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How Laws Are Made--Now With Guns!

In the wild, wild world of Virginia, where men are men (but we'd better pass a constitutional amendment just to make sure) and good men are packing, it is apparently now necessary for state lawmakers to be armed while legislating.

We learned this yesterday when Delegate Jack Reid, a Republican from Henrico County in the Richmond area, accidentally discharged his handgun in his office at the General Assembly building. He shot into his bulletproof vest, which was hanging on his office wall. No one was killed.

Pardon me while I ask just a few questions: Why did Delegate Reid think it necessary to have a bulletproof vest at his office inside a building where state troopers run every visitor through a metal detector? Why did the delegate believe it essential to carry a gun onto the floor of the legislature? Why would voters elect such an odd person? Why do Virginians seriously consider the explanations offered by such a wingnut?

Reid told reporters that he regularly carries a weapon to sessions of the state legislature, a fact not previously reported to his colleagues. He said the bulletproof vest was a "joke," given to him in good humor by the Henrico police. That is indeed a kneeslapper. Excuse me for a moment while I grab hold of my sides.

More hilarity: Just two weeks ago, Reid wore that very same bulletproof vest on the floor of the House of Delegates. As another "joke."

Guns and vests are, after all, so funny. We saw that earlier this week in the laff riot up in Germantown, where an eight-year-old, apparently well trained by dear old Dad, blew a hole in a seven-year-old girl's arm.

Here's a pic of the type of gun Reid was packing.

The only people who are allowed to enter the General Assembly building without walking through the metal detector--and these machines are actually turned on, unlike the one at the District's John Wilson Building that I routinely pass through despite everyone seeing that it is plainly not operating--are the lawmakers and their official staff. So does Reid expect an assault from one of his Democratic colleagues?

As Waldo Jaquith notes on his blog, Reid is the author of a bill this session that would prohibit the use of bows and arrows in heavily populated places in Virginia. One might think that someone who sees the danger in that sort of situation would also realize that carrying a weapon onto the floor of the legislature is asking for a disaster.

Reid apologized to his fellow legislators, noting that they have a right to feel safe in their place of business. Interesting admission, actually, since the gun lobby likes to argue that we'd be far safer if everyone was packing.

Speaking of which, you'll be glad to know that Virginia's lawmakers are once again on guard against the insufficient arming of the commonwealth: A bill being considered this session would prohibit colleges and universities from restricting students' carrying of firearms on campus. I'll try to keep a watch on the Guns on Campus bill here and in the column. Together, we can purge Virginia of the scourge of gunless classrooms.

By Marc Fisher |  January 27, 2006; 5:36 AM ET
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It's even worse. According to the Post story on this, while all visitors to the VA capitol may have to go through a metal detector, they just have to take their gun out while they go through it and can still take the weapon in as long as they have a concealed weapon permit. Until last year, you didn't even need a concealed weapon permit to do it; you could carry it in openly. This is truly insane.

Posted by: Danny McGoldrick | January 27, 2006 9:04 AM

Worse? What's worse is walking through DC fearing for your life because the criminals are armed and the police have no responsibility to protect you... (Warren v. DC, 444 A.2d 1 (D.C.App. 1981).

What's insane is the media brainwashing the US population that the legal use and possession of firearms is somehow wrong.

Posted by: Jeff Klein | January 27, 2006 9:10 AM

Quick question for you Marc:

Where locally is there more crime committed with guns?

Ok, I lied... a few questions...

Which jurisdictions locally have more people injured or killed by gunfire?

Which has higher property crime?
Which has higher violent crime?

Do you see where this is going Marc? No?
I didn't think you would. Do I need to use small words?

You see, this is the only thing you've had to point to on the subject of guns in a long time, and you have capitalized on it well. But where is your sarcasm to be directed at the 4 dozen plus law enforcement agencies in Washington DC for their complete inability to control any type of crime? What does Chief Ramsey say? Some type of crime is going down? No kidding... When you lead the free world in violent crimes, you have nowhere to go but down in the rankings...

Instead of clearing your desk of things to do and paying attention to only Virginia, how about putting the DC Government under a little more scrutiny for their abject failure at controlling crime? How about you concern your fears with the area with the biggest problems... You stand a better chance of getting stabbed, bludgeoned or shot in Washington, DC than anywhere in Virginia... Especially the General Assembly building.

Posted by: Dave | January 27, 2006 9:15 AM

No problems with carrying a gun, but to have a round chambered? Sheesh, this guy is a few sandwiches short of a picnic.
Even the tv cop shows routinely show the "lock and load" or "click-click" to chamber a round before entering a potentially dangerous situation. There's a difference betwen a having a magazine in and having a round ready to fire. Where was his safety switch?

Noce blog, but I think the WAPO has the ability to post a photo of the gun from more official sites, like perhaps the gun mfr, than a Left wing democratic party site. by doing that, you have lost some credibility. Can't you get a copy of his ocncealed carry permit?

Posted by: Al | January 27, 2006 9:26 AM

Marc, you questioned if Reid expected an assault from one of his Democratic colleagues. I would offer that he probably carries from his car to his office. I am not sure what the parking situation is at his offices, but chances are they are not secure and as a result it is perfectly reasonable for him to carry a firearm to his office for his personal protection.

Posted by: Daniel | January 27, 2006 9:39 AM

I actually set off the metal detectors at the Wilson Building last Wednesday -- so maybe they do work, at least some of the time.

Posted by: cminus | January 27, 2006 9:39 AM

I think it is smart that Mr. Reid takes his firearm into his well protected office, rather than leave it in his car, where it could get stolen. It has the added advantage that he has the firearm on his person when he leaves his office. Other than that, Germantown is in Maryland, not Virginia.

Posted by: Menno Aartsen | January 27, 2006 9:42 AM

I wonder if anything will happen to Reid (probably nothing, since he's got connections). My neighbor lost his right to own a gun a few years back because it "accidentally discharged" when he went out to his backyard in the middle of the night to check on a noise, which happened to be some high school vandals running through his yard. Luckily, no one was shot.

And saying crime in the state of Virginia is lower than in DC simply because Virginia residents are allowed to carry handguns is a stupid, simplistic argument, and you know it, Dave.

There is nothing wrong with sensible gun legislation, but unfortunately that will never happen in Virginia.

