The Chicago Tribune...again?!


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Monkeyleg
September 18, 2003, 05:24 PM
COMMENTARY: Right-to-carry laws confound expectations
Chicago Tribune
Chicago Final; 27
September 18, 2003
Byline: Steve Chapman

Last week, the Missouri legislature voted to let citizens carry concealed handguns with a state permit, and advocates on either side of the issue were quick to make the usual predictions. Opponents feared an epidemic of gunplay over trivial disputes, and the National Rifle Association announced, "The streets of Missouri just became safer for everyone, except criminals."

Both sides have a stake in pretending that great consequences will follow. But the real news about the "right-to-carry" laws is that there isn't much news.

When Florida became one of the first states to make it possible for people meeting certain conditions to carry side arms in public places, back in 1987, no one really knew what the results would be. Gun advocates assured us that an armed society would be a polite society, and gun-control groups gave the impression that the streets would run red with blood.

Despite the uncertainties, the change soon became a trend. Missouri is the 36th state to adopt such a law. Like other states, it disqualifies convicted felons, the mentally ill and drug abusers, and requires applicants to pass a firearms safety course.

Guns and violence are among the most emotional and bitterly contested issues of our time. But partisans on either side might keep in mind Samuel Johnson's lament: "How small, of all that human hearts endure, that part which laws or kings can cause or cure!" This turns out to be one of those cases in which drastic alterations in government policy have virtually no effect in the lives of most people.

One economist, John Lott Jr. of the American Enterprise Institute in Washington, made his name with a book, "More Guns, Less Crime," presenting a statistical case that conceal-carry laws serve to reduce wrongdoing--presumably by deterring crooks from preying on people who could be packing lethal weapons. But more recent scholarship casts doubt on his findings. Law professors John Donohue of Stanford and Ian Ayres of Yale examined Lott's data, accused him of errors and concluded that the laws didn't reduce crime and may have increased it slightly.

It would take a journalist bolder than I to feign mastery of the regression analyses that the disputants have flung at each other. But a new article by Tomislav Kovandzic of the University of Alabama at Birmingham and Thomas Marvell of Justec Research, published in the journal Criminology and Public Policy, offers further grounds for skepticism about the more-guns-less-crime theory.

They looked closely at Florida's experience and found that its law "had no measurable effect, for good or ill, on violence rates." Supporters of the law can't exactly dismiss their research as liberal propaganda: It comes with the endorsement of Florida State criminologist Gary Kleck--whose research on firearms use has been widely cited to discredit gun control. In light of this study, says Kleck, "I wouldn't expect any effect" from the new Missouri law.

That may be bad news for gun rights groups. But it's not exactly a great boon to gun-control zealots, either. If there had been an epidemic of concealed handgun permit holders blasting away at each other over parking spaces, we would have heard about it. In fact, all evidence indicates that almost all the people who obtain these licenses are responsible and law-abiding.

Since 1987, Florida has issued 859,124 permits. During that period, fewer than 2,000 of them have been revoked by the state because the licensee committed a crime after getting the permit--and only 164 of those crimes involved a gun.

The Violence Policy Center, which opposes right-to-carry laws, has published a report on Texas subtitled "More Guns, More Crime." It trumpets the news that over the course of nearly five years, licensees were arrested for a total of 5,314 crimes--"two and a half crimes a day since the law went into effect." But considering the fact that some 891,000 adults are arrested in Texas every year--more than 2,400 a day--that number doesn't look too scary.

There are currently 234,000 people in the state with conceal-carry licenses. In 2001, reports the Texas Department of Public Safety, only 180 of them were convicted of crimes--including a grand total of one for murder. People without these permits, according to the DPS, account for 99.5 percent of all the crime in Texas.

The advantage of these laws is that they give individuals the means to protect themselves from violence, if they feel the need. But those who expect anything better than that are probably doomed to disappointment. So are those who expect anything worse.

*
Steve Chapman is a member of the Tribune's editorial board. E-mail: schapman@tribune.com
c.2003 Dow Jones Reuters Business Interactive LLC (trading as Factiva). All rights reserved.

*** End of Article ***

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AJ Dual
September 18, 2003, 05:36 PM
Indeed amazing.

I still think they're just doing it to get Dayley's goat for some other hidden agenda.

But if pro-, or at least neutral, RKBA is being used as a pawn in a way that benifits us, so be it. :D

Chipperman
September 18, 2003, 05:46 PM
Article seems to have a even keel.

The last paragraph says it all:
"The advantage of these laws is that they give individuals the means to protect themselves from violence, if they feel the need. But those who expect anything better than that are probably doomed to disappointment. So are those who expect anything worse. "

At least the author accepts that some people Want to and should have the Right to protect themselves.

UnknownSailor
September 18, 2003, 06:23 PM
Nice article, right up until I saw that paragraph concerning the VPC. :mad:

Standing Wolf
September 18, 2003, 07:25 PM
Someone really ought to do a violent crimes per thousand citizens analysis of shall issue states versus may issue states versus non-issue states.

greyhound
September 18, 2003, 07:31 PM
Seemed pretty neutral to me. All the better that at least it (somewhat) acknowledged the right of the individual (as opposed to the state) to defend themselves....

C.R.Sam
September 18, 2003, 08:36 PM
The advantage of these laws is that they give individuals the means to protect themselves from violence, if they feel the need. But those who expect anything better than that are probably doomed to disappointment. So are those who expect anything worse. That's all I ask. The right and means to protect myself and mine.

Sam

Billll
September 18, 2003, 09:53 PM
I downloaded and sifted through the 2001 crime stats for the US, and have concluded that while a shall issue law is probably a helpful tool, the big factor seems to be a crime-intolerant mayor, and a no-nonsense chief of police. NYC got a bigger reduction in crime by electing Guiliani than Florida got from CCW.

Guy L Johnson
September 19, 2003, 12:49 AM
AndrewWalkowiak said
I still think they're just doing it to get Dayley's goat

And Mayor Richard Dayley will just remind you that 9 out of 10 dead registered voters(democrats, since republicans don't register dead voters) favor more gun control.

Guy L Johnson

DonP
September 19, 2003, 12:39 PM
He is on the Editorial Board of the Trib!

This isn't your average angry letter to the editor from me or one of the other Illinois "prisoners" that they occasionally print when we write back about some stupid new restrictive law Daley decided to have his sock puppet Blago pass.

This guy is on the Trib board. That's the part that surprises me. But then again they probably have to have at least one token gun guy in the closet, huh?

Don P.

tyme
September 19, 2003, 12:45 PM
Laws don't do much besides keep dumb people and a certain percentage of smart people who commit crimes behind bars, and the current justice system tends not to do even that very well. Deterrence is minimal, and usually just causes criminals to seek out targets that aren't [as] protected by whatever deterrents there are.

NukemJim
September 20, 2003, 07:36 AM
The advantage of these laws is that they give individuals the means to protect themselves from violence, if they feel the need. But those who expect anything better than that are probably doomed to disappointment. So are those who expect anything worse.

Sums up my view fairly well. Other factors ( # of males in the 17-34 age group, home enviorement, how well the laws are enforced, the probability of being punished for a crime etc...) are more relevant for reducing the crime rate.

Except when did we need a law to exercise our rights ?

"The 2nd ammendment is not about duck hunting" I agree wholeheartedly.
The 2nd ammenment is also not about reducing the crime rate.


The above is my opinoin only and as always could be wrong

NukemJim

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