What would be the result if the national concealed-carry bill being considered by the Senate actually passed and was signed into law? According to the pro-gun gang, this law will allow every American to use a gun for self-defense no matter where he or she goes. The gun-control gang, on the other hand (I’m trying to be as even-handed as possible but don’t expect me to keep it up) says that such a law will unleash a wave of untrained people carrying guns from states that require little or no pre-licensing training to states which require some kind of safety certification before someone can walk around with a gun. Let’s start with the pro-gun argument first.
By now everyone is aware of the ‘fact’ that people with guns prevent millions of crimes from being committed each year. This argument first burst out of the brain of Gary Kleck in the early 90’s, and continues to pop up on various sites here and there. Although Kleck doesn’t necessarily go along any more with his own nonsense, the idea that more guns equal less crime is a gun-nut refrain which floats around about as frequently as the idea that Trump and the Russians had nothing to do with each other during the 2016 Presidential campaign. Last month, according to John Lott, armed citizens prevented a whole, big 22 criminal attacks from taking place, which is a whole, big nothing.
Unfortunately, the reverse argument used to support the idea that concealed-carry laws (CCW) will lead to more crime, isn’t a study of CCW at all. It’s a critique of how Lott analyzed data in his book, More Guns, Less Crime, which isn’t a study of the impact of CCW, no matter what his critics say. The fact that a particular jurisdiction makes it easier to receive a CCW license, or abolishes the CCW licensing process altogether, doesn’t mean that more people are necessarily walking around with guns. And it certainly doesn’t mean they are walking around in neighborhoods where most crime actually occurs.
My friend John Lott has taken it upon himself to track the increase in CCW licenses issued over the last few years, but even he admits that “the main focus from a crime prevention point of view should be whether people actually do carry guns.” Unfortunatrly, neither he nor anyone else can provide data which confirms that more CCW means more people are actually walking around armed. The Pew gun survey found that 40% of gun owners kept a gun within ‘easy reach,’ but only 10% carried one around all the time.
What seems to provoke the greatest degree of concern among advocates opposed to national CCW reciprocity is that someone living in a state which requires little or no training will be able to take a weapon into another state where training is mandated, thus creating a safety risk that would not exist if issuing authorities continued to set the requirements for CCW within their own state. Last year some of our public health research friends published a survey of gun training, noting that only 60% of gun owners underwent training of any kind, findings that were turned around and immediately ballyhooed by the GVP media, proclaiming that 4 out of 10 self-defense handgun owners received no training at all.
What nobody in either the research team or the GVP media bothered to point out is that the so-called training received by a majority of CCW-holders is about as effective in preparing them to actually use a gun in self-defense as a driving course prepares someone to pilot a rocket module to the moon. The good news is that less than 1% of victims of violent crime actually use a gun in self-defense; the point being that the entire argument over national CCW has little to do with either gun violence or violent crime. A debate about guns not based on reality? No, I don’t believe it. Can’t be true.