Posted by: Old Dominion | January 27, 2006 9:44 AM

I find it vexing to see yet another legislator proving the example of "Laws, like taxes are for the little people"

Just like Diane Feinstein who despite being one of the most outspoken proponents of gun control, has a rare concealed carry permit. That's right, the woman who said "If I could have gotten 51 votes for a total gun ban, I would have said "Turn them all in Mr. and Mrs. America" carries a .38 cal special (just the like 7 year old who shot the 8 year old. Why is she special? Because she is a lawmaker and doesn't have to bother with the laws she would impose on others.

As a law-abiding citizen who has a concealed carry permit, I cannot legally carry a firearm into any government building. I have to rely on the guards and the metal detectors to provide for my safety. Unfortunately as the shooting in the U.S. Capital Building proved when you have to rely on others for your safety you are at risk.

Let our lawmakers have to put up with the laws that the "little people" are subject to. That means that if I can't carry in a government building, they can't either.

It worked well here in Ohio, our AG made it plain that off duty police officer have to abide by the same restrictions as any other concealed carry holder: Plain sight in car, no carry in bars, government buildings, daycare centers, and schools. They protested mightily but he held his ground.

Now they want to change the law because it restricts their "rights"

Welcome to the club boys, welcome to the club.

Posted by: Jeff | January 27, 2006 9:55 AM

If Delegate Reid wants to keep his gun in his office, that's fine. But once he's fired the weapon in a public building - not in self defense - he's commiting a crime and should be punished like everyone else. This isn't a 2nd Amendment issue, it's a public safety issue.

Posted by: CT | January 27, 2006 10:17 AM

I agree 100% with the position that everyone packing means we're all safer. I saw a bumper sticker once that read, more guns equals less crime, it's common sense! No, common sense is more guns equals LESS crime. It is on this issue that I have to depart from the "liberal" point of view. On this issue, the democrats for the most part are like Bush, dismissing reality in order to embrace a position that defies it.
If taking away the guns is the answer, why does Washington DC consistenly lead the nation in per capita homicides, most committed with firearms? Those laws don't work. They result in armed criminals preying on unarmed citizens.
Carrying openly is permitted in numerous states. My money says that it has a far greater chance of staying in my pocket and not ending up in a scumbag's pocket if I'm walking down the street with a .45 strapped to my leg where everyone can see it.
I encourage everyone to read any of the local Gazette newspapers. I don't see how you can read the police report section and not come away with the distinct impression that it is not safe to walk the streets anywhere these days, unless you're armed. Look what happened to Mr. Rosenbaum when he had the audacity to try to go out for a walk. Executed, beaten to death for his credit cards. How about the families that were slaughtered in Richmond?
I live in anti-gun MD, and am seriously conteplating moving to VA so that I have the option of protecting myself as I go about my business.
Marc Fisher thinks I should just rely on hope, or luck, or a guardian angel. Thanks, but I'll rely on my 1911 .45, which I hope I never have to point at another human being, but if a scumbag tries to rob or attack me when I have access to my weapon, we won't have to worry about how much the trial will cost the taxpayers.
As in the Rosenbaum case, and the evil that was perpetrated in Richmond shows, some criminals don't care whether you cooperate or not. They want your money AND your life.
I guess Marc Fisher dosen't grasp the fact that there are people out there that will cut the throat of small children for mininmal fincancial gain. Two families in Richmond where slaughtered. I'm vulnerable on the streets of MD, because in this state it is a crime for a law abiding citizen to carry a firearm for protection. In my home I have a loaded weapon within arm's reach at all times. When I cut my lawn I do so with a loaded pistol strapped to my side.
Gee Marc, can you give us the 800 number or the e-mail address of the guardian angel division upstairs so we can pray that we don't get robbed, maimed, killed just for tyring to live our lives?
I think there are a whole lot of dead people, some who suffered greatly at the hands of scum before they died, whose last thoughts were, damn I wish I had a gun!

Posted by: Anonymous | January 27, 2006 10:39 AM

He needs to resign.

Posted by: Not Larry Sabato | January 27, 2006 10:40 AM

I agree with Al, I think providing a link to a left-wing webiste is a cheap shot, low-blow, cheesy. And I think it definitely detracts from the overall premise and that Fisher loses some credibility. The link shouldn't say here's a pic of the type of gun Reid was carrying, it should read, here's a link to a far left-wing website that includes a pic of the type of gun. I was interested in seeing the pic, not the propaganda that accompanies it.

Posted by: Glen | January 27, 2006 10:43 AM

Typical. Reid's action only further points out the all too frequent result of gun ownership. More often than not its an innocent bystander or the owner himself who gets shot. He's lucky. You can fix some mistakes, but its a lot more difficult to take back the bullet you just put into someone's body.

Protection my ass. Who's going to protect me from the gun nuts?

Posted by: AS | January 27, 2006 10:46 AM

Annonymouse Poster: "I live in anti-gun MD, and am seriously conteplating moving to VA so that I have the option of protecting myself as I go about my business." That's great, but once you fire the weapon "accidently" you are endangering innocent people and you should be punished. Period. Your right to self-protection does not supercede the right of the public not to be killed by stray "accidental" rounds. Freedom requires personal discipline and responsibility. Show some.

Posted by: CT | January 27, 2006 10:48 AM

Where is Darwin when you need him?

One would think that the people who actually feel that they need to have a gun AND a bulletproof vest would also need a bulletproof genital cuff. I am surprised that there isnt a market for it.

To me, thats the last thing that I would want shot off.

I mean, then how could they procreate and create more Republicans, or something like that?

Posted by: kme | January 27, 2006 11:21 AM

And to the people posting here touting that they want to move to VA to own a gun to protect themselves and this and that............. I would put my life savings on the matter that if it came down to it, you wouldn't have the cajones to pull that trigger. Stay in MD.

Posted by: kme | January 27, 2006 11:23 AM

Va. rednecks are all the same.

Posted by: edbstrat | January 27, 2006 11:37 AM

Delegate Yosemite Sam!

Posted by: Anonymous | January 27, 2006 12:04 PM

I half-wonder if he was goobering around with pointing at that vest and pulled the trigger without thinking, then came up with the "I was unloading it" story. I'm all in favor of gun ownership and the right to personal defense, but I'm pretty anti-stupid. Reid needs to go back to firearm safety class.

