Alaska’s Constitution recognizes each individual’s right to keep and bear arms as well as our freedoms of speech and religion. There is no recognized community standard that restricts each resident’s ability to exercise his or her constitutional rights. If there were, we could find ourselves like the residents of Gilbert, Ariz., where the progressive town council banned home Bible study (Associated Press, March 16).
I am offended by those who pass judgment and declare it “unwise” or “unreasonable” to carry a firearm. They haven’t walked in anyone’s moccasins but their own and have no idea how many death threats I’ve received or whether someone’s neighbor is being stalked. Some of us former Boy Scouts and military veterans choose to be prepared and personally responsible for our own protection.
I did not attend the Fairbanks North Star Borough Assembly meeting where some residents carried firearms, but I doubt whether Dermot Cole (News-Miner column, March 12) or Paul Costello (News-Miner letters, March 7) are clairvoyant. Their declarations that these Alaskans were armed because of the wood stove ban is nothing more than assumption based on speculation.
The News-Miner reported that, “there was shouting at assembly members and the mayor: there were threats.” Significantly, none of this behavior was attributed to any armed resident. The News-Miner also reported that there were people who didn’t testify because of the “fiery rhetoric.”
I find it disingenuous that Cole and Costello seemingly support the blowhards who shouted threats (exercising their right of free speech) and allegedly felt intimidated by the soft-spoken people with firearms (exercising their Second Amendment rights.)
With our rights comes responsibility, and there are plenty of protective laws governing behavior. If these free-speech blowhards uttered threats of bodily harm, that’s just as much a crime under Alaska law as would be the intentional pointing of a firearm at someone.
In my 40-plus years of owning and carrying firearms, never has one jumped out of its cabinet or holster. People are more civil, polite and careful when a firearm is present. Just last week at the conclusion of a meeting with Gov. Parnell, he was asked if he felt extra safe because some of the attendees were carrying handguns. He quickly replied that he did and that he strongly supported the right to carry.
Firearms save lives every day. Thoroughly documented research by Professor Gary Klect reveals that in the United States each year there are approximately 2 million defensive uses of firearms by ordinary citizens. Klect believes the presence of a firearm stops many crimes from occurring. Researcher Lawrence Southwick’s study concluded that 800,000 violent crimes are thwarted each year by armed citizens. In fact, in every state that enacted right-to-carry laws, violent crime decreased more than 10 percent.
People who are uncomfortable with firearms probably should not own one, but don’t blame firearm owners for your phobias or try to restrict or impair their constitutional right to protect themselves and their families.
Lynn Levengood is a Fairbanks attorney and a former member of the U.S. Army’s international shooting team.