I just visited Minnesota, which is not only a beautiful state, but an interesting one. It's the state whose former Governor was a professional wrestler, and whose next Senator might be a former comedian. And they've got a gun law there that is, well, quite astounding. Adults are allowed to carry guns almost anywhere. If a place of business doesn't want people to come in toting their weapons, they have to put up a sign saying they ban guns from the premises. If there are no signs, guns are welcome. The reason I was in Minnesota was to visit my sister-in-law who was in the hospital. Sure enough, on the outside of the hospital, was a sign saying I couldn't bring a gun inside. Good idea. Can you imagine what it would be like if people were allowed to bring guns into a hospital? Think of that unhappy patient: "You call this a good nose job, Doc?" BAM!
Out of curiosity, I emailed the state of Minnesota and asked them if it was legal for me to walk into a bank with a gun. Their response was that it was legal unless that bank had a sign that specifically prohibited people from doing so. A bank! And this was the law!
Of course, there are exceptions to this law. People can't bring their guns to school property, jails, or courthouses. My favorite exception is that people are prohibited from carrying their guns onto a field while hunting big game by archery, except when hunting bear. Trust me, I'm never going to put that exception to the test.
On the other hand, there are some circumstances in which you can carry a gun and don't even need a permit. For example, you can carry a gun to and from work, which I'm sure makes "road rage" a little more exciting for everybody.
The official name of the law is the Minnesota Citizen's Personal Protection Act of 2003. To me, a personal protection act is putting on some deodorant. Obviously, those who passed this law believe that people are safer if more of them carry guns. So everywhere I went, I kept looking around me for people with weapons. I didn't see any. Then my brother explained that this was probably because, although it's not required, people are allowed to carry concealed weapons.
I never understand the idea of concealed weapons for "good guys." If you feel your carrying a gun is a deterrent against a bad guy committing a crime against you, wouldn't you want that bad guy to see your gun? If you're wearing your gun in a holster like old-time cowboys, a mugger will probably move onto somebody else. But if you've got that gun hidden in your pants, how is that going to stop a bad guy from trying to hurt you?
Once I learned about this concealed weapons thing, I was checking out everybody, wondering if they were secretly carrying a gun. "How about those three noisy girls behind me in the movie theater? Were they packing lead?" "What about the busty woman on the other side of the restaurant. Did she have a gun in her bra or was she just glad to see me?" "What about that minister striding towards me? Was he a Gunslinger for God?" It makes for a somewhat uneasy visit.
Yet, some people don't think a Minnesota-type law has gone far enough. The governor of Georgia, Sonny Perdue, wants guns to be allowed at public areas of the Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport. "Sonny" said, "If my wife wanted to carry a gun, if she was going from the parking lot, walking from one of those far parking lots to pick up a grandchild or something like that, I think that's a good idea, yes." Sure, who doesn't think it makes perfect sense to pack heat when picking up your grandchildren?
Has the world gone completely insane? There's a governor who thinks it's OK for people to carry guns at the airport, but we're not allowed to carry a bottle of shampoo onto the plane.
Lloyd Garver has written for many television shows, ranging from "Sesame Street" to "Family Ties" to "Home Improvement" to "Frasier." He has also read many books, some of them in hardcover. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Check out his website at lloydgarver.com and his podcasts on iTunes.