Posted by: AlexVA | January 27, 2006 12:22 PM

Your attempt to link this incident to the shooting of that little girl last week is disingenuous and an a shameful political exploitation of tragedy. There's no connection between the two events. You are grossly exaggerating some inside joke between Reid and the Henrico Police to suggest that Reid thinks little girls dying is funny. It reminds me a great deal of Republicans after 9/11 saying that we need to crack down on this Bill of Rights thing, or school administrators who wanted to expel teenagers wearing all black after Columbine. You had a previous grudge against a particular civil right and you're callous enough to use and misrepresent any human tragedy to take a poke at those who defend it.

What this all comes down to is one guy being an idiot and unable to properly handle a firearm. Most of the other permit holders are responsible people. Delegate Reid should not renew his permit and should leave the gun at home as he is clearly one of the few people unable to handle it safely.

By the way, I'm a devoted, active Democrat and totally in favor of any bill to stop universities from restricting posession of firearms on campus. I lived in a dorm on a campus in Massachusetts for a year and was treated like a criminal for wanting to own a .22 rifle that I used for target shooting. I was banned from keeping it in my room, which was a huge inconvenience.

'Second Amendment Zones' don't make any more sense than the GOP's Orwellian 'Free Speech Zones.' Students are guaranteed free speech on public college campuses because the Constitution guarantees us this right. That same Constitution guarantees us the right to bear arms. I suggest that it is a very bad idea for you to ask that we start picking and choosing which parts of the Constitution we want to allow and which parts we're going to dismantle. Because there are people in the White House right now who would take that idea and put you (and most other journalists) in a Eastern Europe concentration camp without a pen or a lawyer.

Posted by: Jack Landers | January 27, 2006 12:31 PM

I agree Delegate Jack Reid was stupid for having a Negelgent Discharge (It wasn't accidental, guns just don't randomly go off) He needs to retake a class or two.

However, good old "redneck" virginia with all it's guns seems to have less problems with guns. Good old MD has 8 year olds shooting each other and DC, well let's not get started there.

I agree with Al that linking to a left wing Democratic site to simply show the image of a gun was in poor taste.

However, Al has been watching too many fake cop shows. Every cop I know and every Concealed carry permit holder I know keeps a round in the chamber. Modern handguns used by police and civilians alike will not simply go off unless you pull the trigger. In most situations, you will not have time to pull out your weapon and rack the slide.

Posted by: Chris | January 27, 2006 12:39 PM

Having all legislators packing heat would definitely speed up debates and decisions. But I think bullet-proof vests should be available to all visitors to the General Ass.

Posted by: Paul | January 27, 2006 12:42 PM

A person who doesn't know his gun well enough that he "surprised" when it "accidentally" goes off while cleaning it should love the right to have one. It's that simple. I'm sorry, but guns don't "accidentally" go off.

Posted by: ET | January 27, 2006 12:44 PM

LOSE the right, not LOVE it. My slip.

Posted by: ET | January 27, 2006 12:45 PM

This is not a Second Amendment issue. The real issue here is what to do about an official who behaved irresponsibly and dangerously. At the very least, his permit should be yanked. Yes?

Posted by: Carl | January 27, 2006 12:52 PM

AS said" "More often than not its an innocent bystander or the owner himself who gets shot." Care to back that opinion up with numbers? You are more likely to get killed in a car accident than by a gun. Especially if you ride anywhere with Ted Kennedy. Here are the numbers:

The number of privately owned guns in the U.S. is at an all-time high, and rises by about 4.5 million per year.1 Meanwhile, the nation's violent crime rate has decreased every year since 1991 and is now at a 27-year low.2 Below, statistics from 1981 forward are from the National Center for Health Statistics,3 while those prior to 1981 are from the National Safety Council.4 The NCHS' annual numbers, rates, and trends of common accidents and selected other causes of death, for the U.S., each state, and the District of Columbia.

* Firearm accident deaths have been decreasing for decades. Since 1930, their annual number has decreased 76%, while the U.S. population has more than doubled and the number of firearms has quintupled. Among children, such deaths have decreased 89% since 1975.
* Firearm accident deaths are at an all-time annual low, nationally and among children, while the U.S. population is at an all-time high. In 2002, there were 762 such deaths nationally, including 60 among children. Today, the odds are more than a million to one against a child in the U.S. dying from a firearm accident.
* The firearm accident death rate is at an all-time annual low, 0.26 per 100,000 population, down 92% since the all-time high in 1904.
* Firearms are involved in 1% of all deaths, and 1% of all deaths among children. Deaths involving firearms have decreased 19% since 1993.
* Firearms are involved in 0.7% of accidental deaths nationally, and in 1% among children. Most accidental deaths involve, or are due to, motor vehicles (41%), poisoning (16%), falls (15%), suffocation (5%), drowning (3%), fires (3%), medical mistakes (2%), environmental factors (1%), and bicycles (1%). Among children: motor vehicles (44%), suffocation (16%), drowning (16%), fires (9%), bicycles (2%), poisoning (2%), falls (2%), environmental factors (1%), and medical mistakes (1%)

So it seems that once again....emotion gets in the way of the facts.

Posted by: Jeff | January 27, 2006 12:54 PM

Let's stop foaming at the mouth and get some reality into this conversation.

1. DC does not lead the nation in murders on a regular basis. This is a lie which has been perpitrated by the Gun Lovers, NRA, and everybody else who wants to dump on the City. Frankly, most of the crime committed in DC is committed by 435 Representatives and 100 Senators. None of whom are from DC.

2. Sure, there are thugs who carry guns in DC. They can get them easily from VA.

3. The "everybody has a right to Pack" argument is only consitutional in the minds of people who dream that they are in Dodge City in 1875. The Supreme Court has, consistantly, voided that argument...for 200 years.

4. The parallel between the accidental shooting in Gaithersburg and the accidental discharge in Richmond is obvious, unless you are dumb enough to close your eyes to reality.

Posted by: Catcher50 | January 27, 2006 12:58 PM

Having students carry guns into class is basically an insane idea.

If student attitudes toward alcohol, for example, demonstrate their judgment and their maturity, carrying guns to class will make their lack of judgment even more obvious.

