The Journal Gazette
Wednesday, March 24, 2021 1:00 am


Open-carry costs

Mass shootings show folly of lax gun laws

A man opens fire in a public place and people die.

It's a repeated American tragedy ending with political hand-wringing, thoughts and prayers, and families destroyed. As the U.S. begins to emerge from a deadly pandemic when mass shootings slowed, it appears our unique cycle of violence has begun anew.

A Boulder, Colorado, grocery store is the site of the nation's most recent massacre. Investigators say 21-year-old Ahmad Al Aliwi Alissa used a rifle to kill 10 people, including a police officer, at a King Soopers store.

That was less than a week after eight people were shot to death at spas in the Atlanta area. Five other shootings since last March have left 22 people dead, the Washington Post's mass shootings database shows.

Colorado is a so-called “open carry” state, which means gun owners can carry their weapons as long as the firearms can be seen. Georgia allows owners to openly carry “long guns” such as rifles and includes in its gun law a clause that says loaded, carried long guns must be carried openly, according to the Giffords Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence.

Some Indiana lawmakers are looking to expand gun rights by allowing gun owners to carry a weapon without a permit. A bill now in the hands of the Senate Judiciary Committee – chaired by Fort Wayne Republican Sen. Liz Brown – is opposed by law enforcement officials including Allen County Sheriff David Gladieux, Fort Wayne Police Chief Steve Reed, Allen County Prosecutor Karen Richards and Indiana State Police Superintendent Doug Carter.

The legislation, which has not been scheduled for a hearing, is particularly worrisome amid the recent fatal shootings.

Gladieux told The Journal Gazette in an interview this month that permits provide a measure of safety for officers conducting traffic stops or drug raids. Dispatchers can tell officers, for example, whether a suspect has a permit.

That means officers can better prepare for a situation that might involve a gun. Without access to permit information, they just won't know.

“It's just sad to think there are some legislators in the state of Indiana who think this is a good idea,” Gladieux said.

Permits do not and will not eliminate mass shootings, but open carry laws can add confusion where none is needed or wanted.

“Here is the problem we have in America with these open carry laws,” retired ATF special agent in charge Jim Cavanaugh told MSNBC's Rachel Maddow. “If you're in a supermarket checkout line, and a man's walking across the parking lot carrying a rifle in a state that allows people to open carry rifles, is he an active shooter coming to shoot everybody at the supermarket? Or is he a man carrying a lawful rifle?

“That's why these laws are so bad.”

Lawmakers: Leave the permits in place.

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