Jacob Sullum

Although the crime-reducing benefits of such policies remain controversial, the blood-soaked visions of doomsayers who imagined routine arguments regularly culminating in gunfire have not transpired in the two decades since Florida started the trend toward liberalization. In fact, data from Florida, Texas and Arkansas indicate that permit-holders are far less likely to commit gun crimes (or other offenses) than the general population.

The experiences of these jurisdictions show there is no safety benefit from prohibiting public carrying of guns that could possibly outweigh the Second Amendment interests at stake. Palmer and his co-plaintiffs concede that a city or state may bar guns from "sensitive places such as schools and government buildings" or regulate the manner in which they are carried -- policies that the Supreme Court called "presumptively lawful" in its 2008 decision. But they argue that the Second Amendment cannot reasonably be read to allow "a total ban on the exercise of the right to bear all arms, by all people, at all times, for all purposes."

The Supreme Court said a handgun ban is especially problematic when it extends to "the home, where the need for defense of self, family and property is most acute." But in his dissent, Justice John Paul Stevens worried that the D.C. ban "may well be just the first of an unknown number of dominoes to be knocked off the table," in light of "the reality that the need to defend oneself may suddenly arise in a host of locations outside the home."

For people like Tom Palmer who are intimately familiar with that reality, the falling of those dominos will be something to celebrate.


Jacob Sullum

Jacob Sullum is a senior editor at Reason magazine and a contributing columnist on Townhall.com.
 
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