Unless they're intending to rob their grades from their teachers or rob wallets from their fellow students.

Posted by: Bill | January 27, 2006 1:09 PM

Having students carry guns into class is basically an insane idea.

If student attitudes toward alcohol, for example, demonstrate their judgment and their maturity, carrying guns to class will make their (lack of) judgment even more obvious.

Unless they're intending to rob their grades from their teachers or rob wallets from their fellow students.

At the very least, teachers in Virginia should be given guns so they can protect themselves against irate students.

"Shoot first. Ask questions later" would probably have a dampening effect on class discussions.

Of course, if the law insists that guns be carried openly, all would be well. At least the unarmed students and teachers could leave class and let the guntoters talk to each other in comfort and fearlessness.

Posted by: Bill | January 27, 2006 1:12 PM

The number of gunowners is more important than the number of guns.

Posted by: Bill | January 27, 2006 1:15 PM

Jeff- nice stats. Since you seem to be so good with the numbers I was wondering if you could find the one that compares the number of intruders and/or criminals shot and killed to the number of handgun murders.

For your 762 "accidental" gun deaths there were over 11,000 homicides.

11,000. I would consider a murder victim an innocent bystander. Would you?

Maybe I can help you--- Of the over 30,000 handgun deaths in 2002 (I'll keep it simple for you and use your numbers)- 300 were considered "legal intervention"

A statistic means nothing if you only present half the equation.

Posted by: AS | January 27, 2006 1:29 PM

Catcher seem to be ill-informed. Far from voiding the 2nd Admendment right to bear arms has upheld this right including the following:

"U.S. V. Verdugo-Urquidez (1990)
The Supreme Court observed in U.S. v. Verdugo-Urquidez (1990) "`the people` seems to have been a term of art employed in select parts of the Constitution. The Preamble declares that the Constitution is ordained and established by `the People of the United States.` The Second Amendment protects `the right of the people to keep and bear Arms,` and the Ninth and Tenth Amendments provide that certain rights and powers are retained by and reserved to `the people.`"

"Gun prohibitionists often claim that the United States Supreme Court has held that the Second Amendment does not guarantee an individual right to keep and bear arms, but offers only a "collective right" for the organized military forces of the states to have governmentally owned arms. This "Collective Rights" approach is a newcomer to theories of constitutional law and made its first appearance only in the Twentieth Century. Not only does the "Collective Rights" approach run counter to overwhelming textual and historical evidence, but the Supreme Court has never held such a theory applicable to the Second Amendment.

Dred Scott v. Sandford was the first case in which the Supreme Court mentioned the right to keep and bear arms. The issue before this pre-Civil War and pre-emancipation court was whether blacks were "citizens." The court stated that if blacks were citizens, they would have the same constitutional protections afforded to white citizens, which included the right to keep and bear arms.

"It would give to persons of the negro race . . . the right to enter every other State whenever they pleased, . . . and it would give them the full liberty of speech . . . ; to hold public meetings upon political affairs, and to keep and carry arms wherever they went." The court specifically placed the right to keep and bear arms in the same category as the other fundamental individual rights that are protected from governmental infringement by the Bill of Rights: "Nor can Congress deny to the people the right to keep and bear arms, nor the right to trial by jury, nor compel any one to be a witness against himself in a criminal proceeding."

Nowhere in the opinion does the court suggest that the right to keep and bear arms differs from other fundamental rights and protects only the state government's organized military. Clearly, the court considered the right to keep and bear arms as a fundamental individual right of every "citizen."

United States v. Cruikshank, a post-Civil War and post-emancipation case, arose out of the disarmament and murder of freed blacks in Louisiana (the "Colfax Massacre"). Klansmen were subsequently charged by the federal prosecutor with a conspiracy to prevent blacks from exercising their civil rights, including the right of peaceful assembly and the right to keep and bear arms. The court recognized that the right to peacefully assemble and the right of the people to keep and bear arms were natural rights which even preexisted the Constitution.

The court stated, however, that the First and Second Amendment rights were protections against the federal government only, and did not restrict state government action. The court held that because these fundamental rights existed independently of the Constitution, and because the First and Second Amendments guaranteed only that these rights shall not be infringed by the federal Congress, the federal government had no power to punish a violation of these rights by the Klansmen, who were private individuals. Although the Second Amendment protected a citizen from having his right to keep and bear arms violated by the federal government, the Second Amendment did not protect a citizen from the acts of other private persons."

As far as the "accident" in Gaithersburg...didn't I read that the boy announced he was robbing the girl. Sounds like a thug in training to me.

"Maryland prosecutors have filed charges against an 8-year-old boy who shot and wounded a 7-year-old girl after threatening to rob her at a suburban day care center, The Washington Post said on Wednesday."

Gee in DC your chances of being murdered are 5.75 times the national average....sounds like they are doing good job there...only New Orleans beat DC in the murder rate per 100,000. I guess if you can't be number 1, number 2 will suffice.

Posted by: Anonymous | January 27, 2006 1:37 PM

I think people need to give this guy a break. He apologized, he admitted he was wrong. Calling for him to step down is really over the top. He didn't take the gun into the building with the intent of shooting anyone. Downtown Richmond is not the safest area, so what is so wrong with him exercising his right to carry the weapon for protection? Furthermore, in rural VA where I grew up, people leave their doors unlocked and keys in their cars and the reason they can is because everyone has guns and more importantly everyone knows that the majority have guns. I know that it is hard to compare rural and urban, but the basic premise is the same.

Posted by: SB | January 27, 2006 1:39 PM

Actually the homicide rate in DC is declining and has been for some years. Unfortunately the homicide for the immediate suburbs is increasing, specifically in PG County. The irony of course being that DC and MD have some of the most restrictive gun laws in the country.

I don't think it matters if you're carrying or not. If the other gunman knows what he's doing you're dead. End of story.

Posted by: dc rez | January 27, 2006 1:45 PM

SB, should Mr. Reid be allowed simply to apologize if he's arrested for drunk driving? Getting in a barroom brawl? He broke a law, he should be punished. You don't fire a gun in a public building. It's hideously stupid and dangerous to others.

