News stories about Second Amendment rights have been popping up a lot lately:
Former Portland Police Chief James Craig, who ran the department for a couple of years beginning in 2009, was the center of one of them.
Craig, who now heads up the cop shop in Detroit, his home town, is one top officer who understands that “public safety” starts with the word “public.”
“A lot of Detroiters are fed up” with crime, he recently told a Detroit TV station. “They’re tired, and they’ve been dealing with this epidemic of violence. They’re afraid, and they have a right to protect themselves” with firearms.
“If you are confronted with an immediate threat to your safety, you’re not going to have time to dial 911,” Craig said. “It becomes an issue of, âThe threat’s here, I have to respond to the threat’.”
Craig had earlier told the Detroit News that his experience in Portland, where he came after serving in Los Angeles, helped change his mind on gun rights: “Coming from California, where it takes an act of Congress to get a concealed weapon permit, I got to Maine, where they give out lots of CCWs (concealed carry weapon permits), and I had a stack of CCW permits I was denying,” Craig said.
“That was my orientation. I changed my orientation real quick. Maine is one of the safest places in America. Clearly, suspects knew that good Americans were armed.”
Here’s an update on what he said about California: Court decisions there and in Illinois have now recognized the right to carry a firearm for personal protection outside the home.
In California, where openly carrying a firearm is generally prohibited, a panel of the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled in Peruta v. San Diego that self-defense was a justifiable reason for wanting to carry a gun.
Unlike officials in some other parts of the state, the sheriff in San Diego routinely denied CCWs because he disagreed with that view.
But the court ruled he didn’t have that discretion. It said either open or concealed carry are permissible options, but governments can’t ban both, because that would violate the constitutionally protected right to carry firearms outside the home.
And in Illinois, after a Seventh Circuit ruling last year struck down municipal bans (including one in Chicago) on carrying guns in public, a ruling earlier this year at the district court level by Judge Edmond Chang voided the city’s ordinance banning gun sales and shooting ranges in the city.
The ruling said, “Certain fundamental rights are protected by the Constitution, put outside government’s reach, including the right to keep and bear arms for self-defense under the Second Amendment.”
Thus, Chang wrote, “Chicago’s ordinance goes too far in outright banning legal buyers and legal dealers from engaging in lawful acquisitions and lawful sales of firearms, and at the same time the evidence does not support that the complete ban sufficiently furthers the purposes that the ordinance tries to serve.”
Charles Cooke, writing for National Review Online, noted Chicago news reports saying “4,525 individuals signed up for carry permits on the first day of open registration, adding their names to the 11,000 firearms instructors who had already gone through early registration. Officials anticipate 1,000 applications per day — 350,000 to 400,000 this year alone. By way of contrast, only 7,043 Illinoisans enrolled in Obamacare plans during the first two months after the website’s launch.”
Finally, there’s the business angle: One of the first companies to flee a Second Amendment-hostile state was Magpul, a gun accessory firm, which announced last year it will pull 92 percent of its operations — totaling 200 jobs and $80 million in salaries and expenditures — out of Colorado, which enacted restrictions on the products Magpul manufactures.
In New York, American Tactical Imports, a firearms importer, announced in November it would be leaving the state and investing $2.7 million and creating 117 new jobs in South Carolina.
That announcement follows Kahr Arms’ decision to relocate its manufacturing plant to neighboring Pennsylvania, citing “uncertainty” about gun laws following passage of the “SAFE Act,” a state law limiting firearms rights.
And an American giant, the Remington Outdoor Co., which got its start in 1816 in New York, announced last month that it plans to open a 500,000-square-foot factory in Alabama that would employ 2,000 people.
While the firm intends to keep its original 1,300-employee plant in the upstate town of Ilion, New York had lobbied hard to keep the expansion.
But Americans, thank goodness, are free to vote with their feet — and their dollars — by fleeing jurisdictions that violate their rights.
So let me join Gov. Paul LePage in noting that Maine’s firearms-friendly laws and culture would welcome any manufacturer who believes freedom deserves support.
M.D. Harmon, a retired journalist and military officer, is a freelance writer and speaker. Email at [email protected]