SILLY SIGNS, SILLIER LAWS: No Guns Allowed

no-guns-allowed1While Christmas shopping with my wife, I was carrying my Smith and Wesson J-frame .38 in my front jeans pocket. It disappeared nicely and was further covered by my barn-coat.

We walked to the front door of the mall, only to find the sign. You know the sign, the one with a gun in a circle with a slash. ‘No concealed weapons allowed.’ (As an aside, I always wonder, as a gun afficianado, if they just mean the one drawn in the picture. No Glocks? Fine, I have a revolver. No 1911 style pistols? No worries, I don’t own one.)

I dutifully took my weapon back to the car and stowed it safely away. But not without grumbling to my wife. We all know how ridiculous this is. The sign, meant to keep gang-bangers, thugs and various violent criminals from carrying weapons in public does nothing of the sort. Nevertheless, I abide by the law.

However, as I considered the lunacy of the law that allows businesses to impose such requirements on the lawful, I had some other thoughts about dangerous things that ought to be kept out of public venues.

Perhaps there should be a sign that says ‘no one with a history of violent mental illness allowed.’ It’s pretty clear that the gun isn’t the main problem if you happen to be crazy and dangerous. Although obviously a bit difficult to enforce, it sure would send a message, wouldn’t it? Admittedly, it would result in untold lawsuits about equal access and disability. But concealed carry is legal as well, and ‘don’t you care about the children?’ Or something like that. Although designing a symbol might be difficult. A circle around a nut, with a line through it?

Another one I’d suggest is this. Malls should post signs that say ‘no one allowed who uses ,ethamphetamine, synthetic marijuana, cocaine, crack or any other drug that causes aggressive behavior.’ I’ve met people on those drugs, face-to-face in the emergency department where I work. Trust me, they don’t need to be in the public either. Sign? A circle around a wide-eyed guy with rotten teeth, perhaps?

Of course, given that weapons are ‘equalizers,’ we must admit that the world is still full of inequality when it comes to physical combat. How about, ‘No body builders, weight-lifters, boxers, wrestlers or advanced martial artists allowed.’ I mean, they might be nice but they could still hurt someone couldn’t they? I mean, who wants a side-kick to the head when someone gets upset over a sale item?

We could go on. No one allowed who has been drinking alcohol within, oh, say, 12 hours. No one allowed who has recently been arrested or jailed (even non-violent offenders). After all, if you can’t trust the man with the gun who passed a background check, fingerprints and a class, you certainly can’t trust non-violent criminals, can you?

No one allowed who has been in a fight in the last five years. No one allowed who is upset over their relationships, angry at the boss; no one who is depressed or has recently started a new psychiatric drug that might lead to impulsive behavior.

The first point is that this would be impossible. There aren’t enough police officers or Segue-riding mall-cops in the country to kick that many people out. (And trust me, if you use my entire list, the mall will be pretty darn empty!) Second, we can all find another thing, or group to ban; and we can be reasonably assure that our bans will be completely ineffective at stopping violent crime.

Ultimately, it’s all a function of bad reasoning. You see, I’m the guy the mall should want to have shopping while armed. I care passionately about the safety of my loved ones, and of all those around me. If I ever have to draw that weapon and use it, I will do it with fear and trepidation and caution. I don’t ever want to need it.

I’m the guy who has handled firearms for as long as I can remember; who has taken classes, practiced and who has thought long and hard about the duties, responsibilities and consequences of carrying a weapon. I’m the guy who views it all with an eye to the historic code of chivalry, to modern law and to the law of God which rules my actions towards others; particularly where life and death are concerned. Finally, I’m the guy who knows how to treat the injured. If there is a shooter, you want me, a physician, to be a first responder. If I’m armed, I might survive (and hang around) to do just that.

We live in a land of silly signs and silly laws, where logic is a fast fading quality. What a pity we can’t just put a circle and a slash across the signs that say ‘no weapons allowed.’ The crime rate would drop even further.

About the author: Edwin Leap

Edwin Leap, MD is an emergency physician and columnist. He lives in rural, Upstate South Carolina with his wife and four home-schooled children, and their various dogs and cats. He is a 1990 graduate of the West Virginia University School of Medicine and completed his residency at Methodist Hospital of Indiana in 1993. He is board certified in emergency medicine. Dr. Leap and his children are hobby blacksmiths, who love collecting swords, spears, knives and axes. His favorite firearms are the Ruger over and under shotgun his wife gave him for his birthday, the Ruger Mini-14 and Smith and Wesson .357 he received for Father's Day and his big, ugly Mosin Nagant rifle (also a gift from his darling wife). He and his family are members of College Street Baptist Church in Walhalla, SC where he is a deacon.

View all articles by Edwin Leap
Share Your Comments
Trending Now on GJWHG