Posted by: CT | January 27, 2006 2:01 PM

The folks who argued that packing makes us safer are really living in fantasy land. Particularly the person who made the argument that DC's crime rate shows that gun bans don't work.

Take a look at Richmond, which is in the heart of gun-toting Virginia. The murder rate is 6 times the national average. The violent crime rate is twice the national average. So much for legalized guns reducing crime.

To all you gun promoters: get a clue. We'd all be a lot safer and better off if you did.

Posted by: NO MORE GUNS | January 27, 2006 2:07 PM

AS....did you ever consider that "legal interventions" were police shootings? Sounds about right according to this:

Posted by: Anonymous | January 27, 2006 2:07 PM

Jeff, please provide citations for your statistics. And FYI, the NRA does not count as a reputable statistical clearinghouse. To put a few of your stats in context:
-Yes, violent crime has decreased every year since 1991. Your posting tries to sugest this has something to do with increased gun ownership. However, it is more likely attributable to an "ag-out" effect. At the time when violent crime rates were highest, the U.S. also had the highest number of teenagers since we started keeping good numbers on that sort of thing. It is well known that young males are most prone to crime. More teenage males=more crime. The reverse is true as well. By 1991, many of those kids who were commiting crimes in the mid-80s aged out of the behavior or were incarcerated. See Sampson and Laub for a sociological theory on aging out, and Moffitt for biological. Sorry Jeff.
- I get the impression you think the world is a big, bad place, but the truth is that the people you know pose the greatest threat to you, not strange DC people creeping into your VA home. The notion of protecting your home and possessions is ridiculous in light of your real risks.
- You seem to have a threshold for how many firearm deaths of children are appropriate. Yes, the rates have gone down. However, the last available stats still indicate that 9 kids a day are killed by guns. If it were more, would you then care?

Posted by: crim girl | January 27, 2006 2:09 PM

I have come to the conclusion that people generally have no business owning and carrying firearms. The arguments made by the pro-gun people on this blog only support this conclusion. The stupidity of delegate Reid makes the conclusion inescapable.

When guns and people mix, bad things inevitably happen. In some cases, the bad things are intentional crimes. In other cases, they are accidental shootings of 7 year old girls.

I have yet to see any convincing argument that guns benefit society. Sure, they benefit the industry that profits from them, and they benefit the insecure psychotics who feel the need to carry them. But for the vast majority of innocent, mentally-balanced, law-abiding citizens, guns are a scourge. Get rid of them.

Posted by: Anonymous | January 27, 2006 2:20 PM

I think we're all missing the point. It was incredibly convenient and lucky that he shot the bullet proof vest. So, option one is he meant to do it, and never figured that people would be upset by it (pretty naive). Option two is he didn't mean to shoot the gun, and was INCREDIBLY lucky that he didn't shoot someone walking past the office (very dangerously stupid). This is not an issue about whether people are safer with or without guns, everyone's only quoting the statistics here that they want too, no one's telling the whole truth on this issue. And the GA Building is a pretty safe place, and the walk from where the Delegates park to the building is pretty safe, but you're never going to tell Jack Reid that he shouldn't do what he wants to do, he won't listen. The REAL point of all of this is that Jack Reid is an arrogant and stupid man, who has enough money to be elected Delegate in Virginia. No matter what he won't be asked to resign, if he was asked he would never do it, and he'll be reelected in 07, because a majority of voters in his district are just like him, arrogant and stupid.

Posted by: Not Jack Reid | January 27, 2006 2:31 PM

The problem is most of us are not able to distiguish a "scumbag" from the rest of us. We go by what is profiled on the news every night. I know that criminals carry weapons but unless you wish to join the ranks of criminals you should be formally trained in the same ways police officers are in order to legally carry. Otherwise you are no more a solution to the crime problem as the criminals if you out on the street guessing at who the scumbags are. You will probably end up shooting some kid trying to commit some petty crime before you shoot a real menice to society. Drug dealers get killed all the time and they carry, concealed and the people who killed them know that they are armed. What makes us think we are safer from those same people just because we carry? We dont have the same mentality as a criminal. If a person is going to rob you and he thinks your carrying he will just shoot you first then rob you. If im a criminal thats what I would start doing. I would not quit being a criminal just because more citizens carry guns, thats reality. What makes a criminal quit being a criminal is getting caught by police. Were scared citizens not cops. So when a group of kids with cornrolls and baggy pants are at the intersection your about to cross what makes you so sure you can determine the scumbags from the kids who dress the same as the scumbags in a window of a few seconds. Maybe more guns will make us feel safer but will it actually make us safer is the real question that has yet to be proven. VA has a low crime rate because of its police enforcement, not becuase everyone is packing. Remember Virginians, even scumbags have family, and if your an average citizen and you shoot a scumbag it highly likely that his friends, brothers and cousins will seek revenge, may find out were you live, go after you and your family. Remember the scumbags family is not going to thank you for shooting them, they will want an eye for an eye, just like they do in the hoods that you hear about on the news. One guy was killed becuase of revenge from another killing. Then what? you man up with all your family and registered weapons and go after his family? Its not as simple as you virginians like to make it. Citizens packing does not scare criminals, it just makes them more aware. Criminals are afraid of twe things, law enforcement or other criminals. Unless your willing to join either, keep your registered guns at home where they belong. If someone breakes into your home while you or your family is there then feel free to blast away because you know they are a scumbag for sure.

Posted by: gmoney65 | January 27, 2006 2:38 PM

Gmoney, if they don't offer me any of their cornrolls, I'd definitely consider the kids scumbags.

Posted by: flunky | January 27, 2006 2:50 PM


You are so right. Citizens packing does not prevent crime. Look at Richmond itself for an example of a high crime rate in a "packing" state. Criminals are not afraid of the concealed gun -- it is too easy to get the upper hand through surprise.

But i think you are wrong to miss the broader point about gun control. The absurdity of the Reid incident, particularly when juxtaposed by the 8 year old shooting the 7 year old, clearly shows that it is too easy to get and carry a gun.

Posted by: Anonymous | January 27, 2006 3:17 PM

My question is, does anyone believe Reid? He was obviously screwing around with his gun and shot the bulletproof vest. The gun just "went off" and happened to hit the vest? Come on.

Posted by: Ryan | January 27, 2006 3:34 PM

People in VA carry guns AND leave their cars unlocked. Do they leave their guns in their cars as well?

