In today’s Washington Post there’s an opinion piece by Emily Miller entitled I should be able to carry my concealed gun across all state lines. Miller, who is the senior political reporter for One America New Network (a conservative cable news channel), is the author of Emily Gets Her Gun; But Obama Wants to Take Yours. Her op-ed is in support of a proposed law call the Concealed Carry Reciprocity Act, which basically says a person who has been issued a permit to carry a concealed firearm in one state should be able to carry a concealed firearm all the states.
The concept of reciprocity among states is popular with gun owners because the current patchwork of state laws is convoluted and disorganized.
That’s true. The concept IS popular with gun owners. And state laws ARE convoluted and disorganized. But I’m not convinced that’s a good enough reason to pass this legislation. Miller is distressed by the fact that she can carry her concealed handgun in Virginia but can’t carry it in the adjoining state of Maryland. She complains that if she wants to go to dinner in Bethesda, she could be arrested for carrying her concealed weapon.
There are two rational responses to that. 1) Don’t go to dinner in Maryland. 2) Go to dinner in Maryland, but leave your firearm behind. A less rational response is 3) Force Maryland to obey the firearm laws of Virginia. No, wait, that’s not accurate. A less rational response is 3) Force every state in the Union to abide by the firearm laws of the state with the least restrictive gun laws. A lot of conservatives are passionate about states rights except when it comes to gun laws — less so when it comes to, say, public accommodation laws (fuck your gun laws, Maryland, but let’s protect the Colorado baker who suffers severe emotional distress at the thought of baking a wedding cake for a same-sex couple).
Why does Miller believe she needs a concealed firearm with her? Self protection, of course. Conservatives are always fretting that they’ll be unable to return fire in the event somebody decides to pull a gun in an Applebee’s in Bethesda. In a video she did with the National Rifle Association, Miller describes why she decided to get a firearm:
“I was dog-sitting for a friend at their house. And I took the dog for a walk, and in the time that I was gone, a man — the police believed to be a drug addict — got into the house and started robbing it. So when I came back into the house, he was in there robbing. He took my wallet, but I was able to talk him out of the house without hurting me, thank God.”
That’s pretty dramatic stuff. The story she told Lou Dobbs in an interview on FOXNews is even more dramatic.
“I walked in and found basically a thug, drug addict in my house stealing my wallet. It’s all he got away with. And thank God, you know, he did not hurt me. I unfortunately chased him down the street to get a picture, which I’ve learned from police is not a smart idea, I do not recommend — fifteen of his buddies standing around two pickup trucks. That’s when I called the police and I got away.”
And she described the event this way to Politico:
“I came home, and I was dog-sitting for a friend, and I walked in the house, and there was this thug, thief in the house, and like 15 of his buddies were outside on the driveway.”
This, however, is quite a bit different from her account which she originally published in an article in the Washington Times describing her struggle to get a concealed carry permit in Washington, DC. There she describes the critical event somewhat differently.
She’d been house and dog-sitting for friends who’d gone on vacation. She’d taken the dog for a short ten-minute walk, leaving the house unlocked. When she returned she saw a man leaving the house. He told her he was there to clean the pool.
“After the man left, I was still suspicious so I went inside, grabbed my Blackberry and clicked on the icon for the camera. I walked down the street, and as I turned the corner, I saw about 15 scruffy young men standing around two pickup trucks. We were at the end of a woody, dead-end road.”
Hours later, while at a party, Miller got a phone call.
“t was my credit card company asking if my card was in my possession because there were odd charges on it. I looked at my wallet and saw that all my cash was gone and the cards. It suddenly dawned on me that the “pool guy” had been inside the house.”
Not quite so dramatic, is it. But still a wee bit more dramatic than narrative described by the DC police who took Miller’s statement:
[Miller] stated that she left out to walk the dog at 1515hrs and when she returned at 1525hrs she observed [the suspect] exiting from behind the fence which leads to the side of the house. [Miller] asked [suspect] ‘What are you doing here’ and [suspect] stated ‘I am delivering firewood.’
[Miller] stated that she went into the house and felt that something was not right, so she exited the house to take a photo of [suspect’s] vehicle. [Suspect] approached [Miller] and gave her a business card that stated [a tree service] and [suspect] left the scene. [Miller] stated that [suspect] was operating a silver pick up truck with landscaping on the side of it.
[Miller] stated that she was contacted by her credit card company at 1945hrs about some fraudulent charges on her credit card. [Miller] stated that she checked her purse and noticed that her Visa credit card and $50.00 in US Currency was missing.
No face-to-face confrontation with a drug addict thug. No near escape from getting hurt. No talking him out of the house. No foot chase to get his photo. No theft of her wallet. No fifteen guys in two pickups in the driveway. Basically, somebody walked into the house she’d left unlocked and took a credit card and some cash from the purse she’d left on the kitchen counter.
Not to minimize what happened, of course. It’s not the ‘home invasion’ she claims, but it’s still a crime. Having been burgled a couple of times my ownself, I can attest that it’s an uncomfortable feeling to know somebody has been noodling about in your house. But hey, good solid police work enabled the DC police to identify the culprit. The fraudulent credit card charges at Wal-Mart and a tattoo parlor allowed them to 1) view security camera footage and 2) identify the suspect by the tattoo he paid for with Miller’s credit card (“a tattoo of a Skull with a blunt in it’s mouth and the word Stoned under it”).
Unfortunately, it appears Miller failed to follow through on her report to the police. They attempted to contact her three times about the case, leaving voice messages for her to call them. She didn’t. But she did get her gun and a concealed carry permit. So there’s that.
The thief? Presumably he’s still out there breaking into houses, frightening more people into wanting a concealed carry permit, drumming up business for the NRA.
As for Ms. Miller’s opinion piece, I’m inclined to think if you can’t be bothered to help the police prosecute the person who prompted your interest in obtaining a firearm, your opinion on where you should be allowed to carry your gun doesn’t carry much weight. I’d much prefer the Johnny Cash approach: don’t take your guns to town.