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Editor/Founder: Bill Smith, Ph.D. [aka: OzarkGuru & 2010 AFP National Blogger of the Year]
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One of the penalties for refusing to participate in politics is that you end up being governed by your inferiors. -- Plato (429-347 BC)

Sunday, January 03, 2016

A Madman's Invitation

by Dr. Jack Sternberg, Contributing Author: As many know, I am a retired Medical Oncologist. To maintain my medical license, I am required yearly to have many hours of CME (Continuing Medical Education) credits. Each week I receive one hour of CME by attending a very informative weekly cancer conference at what is now CHI St. Vincent's hospital. This last week I noticed for the first time the above sign on the entrance to the hospital.

For at least ten years, I have and maintain my Concealed Carry Weapons (CCW) Permit. For the last two years, I carry whenever I am outside my home. I feel it necessary because of increased crime here and nationwide along with the infrequent but yet real threat of mass public shootings by either deranged individuals or terrorists. I personally am also extra concerned because I am the Chairman of the Garland County Tea Party and write this weekly outspoken newsletter. I am also Jewish and Christian.

Here’s my dilemma. What to do about secretly carrying a concealed weapon into an area of a private business (not a government building) that posts “no firearms allowed” and is therefore a “gun free zone?” So I asked a local gun store owner what happens if you’re discovered since I didn’t know and many of you also might not know. He told me the consequences of carrying a firearm in a private establishment, If you aren’t a concealed weapons permit holder it’s a misdemeanor. If you have a CCW permit, it’s a felony (because supposedly you should know better).

I was also told something similar by a local bank president whose bank also has the above policy. I asked him why such a policy? His answer was that the bank would rather give an armed robber the money (since the bank and the money are insured) than risk people being shot trying to save the money. It was for me to wonder what about the right to save your own life if the robber just doesn’t walk out of the bank (i.e. – teller hits the alarm, the bank is surrounded by police and now there’s a hostage situation – that’s what always happens on TV)? My life’s not insured by the bank: only the money. Only my weapon gives me a chance of survival. Who has the right to deny me that chance?

So before writing this, I decided to fact check the Arkansas penalty for having a firearm in a "gun free zone". I found nothing on the Arkansas State Police CCW permit website nor could I find any applicable law on the Internet (using Google) for Arkansas. I then spoke with a number of CCW permit instructors who I thought would/should know and none of them had an answer. I contacted my son, a Pulaski County Deputy Sheriff, and he didn't know. I then asked Jason Stachey, Acting Hot Springs Chief of Police who met with Terri Harris, Garland County Prosecuting Attorney, who gave me the answer. This answer was then confirmed by the Arkansas State Trooper CCW Permits office and finally by Arkansas Attorney General, Leslie Rutledge, who I spoke with personally.

The answer is that there is no specific law or penalty for being caught carrying or having a firearm in a "gun free zone." The offense would be treated as trespassing. If the business owner asks you to leave and you do so, no crime has been committed. If you refuse to leave and law enforcement is called, you could be charged with Criminal Trespassing; a misdemeanor and that would still be decided by the local prosecuting attorney. So the original information I was given turned out to be totally wrong. I will bet that many of us have been worried over the years believing we were violating a written state law if we carried into a private business "gun free zone". I hope this really helps all of us who believe in the 2nd Amendment.

Now for the bigger issue:

Does anyone in their right mind really think that the above sign stops “bad guys” from entering their establishment with firearms intending to do evil? If it did, I doubt that we would have had the following:

Of the recent shootings that have captivated headlines, many have occurred in posted “gun-free zones”: the Inland Regional Center in San Bernardino, California; Planned Parenthood in Colorado Springs, Colorado; Columbine High School in Littleton Colorado; Virginia Tech University shooting in Blacksburg Virginia; Fort Hood, Texas and Chattanooga, Tennessee, like all U.S. military bases; Century 16 Cinema in Aurora, Colorado; and Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newton, Connecticut. On and on it goes. Since at least 1950, all but two public mass shootings in America have taken place where general citizens are banned from carrying guns. In Europe, there have been no exceptions. Every mass public shooting — and there have been plenty of mass shooting in Europe — has occurred in a gun-free zone.

The next logical question: Should private establishments fear those legally carrying firearms such as Concealed Weapons Permit holders? Are they a danger? Nationwide, only a tiny fraction of 1% have ever abused their rights and inappropriately used their weapons so that can’t be their rational for not allowing legal carry in their establishments. In addition, stories abound of armed citizen preventing crimes and killings because they were armed.

So, what good does “gun free zones” do? Why do some establishments have them? Why shouldn't law abiding, background checked, concealed carry weapons permit holder who want to protect their lives and the lives of others be allowed to exercise their 2nd Amendment rights?

So, I ask again of many establishments, What good does "gun free zones" accomplish? Please, someone tell me, WHY DO YOU HAVE THEM?
Jack Sternberg, MD, is a retired medical doctor and Chairman, Garland County TEA Party Patriots in Arkansas, and a contributor to the ARRA News Service.

Tags: Jack Sternberg, Madman's Invitation, Gun Free Zone, Concealed Carry, gun rights, 2nd Amendment To share or post to your site, click on "Post Link". Please mention / link to the ARRA News Service. and "Like" Facebook Page - Thanks!
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