In any event,any people opposed to the Second Amendment (or ANY of the amendments--including President Bush's nemesis, the Fourth) should start the ball rolling for an amendment. The legal route to change is provided in the Constitution. Use it.

Posted by: Bill | January 27, 2006 3:37 PM

A couple things:

First, even though I don't think people should be allowed to carry handguns, I don't think that's the issue here. We all can agree that some people (convicted felons, young children, etc.) shouldn't carry handguns. I think that Jack Reid should now be in that category. What kind of idiot does something like this?

Second, there has been some talk about the Second Amendment on this blog today. The Second Amendment does not apply to the states - in legal terms, it has never been "incorporated" - so you don't need a US constitutional amendment. Any state can ban guns completely.

Posted by: Steve | January 27, 2006 3:41 PM

Anon Poster...You are taking things totally out of context. Yes, the Supremes have said, for 200 years that the constitution does not allow you to simply walk around the street, packing. It is a description of a rightfully constituted militia.

As for your statistics???? when are you quoting from? What is your source? Are you comparing DC or DC and environments? Are you making the comparison to another city of similar size or are you including Mason City, Iowa? BTW, do you factor in that DC is the only city that had its boundries set 200 years ago and had, effectively, populated all of its available area a century ago? What is your context, or is that a concept that is beyond your bumper sticker mentality?

Posted by: Catcher50 | January 27, 2006 3:44 PM

Richmond has a high murder rate due to the drug trafficing along 95 and the crime spawned from drugs. Unfortunately most of the murders are committed in South Richmond or the "courts" Gilpin, Moseby, etc. And you better believe if I was walking around these high crime areas I'd be packing too. I feel bad for all the people who were killed in the home invasions around here. Just another case for the right to bear arms. Police didn't show up until they were already dead, which is usually the case. Crim girl, I can name one society that benefitted from guns. It's called the US, France, UK; and if we didn't have guns we'd be speaking German or Japanese right now.

Posted by: greyhound123 | January 27, 2006 3:49 PM

All in a day's news: 4 stories from today's Washington Post. It's a larger story--

HEADLINE: SWAT Tactics at Issue After Fairfax Shooting
"But Fairfax Police Chief David M. Rohrer said a 17-year police veteran with long experience in the tactical unit accidentally fired his gun, killing Culosi.
The officer was not named, and police could not say why his gun went off."

HEADLINE: Gun-Toting Delegate Misfires at Va. Capitol
"Even a few hours after the incident, Reid -- a 16-year veteran and one of the House of Delegates' most popular and free-spirited members -- was at a loss to explain how an experienced gun owner found himself discharging a firearm during one of the busiest parts of the business day at the state Capitol complex."

HEADLINE: Scene Set in Day-Care Shooting;
Prosecutor Gives Account at Bond Hearing for Boy's Father
"Moments before an 8-year-old boy shot another child at their day-care center this week, he told her to 'give me your money,' a prosecutor said yesterday. 'What do you want? Nickels, dimes or pennies? I'm broke,' the 7-year-old girl responded, according to the prosecutor. Then a bullet from a .38-caliber revolver pierced her upper right arm."

HEADLINE: Boy Killed, Youth Charged in Roulette Game
"A Northeast Washington teenager has been arrested and charged in the shooting death of a 13-year-old friend during a game of Russian roulette last week, D.C. police said. The 15-year-old suspect, whose name was not released because of his age, is accused of killing Isaiah Patterson in the 5100 block of Just Street NE about 11 a.m. Jan. 18, police said."

Posted by: EJG | January 27, 2006 4:00 PM

Best part of this discussion is the guy who said.."When I cut my lawn I do so with a loaded pistol strapped to my side."

Not only that, but apparently he lives with a pistol within reach at all times.

Um, does anyone else find that a bit odd? How about just straight up scary?

These people are real, they're armed to the teeth and they're in your neighborhood. Don't buy your comfortable nightly news stereotype that its always some drug crazed black dude shooting up a crack house. No, no. The real danger comes from wackos like this fella who carry a pistol while they mow the lawn. That's fine I guess if your lawn is in Montana. Those are the guys you read about showing up at their office with an automatic rifle and death wish.

Yeah, that's exactly what the framers intended.

Posted by: hee haw | January 27, 2006 4:04 PM

First: This op ed by Marc took a rather isolated incident and blew it up into a statement about society and firearms in general. That link to the "photo" was so blatantly biased. Was it dumb of the official in question to be handling a loaded firearm inside? Yes- undoubtedly. But that one act of stupidity doesn't condemn owners of firearms, or even handgun owners in general. 99.999% of firearm owners are 100% responsible. Firearms are used for a variety of uses- not just for self defense. Hunting, recreational shooting, competitive shooting, and yes-home and personal defense are all normal, justifiable, and God given (and Constitutionaly backed up) rights of American citizens.
The shooting sports are some of the safest around. The injury/death rates of hunters and target shooters are very, very low as compared to sports like football, motorcycle racing, rock climbing, skiing, etc.. do you hear anyone calling for the banning of football?
Are crimes committed with guns? Yes-of course. But the vast majority of firearm related crime is done with illegally obtained guns anyway, so restrictive gun ownership laws wouldn't cure that problem at all. Crimes are also committed with knives, baseball bats, cars... should we ban all of those too? Did you know that far more money is stolen each year by computer/internet fraud than by gun robberies? Maybe we should ban computers and the internet... Crack down on the criminals- not law abiding citizens who own a firearm.
And here's one more FACT that the anti-gun groups absolutely hate- families with a strong involvement in the shooting sports and hunting have a much lower rate of family problems- divorce, children with substance abuse problems, obesity...
The family that shoots together stays together!

Posted by: Normal Virginian | January 27, 2006 4:16 PM

Ahh Richmond. What a shame, once a lovely southern city, now this ghetto rivals many northeastern, mid-Atlantic cities for all the wrong reasons. You people believe in straight talk? How’s this: the blacker the city, the more propensity for violent crime, and Richmond is pretty damn black.

No doubt this will be met by a vast condemnation, but ask yourself is it true? I don’t need to speak about DC, I think everyone has a pretty good picture of New Orleans, and they are chocolate cities 1 and 2. So what gives?

