Reacting to comments from District of Columbia Police Chief Cathy Lanier last night during CBS’ “60 Minutes” that citizens should take down active shooters if possible, the Citizens Committee for the Right to Keep and Bear Arms this morning challenged the chief to help make that possible in the District by leading the charge to reform the city’s restrictive concealed carry law.
During an interview with Anderson Cooper, Lanier raised eyebrows when she said her advice to citizens caught in a mass shooting was to escape if possible, but if not, “If you’re in a position to try to take the gunman down, to take the gunman out, it’s the best option for saving lives before police can get there.”
But this morning, CCRKBA Chairman Alan Gottlieb suggested her remarks were somewhat disingenuous because the carry law currently in effect in the District has kept nearly everyone unarmed. Only about 45 permits to carry have been okayed by Lanier out of scores, if not hundreds of applications.
“We’re glad Chief Lanier departed from the usual narrative and encouraged people to fight back,” Gottlieb said in a prepared statement, “but her advice would have more credibility if she were to take a leadership role in reforming the District’s gun laws. You can’t fight back if you don’t have the tools, and the only way to take a gunman out, as the chief suggested, is to shoot back. That’s pretty hard if you don’t have a gun.”
Gottlieb, whose organization is headquartered in “the other Washington” – the Pacific Northwest – has been fighting a legal battle with the District via CCRKBA’s sister organization, the Second Amendment Foundation. It was a SAF lawsuit in the Palmer case that forced the city to adopt a carry law, but the city made it so difficult that it virtually prevents most people from getting carry permits.
A subsequent lawsuit, known as Wrenn v. District of Columbia, was dealt a setback last week when it was decided that a judge who offered a favorable ruling did not have the authority to hear that case. So, it may be back to square one, which stalls what some people believe is the inevitable ruling that the District’s current concealed carry law should be tossed.
Meanwhile, Chief Lanier could back up her advice by kicking loose with piles of permits in order to make her scenario closer to reality. Instead, the situation is only marginally better than it was prior to the Palmer case, and it’s a thin margin.
“Millions of honest Americans are licensed to carry all over the country,” Gottlieb noted. “But in the District of Columbia, they’ve written laws to discourage citizens from exercising their Second Amendment right to keep and especially bear arms. That prevents people from defending themselves and their families outside of the home, which is where such an attack would happen.”
All this comes in reaction to the Paris terrorist attack ten days ago. France’s restrictive gun laws keep average people unarmed, which plays well for mass shooters who don’t want to face any resistance. The CBS segment last night covered police response and training to handle an incident here, but Lanier acknowledged that in a mass shooting, most of the mayhem is already finished by the time cops arrive. In such a situation, private citizens are their own first responders.
If Lanier is serious about citizens fighting back, she could become a lightning rod for a change in attitude not just in the District, but across the landscape. Her voice could be a loud one among many for common sense reform of restrictive gun laws that have not prevented crimes or protected anyone, and they certainly haven’t stopped active shooters nor will they discourage terrorists.
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