Sheriff educates public on new gun law
Washington County Sheriff Jerry Dunbar has been giving lectures to groups concerning the new firearm concealed carry laws in which he hopes to educate business owners of what they can expect when the law changes on Jan.1.
He also stresses the importance of training if someone chooses to carry a firearm. One of his main concerns is to inform people that just because they would have the right to carry a firearm on their person, that doesn’t give them a license to kill, or even to discharge the gun inside city limits.
“I’ve had people say, ‘Now I can finally shoot the neighbor’s dog,’ or ‘If I’m in a bank and someone robs the place, I can shoot the robber,’” he said. “No. The laws governing the use of firearms won’t change. The law just allows people to carry weapons.”
He said that when the weapons carry and concealed carry law, which is covered on one license, changes in January, people who would have otherwise been turned down for a license will be granted one. According to the new law, the sheriff’s department has no authority to deny a license if all regulations are met. The new law also removes the requirement to take a training course before being issued a license. Dunbar said that applicants have to prove they have had training sometime in the past from a qualified instructor. He also said the sheriff’s department would have to accept an instructor’s approval even if it is “written on a cocktail napkin.”
The law governing the use of firearms is another area Dunbar is concerned about. He isn’t sure they will be taught in private classes. He stressed that if someone shoots a gun, they are responsible for where the bullet impacts and can be liable if an innocent person is shot.
Dunbar said when the law changes, it will be possible to see people openly carrying shotguns or assault rifles in public. At least, people may wear side arms. While the law allows this, he believes most people with permits won’t openly carry guns. Currently, he said, about 95 percent of the people who have concealed weapon permits don’t carry a gun on a regular basis.
Businesses will be able to post signs saying people aren’t allowed to bring guns inside, Dunbar said. Someone violating the law can be charged with trespassing. He believes this will be challenged in court. He also said that people who are legally intoxicated won’t be allowed to have possession of a weapon in public.
For more, see our Oct. 28 print edition.