Before you slam this as a racist diatribe, consider this perspective. I am sure many of WP’s readers consider themselves to be ‘racially enlightened’ types, i.e. all of humanity is created equal. That is a good concept, one I wholly agree with, but if you can’t even enter a conversation and be honest about race, regardless of the ugliness of that honesty, then you are not enlightened.

Posted by: BAI | January 27, 2006 4:17 PM

Crim are a big girl look it up on Google. Just in cause you are google impaired my Stats come from the FBI Uniform Crime statistics database. You might try reading a bit more of the DOJ database as some of the info came from there as well

As for your throwaway comment on the level of children's deaths....that is a typical emotional arguement. I took at look at your second link and noticed that it focused on children aged 0-4 and 5-14. Now can we assume the following:

Most deaths of children are not natural due to sickness, nost are accidents. So that being the case lets look at some statistics reguarding cause of death among children.

If we are talking just about injuries in the home consider the following:

In 2002, approximately 2,100 children ages 14 and under died in the home from unintentional injuries. More
than 70 percent of these deaths occurred among children ages 4 and under.

Fire and flame burns

In 2002, at least 330 children ages 14 and under died from fires and burns in the home. Of these
children, 45 percent were ages 4 and under.


In 2002, an estimated 620 children ages 14 and under suffocated in the home. Of these children, nearly
90 percent were ages 4 and under.


In 2002, an estimated 420 children ages 14 and under drowned in or around the home. Of these
children, more than 80 percent were ages 4 and under.


In 2002, an estimated 160 children ages 14 and under choked to death in the home. Of these children,
nearly 90 percent were ages 4 and under.


In 2002, an estimated 20 children ages 14 and under died as the result of falls in the home. Of these
deaths, 10 were children ages 4 and under.


In 2002, an estimated 50 children ages 14 and under died from poisonings in the home.
Unintentional firearm injury

In 2002, an estimated 80 children ages 14 and under died from unintentional shootings in the home. Of
these children, nearly 75 percent were ages 5 to 14

So with the exception of falls and poisoning, guns account for a lower number a accidental deaths.

Compared to the risk of dying in a gun accident, a child aged 0-14 is four times more likely to drown, four times more likely to die in a fire, and 13 times more likely to die in an auto accident..

From Children and Guns: Sensible Solutions:

"Although the number of childhood gun accidents is low, and getting lower, some gun prohibitionists contend that outlawing or drastically restricting firearms would be appropriate, "if it saves one life."

If any object which is associated with about 236 accidental childhood deaths a year should be outlawed, then it would be logical to call for the prohibition of bicycles (over 400 child deaths a year). An even larger number of children are killed by motor vehicles (3,263). Four hundred and thirty-two children die annually in fires caused by adults who fall asleep while smoking; the 432 deaths would, by the handgun-banning logic, make a persuasive case for outlawing tobacco.

If the focus is on children under age 5, then outlawing swimming pools and bathtubs (350 drowning deaths) or cigarette lighters (90 deaths) would save many more children under 5 from accidental deaths than would a gun ban (34 deaths).

Thus, the "if it saves one life" anti-accident logic applies with much greater force to bicycles, automobiles, bathtubs, swimming pools, tobacco, and cigarette lighters than to guns. Unlike gunowners, owners of these other objects have no specific Constitutional right of possession. Thus, there would little Constitutional objection to a ban on future production of these items. And while bicycles, bathtubs, and cigarette lighters make life more convenient, these objects do not save lives or prevent injury.

Guns, however, do save lives and prevent crime every day. According to data collected by the anti-gun National Alliance Against Violence, handguns are used about 645,000 times a year for protection against crime. Separate polling, by researcher Gary Mauser, finds that guns of all types are used about 691,000 times annually for protection.

The data are consistent with polling of felony convicts in state prison systems conducted for the National Institute of Justice. Fifty-six percent of the prisoners said that a criminal would not attack a potential victim who was known to be armed. Seventy-four percent agreed with the statement, "One reason burglars avoid houses where people are at home is that they fear being shot during the crime." Thirty-nine percent of the felons had personally decided not to commit a crime because they thought the victim might have a gun, and 8% said the experience had occurred "many times." Criminals in states with higher civilian gun ownership rates worried the most about armed victims.

Even if the figures from the National Alliance Against Violence, Professor Mauser, and the National Institute of Justice were ten times too high, the figures are still far higher than the number of times (zero), that bicycles, bathtubs, and cigarette lighters are used for self-defense each year.

Few persons who want to save "just one life" by banning handguns to eliminate handgun accidents would propose saving many more lives by banning bicycles, bathtubs, and cigarette lighters. Is it possible that the motivation for banning handguns is something other than saving lives?"

Posted by: Anonymous | January 27, 2006 4:33 PM

You Americans are silly. I lived in South America for many years, pretty much every country in South America has the same paralyzing gun laws I’ve seen from DC. Just like DC, my former capital city had a terrible crime problem, just like DC our police cared little for the welfare of the masses. So some state delegate accidentally shoots a gun in his office and you turn it into a national campaign against the 2nd Amendment of your venerable Constitution. This reeks of your illegitimate (and illegal), crusades against tobacco and more recently ‘junk food,’ it is also the reason your country is the world’s laughingstock, even simpleton problems become debilitative to you. How can solve the world’s problems when you can’t even agree to solve your own??

Posted by: Sonso | January 27, 2006 4:38 PM

"Is it possible that the motivation for banning handguns is something other than saving lives?"

I'm glad someone brought this up, I actually believe it is a freedom-snatching directive. What is an unarmed populace if not helpless? When govt takes our guns, they will move on other things too, like the foreign guy said (kind of), yesterday it was tobacco, today its the gun industry, tomorrow it will be your speech. To think otherwise is to have a profound ignorance of human nature as it relates to power.

Posted by: Self-Aligned | January 27, 2006 4:48 PM

Catcher50......I will make a deal with you. If you believe the following about the 2nd Admendment:

"It is a description of a rightfully constituted militia."

Then you will agree with the following:
as to the militia, Title 10 of the United States Code states, among other things, states that the militia is composed of all able-bodied males between the ages of 17 and 45, as well as female officers in the National Guard. As far as I know, that section of Title 10 has never been rescinded or suspended, so I'm sure a good number of us in the U.S. are legally members of the militia.

