577: Open Carry

How do you feel about open carry of firearms?


Full episode script

Weapons – like many objects invested with a long history, lots of controversy, and quite a bit of emotional energy – are both physical objects and symbolic objects. The idea of openly carrying firearms is one that is mixed up with both physical reality and symbolic meanings, in many different countries.

 

There are four basic categories of firearm laws across the world.

Shall-issue permitting means governments issue firearm permits – or allow open carry – for citizens who meet certain criteria. This is often also referred to as permissive gun legislation.

 

May-issue permitting means governments will issue firearm permits to citizens with special reasons or situations, or may choose to not issue at their discretion.

 

There’s also may-issue in law but no-issue in practice, where it can be legal to carry a weapon but it’s almost impossible to actually get a permit.

 

Finally, there’s no-issue, where permits are not or are practically or definitely not ever issued.

 

As Wikipedia lays out, quote:

The only countries with permissive gun legislation are: Albania, Austria, Chad, Republic of Congo, Honduras, Micronesia, Namibia, Nigeria, Pakistan, Philippines, Senegal, Tanzania, the United States, Yemen and Zambia, although several other countries like Canada and the Czech Republic, despite theoretically being restrictive, are shall-issue countries.

 

In many of these countries, the United States included, overall permissive gun laws doesn’t necessarily mean those permissions universally apply. And those laws and attitudes are changing. In the 1960s, the NRA argued very strongly for increasing gun regulation and restricting open carry — but this was also after the Black Panther party took up the banner of open carry gun rights as a way of protecting themselves from racially discriminatory policing.

 

In other words, gun and weapon legislation and attitudes are rarely shaped only by the weapons themselves, but also by the society they are in. Those laws and attitudes do also have real-world impacts. Quoting from an article in the Washington Post:

Researchers at the Boston University School of Public Health found that states with shall-issue laws had handgun homicide rates that were 10.6 percent higher than may-issue states. Additionally, shall-issue states had firearm homicide rates that were 8.6 percent higher and overall homicide rates that were 6.5 percent higher than may-issue states.

This script may vary from the actual episode transcript.