You can tell when the NRA is cranking up the noise machine when they roll out John Lott and his Crime Prevention Research Center (which is John sitting at his kitchen table) announcing yet the latest example of what John grandiloquently refers to as his ‘research.’ This time it’s the latest mumbo-jumbo about concealed-carry licenses and how they have been increasing by leaps and bounds as Americans finally come to their senses and realize that we should all be walking around carrying a gun. The headline from Lott is that 2016 saw the ‘largest increase ever in the number of permits,’ which the NRA is using to push the national-reciprocity concealed-carry (CCW) bill.
Now (read this paragraph carefully, please) I happen to be one of these guys who actually doesn’t believe that a national reciprocity CCW law would represent any great risk to community safety, but I also don’t believe it would make any one of us more protected if we were threatened by crime. I say this because notwithstanding the good work done by the Violence Policy Center on gun violence committed by CCW-holders, I don’t see any real connection between the 125,000 people who are killed or injured each year with guns and the fact that maybe a million or so Americans are actually walking around armed. I also haven’t heard any reports about CCW-holders going into another state which recognizes the CCW of their home state and behaving in a particularly gun-violent way.
No, my objection to CCW – locally, statewide, nationally – is based on one simple idea, namely, that you don’t give anyone the ability to walk around with a highly-lethal weapon who hasn’t demonstrated sufficient and continuous proficiency with that weapon, and the demonstration must be conducted in front of a mandated, government-appointed individual, and not just some half-baked ‘trainer’ who hangs out a digital shingle and claims to know something about guns. If the NRA would endorse mandated training, believe it or not, Mike the Gun Guy would shut up and go away. Now I know there are lots of you out there who would like me to shut up and go away anyway, so contact the NRA, tell them to stop pushing phony training programs and Mike the Gun Guy will say adios and goodbye.
Now back to my friend John Lott who claims that the latest number of Americans with CCW is 16.3 million, a 256% increase over the last ten years. The only problem with John’s number is that it’s basically created out of whole cloth, which is a polite way of saying that he’s made it up. And the reason he’s made it up is because when you take the trouble to read the fine print of his study, you discover that the numbers he uses to base his claim of an enormous upsurge in CCW don’t really say what he would like them to say.
It turns out that the 16.3 million CCW permits which Lott ‘estimates’ as being in circulation is, first of all, a number he has developed by dutifully checking the number of licenses issued each year; in fact he has absolutely no way of knowing how many CCW permits which have been issued over time have simply lapsed because the license-holder decided not to renew. Florida, for example, has issued 3,615,879 licenses since 1987, but says that 1,784,395 licenses are currently in use; John also counts nearly 2 million licenses issued by states for residents of other states, a money-making scam which inflates the actual number of CCW licenses on the books.
Lott cites the recent Pew survey which shows that roughly 10% of gun owners state they are walking around with a concealed gun. Which means that on any given day, maybe one million or so Americans are playing the ‘armed citizen’ game, a number that is far smaller than the tidal wave of gun carriers whose existence John Lott and Gun-nut Nation would like you to believe.