See the following:

So I guess as part of the Militia (assuming you meet the requirements) you need to step up and report for duty. If you really feel froggy, trying going to Iraq or Afganistan.

Posted by: J | January 27, 2006 4:55 PM

So J, those males under 17 and over 45 can't have guns? And of course, women, who are way too emotional, not in the National Guard can't either.
This went from a story about how stupid Jack Reid is, and how bad of a liar he is that his story was the best excuse he could think of, to you people arguing about the 2nd Amendment. This isn't about the 2nd Amendment, unless you believe, as Steve seems to and as I do, that the really stupid people of this world should not be allowed to carry anything that will do harm to themselves or others that have the misfortune to cross their paths.
Oh yeah, greyhound 123, you now go in that category too . . . the UK was not the country you were thinking of. What idiot told you that, and why did you believe it?

Posted by: Not Catcher50 | January 27, 2006 5:30 PM

Members of the Congress of the United States are allowed to carry firearms in the US Capitol. Why should there be a prohibition against firearms in government buildings when they are allowed in other places? After all, government buildings belong to the people. Texans may carry handguns into the State Capitol if they have a concealed handgun license. Don't like it? Read the Second Amendment to the US Constitution.

Posted by: Jim Harrison | January 27, 2006 5:38 PM

After having read this all, the bottom line here is Delegate Reid screwed up big time. I would expect him to go in for a firearms safety refresher toot sweet. It was little harm, a little foul -- and it's only obvious that it could have been a Big Harm, Big Foul with big consequences. He should take steps to insure his gun handling skills improve.
As for using the image from the Dem site, that IS pretty cheesy and biased. The Dems probably copped the picture from Kel-Tec's site, and it would not have been difficult for Mister Raw to do the same -- right click, dude.

Posted by: Dave Skinner | January 27, 2006 7:06 PM

NotCatcher50.....My point was lost on your obviously. The point is this, why is it that people who claim that the 2nd Adm only refers to the establishment of State or Federal Militias don't want to admit that if that is true then logically they are part of the Militia and thus have the requirement to serve.

So once again, they desire the government to protect them and have no responsibility to protect themselves or their fellow citizens.

As for me, I hope the police will be there to protect me in the event I am a victim of a violent assault....but I am not counting on it. That is why I took the time and the training to get a CCW permit even though I have previous (and current military training). Those who don't live at the mercy of criminals and like sheep exist under the umbrella of protection others provide. To each his own....I hope you are never a victim of crime because like the old saying goes "Better to carry a gun and not need it,than to need and gun and not have it"

BTW the gun that Reid was carrying is a double-action only firearm it has no safety. That means for the gun impaired that the only way to fire it is to pull the trigger completely and totally to the rear. So my guess is that he pulled the trigger after dropping the mag...pretty stupid.

Posted by: J | January 27, 2006 9:04 PM

A check of the online manual for the Keltec confirms the above:

To achieve highest operator safety, combined with ease of handling, the pistol is
"DOUBLE ACTION ONLY". It has no manual safety and the hammer is never
fully cocked.
The hammer is of a novel design. Compared to a conventional hammer, the pistol
is very light and consequently, operates at high velocities. It is driven by a special
free floating extension spring. Furthermore, the hammer's mass is concentrated around its axis giving an inertia in the critical direction of the firing pin close to zero.
In its ready position the hammer is securely held by the hammer block.

Only by deliberately pulling the trigger can the hammer block be disengaged.

The tilting action of the barrel excludes firing unless the breech is fully locked. A direct blow to the hammer is impossible, as it is enclosed by the slide and grip. The hammer's energy is transmitted to the primer through a low mass firing pin.

Posted by: J | January 27, 2006 9:51 PM

I don't see why there's any argument with the idea that it's a bad idea to carry a loaded gun in the state house. There's a time and a place for guns. Go to a gun range. Go hunting. But you're going to have a VERY hard time convincing me that a gun belongs anywhere near a) a school, b) a shopping mall, or c) any place where there are innocents around who could be harmed because you feel unsafe. Where do your rights stop? Where mine start. And frankly, I don't want you carrying a gun around me. There's a middle ground here. Why don't we all find it?

Posted by: bamagirlinVA | January 30, 2006 1:45 PM

bamagirlinVA said

"But you're going to have a VERY hard time convincing me that a gun belongs anywhere near a) a school, b) a shopping mall, or c) any place where there are innocents around who could be harmed because you feel unsafe. Where do your rights stop? Where mine start. And frankly, I don't want you carrying a gun around me."

Not until some thug starts beating, shooting, or raping you, then I bet you would start screaming at the top of your lungs "Shoot him, shoot him" I of course would have to demur to your wishes and would have to decline and follow the advise of time honored victim's advocates, "Be the best witness you can be" Translation, don't get involved and hope the person committing the assault is so focused on what they are doing they don't notice you.

Riiiight....that sounds like a plan, a plan to get killed.

I will make a deal with soon as you can convince criminals not to shoot people in school, shopping malls, any place there are innocents around...I will concede there is no reason not to protect myself.

Of course this would mean that you would have to give up some liberties yourself, such as walking thru a metal detector, paying for more security guards, and of course since metal detectors and guards are fallible, I would suggest random stops and searches at such locations.

Criminals don't care if you have a sign, laws on the books, they are going to do whatever they want to do. That makes you a target...all your goodwill towards your fellow man doesn't mean crap. If they want to hurt you, they will, and you having made the decision not to at least take responsibility for your own protection are the best thing that has happened to them.

I wish you all the luck in the world, cause if the following statistics from the National Safety Council are true, you are more likely to be a victim of violent assault than to be involved in a car wreck:..

Victim of assault 1-211 lifetime odds

Victim of car accident 1-228 lifetime odds

You wear a seat belt don't you?

Posted by: J | January 31, 2006 1:22 PM

Would y'all leave Jack Reid alone. Richmond is one of the most dangerous cities in the country. And the man has a second amendment right to carry a fire arm if he feels the need to defend himself.

Posted by: VA Boy | March 29, 2006 9:29 PM

power to VA boy! Thank God someone has said it!!

Posted by: penelopy | June 1, 2006 2:52 AM

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