Everyone is aware of the NRA’s argument that the only thing that will stop a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun. They’ve been saying it for years, but they began screaming it out from the rooftops after Sandy Hook. And even though we seem to keep hearing about good guys who shoot other good guys, like the murder of Chad Oulson in a Florida movie theater by the ex-cop Curtis Reeves, such incidents are dismissed by the pro-gun crowd as aberrations or mistakes that should have no bearing on whether every good guy in America should be walking around with a gun.
But a group of ER and Trauma physicians have just released a report on the effect of a 2010 law in Arizona which basically made it a lot easier for all those good guys in the Grand Canyon State to walk around with a gun. Prior to 2010, gun ownership in Arizona did not involve state or local approval, and guns could be privately transferred without a background check. But carrying a concealed weapon in Arizona did require a police-issued permit, and part of the process also involved required proficiency training in how to use the gun.
The new law, SB-1108, was signed by Governor Brewer and went into effect in 2010. The law abolished the permit requirement for carrying a concealed weapon and also abolished the necessity to even prove that you knew anything about how to operate the gun. And since Arizonans are free to sell or transfer handguns privately without a background check, this means that virtually anyone regardless of their legal or proficiency background can join up with the good guys and carry a gun.
Talk about fulfilling the fondest wishes of the NRA. Finally people like John Lott, Gary Kleck and all the other NRA sycophants who have been telling us for twenty years that more guns equals less crime have an opportunity to prove that what they have been saying is really true. But there’s only one little problem. The research that was just published shows that the good guys with those guns haven’t been doing a very good job of protecting us from crime.
The researchers looked at gun injuries and deaths in Tucson over the four-year period between 2008 and 2012, in order to compare gun violence for the same time-period before and after SB-1108 was passed. And what they found was that “gun-related injuries and deaths increased in southern Arizona, mostly owing to an increase in gun-related homicides.” This information agrees with numerous studies over the years that correlate gun violence with the presence of guns, but those studies rely on data about gun ownership in general, not whether there exists a concordance between gun violence and guns that are being toted around concealed.
Now it turns out that the overall homicide rate went down in Tucson between 2010 and 2012, which seems to support the NRA’s position about the value of good guys having more guns. But there’s only one little problem: all the other categories of violent crime in Tucson went up and they didn’t go up by just a little bit. According to the FBI, the robbery rate went up 13%, aggravated assault increased 11%, and the overall violent crime rate in those two years also increased by 13%. Statewide, violent crime went up only 4%, but it sure didn’t go down.
So where are all those good guys with guns who can now walk around cities like Tucson and protect its citizens from any bad guy carrying a gun? Arizona is the first state that has removed virtually all legal and training requirements for people who want to protect themselves and others with a gun. So far it doesn’t look like the good guys are up to the task.