Why I Carry

The quest for a lawyer, No. 26, 24 November, 2001

by Paul Hager © 2001

IC Title 35, Article 47, Chapter 2. Regulation of Handguns

Article I, Section 32, Indiana Constitution

IC Title 35, Article 47, Chapter 11. Local Regulation of Firearms

I had hoped by this time that I would be able to report that a legal challenge of the Monroe County ordinance against carry was in progress. Unfortunately, a series of problems have arisen that have delayed this. The most significant of these has been my inability to find any attorney willing to handle the legal challenge pro bono. Of course, I could represent myself, but I am mindful of the admonition, "He who has himself for a lawyer has a fool for a client."

Why haven't any attorneys thus far been willing to get involved? One would think that the political significance alone would make it attractive. Alas, political significance is to a great extent a matter of how much attention the media gives to an issue. That fact is one of the primary reasons that I consider direct action to violate the ordinance to be necessary.

If it is not already apparent, there is a fundamental chicken-egg dilemma here. What is needed to make a challenge high-profile is for it to be undertaken by an organization, not just one individual. That will, in turn, attract attorneys to the case. The problem is that people are loath to get organized and take risks unless there is an attorney on board first.

I don't consider the aforementioned chick-egg problem (or the others I haven't detailed) to be insurmountable. Problems can and will be overcome, but the delays are frustrating.

Since there isn't much to report at the moment, I'll take this opportunity to say some things about the ordinance itself, which is designated 2001-46.

In the preamble, the ordinance states that "...the presence of firearms in county-owned buildings presents a threat to the safety and security of employees and the public while transacting business." It then prohibits the entry into county buildings by any person who possesses a firearm "whether licensed or unlicensed". The Indiana Constitution says that individuals have "the right to bear arms for defense of themselves and the state." How can you defend yourself, or the officials and employees of one of the state's local government units, if said unit disarms you? Obviously, you can't do either. The ordinance renders the constitutional right a nullity.

The commissioners assert that social necessity allows them to nullify a constitutionally protected right. Times have changed and guns borne by ordinary citizens, even those who have been fingerprinted and subjected to extensive criminal background checks (required for the issuance of an Indiana Personal Protection license), are now a "threat" to safety. Even if this so-called "finding" is true, it is not up to county commissioners to overrule the Indiana Constitution.

As anyone who has studied this subject knows, there is simply no evidence armed citizens pose a threat. Even statist Israel recognizes that armed civilians protect the common weal, they don't threaten it. This fact was demonstrated once again on 4 November when a member of the Islamic Jihad terrorist organization opened fire on a city bus in downtown Jerusalem. According to news reports, the attack was promptly terminated when a civilian got out of his car and shot the terrorist.

The ordinance is a totally unjustified infringement of a constitutional right, plain and simple. And it will be challenged. Soon. I promise.