit.


As a permit holder, I cannot carry a gun while drinking, nor while under the influence of any drug.

I also cannot legally carry a gun into a place that has posted a sign prohibiting concealed carry. Most of the time the gun can legally sit in a car as long as it’s locked up and not taken out while on these no-carry locations.

However, I spend most of my time at Webster, a no carry zone, and work, where I can’t carry on the clock. About the only other place I frequent is the bar to have a few drinks after a long day. And again, I can’t carry if I’m drinking.

Furthermore, I cannot carry inside libraries, court houses, schools, hospitals or churches, on buses or riverboat casinos, in child-care centers, gated amusement parks, sports arenas or stadiums, certain areas in airports, government meeting places, prisons, jails, 25 feet from polling places or police stations.

At any point, if an officer asks for my permit, I have to show it.

Having all of these restrictions makes it almost pointless to get a concealed carry permit.

I understand the need for the restrictions, mostly, but about the only place I can carry is on the street or inside a grocery store, and I’m pretty sure the one I use has a no-carry sign. These restrictions make it hard for me to protect myself if the need arises.

The restriction that bothers me the most is no carrying at work. I understand lawmakers wanted to make sure someone couldn’t go on a psychotic rage and kill everyone in their workplace, but I am most at risk walking to, from and while at work. I work downtown, and I know that’s a choice I made, but I never felt safe when I worked in Wal-Mart outside of the city. For women especially, walking to the car at night can be dangerous. A gun does me no good if it’s in my glove box when I’m attacked outside.

I know I could use hand-to-hand self-defense, knives or pepper spray, but I’m small. While I have a powerful punch for someone my size, I highly doubt it would be very effective against a 300-pound man. Also, I don’t have years to train in martial arts to make sure I’m safe before walking on a street alone. Nor do I have years to train at throwing knives. Close combat is not in my favor because again, I am small.

And another thing: What in the world does pepper spray actually do besides make someone especially mad at me? If someone tries to attack me, I want to make sure they can never attack me again. That’s why I chose a gun.

Like I said earlier, I carry because of my safety. I used to live downtown and now I work there. I park my car about three blocks away from my job because it’s cheaper. Some nights I don’t get off until 2 a.m. I have done everything I can to make sure I am safe when I walk to my car after work.

I’ve made friends with bouncers and cops on the street, and I always tell someone when I’m leaving. If I feel particularly unsafe, I will ask a cop to escort me to my car.

So far nothing has happened, but I feel a lot safer knowing the weight of my purse. I know of a few other young women who work downtown who feel the same way.

Despite my precautions and awareness of my surroundings, anything could happen. I feel a lot safer knowing I will be walking away and my attacker won’t be following.

 

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