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ISSUE 116 VOL 19 PUBLISHED 5/9/2003

More guns, more trouble

By Annie Rzepecki
Opinion Editor


Friday, May 9, 2003

Last Monday, Minnesota committed itself to more innocent killings when Governor Pawlenty signed the House- and Senate-approved conceal and carry law, which allows any adult without a criminal record or a mental disability to tote a handgun in public places, excluding school properties. More specifically, the new law forbids local governments from banning handguns in places where the state government allows them. After this law takes effect in 30 days, you could be sitting in a park or researching at a public library, not knowing if the person next to you is packing heat. Comforting, isn’t it? This conceal and carry law is outrageous. Hasn’t anyone heard of the phrase, “violence begets violence?” How is the presence of more handguns going to help the already high rate of handgun-related deaths and injuries? Because of this new law, the number of people legally allowed to conceal and carry handguns could jump from around 12,000 to as many as 90,000 people, according to a legislative estimate. What was Pawlenty thinking? I have walked the streets of Minneapolis at night, and I have never wished that I had a gun in my purse for safety. A can of mace on my key-chain will suffice, thank you. The state legislature is very confident that a simple background check can determine whether or not the applicant will misuse his or her handgun privileges. Violent behavior can start at any time, folks – even after the all-powerful state background check.

Furthermore, how does the state plan to fund and process all of the new applications for handguns? Does Pawlenty plan on using the money he took from higher education programs, or is he going to hire back the police that were laid off earlier this year due to budget cuts? Perhaps he should have thought ahead. The conceal and carry law pairs nicely with another law that is likely to pass through the legislature, which would allow Minnesota bars and liquor stores to stay open an extra hour. Drunks with handguns make a lovely combination. Supporters of the new handgun law argue that it guarantees the exercise of Second Amendment rights. However, this country has changed immensely in the last 200 years. A girl at Macalester was raped at gunpoint last week. There were no school shootings or drive-bys in the late eighteenth century. Furthermore, existence of a certain right does not suffice as the sole justification for its exercise. Such advocates should think for themselves instead of becoming Charlton Heston groupies. Minnesota has it all backwards. The way to decrease handgun deaths is to get them off the streets; not hand out thousands more. Although I disagreed with some of Michael Moore’s tactics in his recent film “Bowling for Columbine,” I can’t help but think of the film’s opening scene, in which Moore addresses the dangers of handing out guns to anyone who wants one. When I ponder the prevalence of handguns in the near future and how easy it will be to acquire a conceal and carry license, I think of Moore’s question in “Bowling for Columbine:” “Well, here's my first question. Do you think it's kind of dangerous handing out guns at a bank?”

Opinions Editor Annie Rzepecki is a sophomore from Edina, Minn. She majors in English.





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