Sunday, December 08, 2013

"that every person is free under the law to carry firearms or any other weapons..."

My friend, W.C. Morrow, writes me under date of July 24;

   In this morning's Call a correspondent, complains somewhat bitterly against the police commission for refusing, a worthy citizen permission to carry a weapon in protection of himself against footpads. My impression is that every person is free under the law to carry firearms or any other weapons, provided he does so openly, without concealment. Thus, I assume that a man may circle his middle with a belt stuffed with revolvers, knives, blackjacks and whatever else may be useful in footpad emergencies, without running counter to the statutes and ordinances.

   Why should he not do so if he deems such self-protection necessary? And why should any good citizen wish to carry his armament concealed? That would distinguish him from persons of sinister purposes, for they would naturally prefer to conceal their slaying implements. Enactments prohibiting the carrying of concealed weapons are manifestly aimed at bad men, not good. A good man who wishes to copy the methods of a bad man might profit by reflecting on the ambiguity of his position.

   A good citizen might reason that by carrying a revolver visible and handy at the front of his middle he is, like a Soldier, bearing arms for the good of his country, for every removal of a footpad by him would be an act for the public security to that extent, and that he has an advantage over the footpad in a duel, since a visibly carried revolver is more readily drawn and used than one hidden.

   Should any good citizen be ashamed of bearing a visible weapon? It seems not to have occurred to the soldiers of any country to be ashamed of bearing their weapons openly, and even by other means, including buttons and bands of brass, announcing that they have come into the open to fight for their country. I could hardly imagine anything more ridiculous than soldiers taking the position of good citizens asking for permission to carry their arms concealed.

   If I were a member of the police commission I would give no private citizen the right to carry concealed weapons, for I should deem that a dangerous and unfair privilege. I would not grant to any citizen what I would not grant openly and freely to all, and would impose no humiliating conditions. I could not assume that any citizen, whatever his standing, has an admirable motive in applying to me for permission to carry a concealed weapon, since it is his privilege to show that he is a good citizen by carrying a weapon openly.

   Let me respectfully suggest to the No Hat club that it might profitably extend its usefulness in fighting silly conventions by openly arming its members under the law. It is conceivable that a highly attractive belt for gentlemen might be made the fashion. And as the ladies are notoriously subject to brave to men--the bearing of death dealing implements being to them of the highest order of manhood--we can imagine the overwhelming  flattering attentions which openly armed citizens would enjoy.

[The San Francisco Sunday Call, August 1, 1909. Magazine Section, Part 1. Pg. 27]

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