April 2005

Downrange: 04/05

Gun News
Arizona legislators have come up with a plan to legalize loaded weapons in places that serve alcohol. Senate Bill 1363 breezed through the Senate Judiciary Committee on a 5-2 vote and appears headed toward a promising future in the full Senate and House.

Downside: Arizonans would have to avoid drinking an alcoholic beverage while carrying the loaded weapon. The measure would apply to restaurants, bars and nightclubs that served alcohol. The measure fell one vote short of passage last year.

The reasoning behind the measure? Law-abiding gun owners should be able to dine in restaurants without leaving their weapons at home or in the car, where they are useless for protection.

Establishments that don’t want guns inside could still prohibit them by posting a sign at the front entrance. Opponents of the bill, including major restaurant and hospitality associations, say a sign should be required if guns are welcome in a business, not the other way around.

Sen. John Huppenthal, who heads the Judiciary Committee and supports the bill, said guns make him uncomfortable and he has never owned one. But he pointed to a University of Chicago study that he said showed rape and murder rates went down in states that passed concealed-carry gun laws.

Restaurants and bars will be safer after the bill passes because criminals, who ignore laws barring guns, won’t take the chance with customers who might also be armed, he said.

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And after you finish Gun Tests… If you’re looking for entertaining arguments to back up the right of citizens to protect themselves, read "Outgunned! True Stories of Citizens Who Stood Up To Outlaws — And Won," by Robert A. Waters and John T. Waters, Jr.

The classic story from hundreds of Westerns has a gang of outlaws riding into town and terrorizing local citizens, until they meet their match when the heroic sheriff appears. In real life, it was different. Some of the most notorious Western outlaws were killed or captured by townspeople. And the trend continued throughout the Prohibition era.

"Outgunned!" describes a dozen such cases, including one about Jesse James, whose gang was decimated by armed citizens while attempting to rob a bank in Northfield, Minnesota.

And there’s George Birdwell, “Pretty Boy” Floyd’s chief lieutenant. He and his partners were gunned down by outraged townspeople as they attempted to hold up a bank in the all-black town of Boley, Oklahoma.

There’s the notorious Dalton gang that entered Coffeyville, Kansas, one cold fall morning in 1892 and attempted to rob two banks at the same time. Four of the outlaws were killed by armed citizens.

The paperback is 239 pages and is available from Amazon, among other vendors.


-Todd Woodard