What Happens When People Walk Around With Guns? People Get killed.

This week the Colorado legislature showed itself to still have enough members with brains to beat back the annual brain-dead attempt to ‘restore’ gun ‘rights’ to the good citizens of the Centennial State. The Colorado GVP community shot them all down. You may recall that in 2014 Colorado expanded background checks to cover private transactions, and while the pro-gun strategy this year did not include an attempt to repeal the background check law, it did include Gun Nation’s favorite gun-rights ploy; i.e., permitless concealed-carry, including on school grounds.

ccwSpeaking of the joys and virtues of concealed carry, our friends at the Violence Policy Center have just updated their website which contains data on gun fatalities committed by CCW-holders, with the number now standing at 863 non-defensive deaths since 2007.  Since there is no official count for how many of the 31,000+ gun deaths each year occur thanks to someone using a gun that was being legally carried around for self-defense, we have to assume that the VPC number is far below the real number, but that’s not the point.

The point is that I have been listening to this crap about the millions of times each year that legal CCW-holders use their guns to prevent crimes, and if this is really true, then what’s the difference if a few hundred or even a few thousand people kill themselves or kill someone else with their concealed-carry guns?  One of the brain-dead legislators in Colorado explained why state residents should be able to bring permitless concealed-carry guns into schools in the following way: “I, for one, am tired of sending my daughters to school on blind faith that they will return home from a place where people are prevented by state law from equipping themselves to protect my daughters.”  Okay, so this friggin’ dope can go lay brick.

But to give the all dopes their due, I decided to look into the situation a little further by trying to figure out whether, in fact, all these people walking round with a concealed gun are making our communities more safe.  And what better place to examine the situation than in Florida because, after all, the whole concealed-carry movement first erupted in the Gunshine State.  And according to the Florida Department of Agriculture, which issues CCW, there are now 1.5 million active concealed licenses, so Florida must be a pretty safe place, right?

Wrong.  Let me give you a few numbers.  In 2011, the metropolitan area with the highest violent crime rate in the entire United States wasn’t Chicago, wasn’t Philadelphia, it was Miami, Fort Lauderdale and Pompano Beach.  In 2014, that wonderful family vacation spot known as Orlando had a higher violent crime rate than Chicago or New York. I could go on like this but the truth is that the massive armed citizenry in Florida hasn’t been worth a damn when it comes to keeping the good citizens of that state free from crime.

But let’s drill down a little further and look specifically at the issue of how CCW guns are actually used for or against the commission of crimes.  According to the VPC, there have been at least 21 Floridians killed by CCW-holders since 2013, an average of 7 each year.  On the other hand, justifiable homicides, have averaged roughly 23 per year in Florida since ‘Stand Your Ground’ was passed in 2005.  But while gun homicides have increased since SYG, no other violent crime category showed any real change at all.

Now wait a minute.  I thought the whole point of concealed-carry is to make communities safe.  So how come in Florida of all places the number of people getting legally killed with guns keeps going up but the crime rate doesn’t go down?   Here’s the bottom line and you don’t have to be a rocket scientist to understand what it means.  Know what happens when more people walk around with guns?  More people get killed.  Gee, that was hard to figure out.

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PBS’ Gunned Down: My Review

 

As an NRA Life Member, I get emails from all the pro-gun organizations and the last several days my Inbox had plenty of communications about the PBS documentary which aired last night. As you can also probably imagine, the warnings from the pro-gun crowd ran from dire to much worse.  I should add that in this case I was also contacted by PBS who asked me to preview the show which I did, and here’s what I saw.

My gun friends who subscribe to the Charlton Heston battle-cry “from my cold, dead hands” had nothing to fear. The documentary is an extremely balanced view of the NRA’s defeat of the federal gun bills in 1999 and again in 2013. Some of the program’s newsreel footage is not for the faint of heart, particularly films from Columbine High School, the shooting of Gabby Giffords and the slaughter at Sandy Hook.  There is also some candid commentary from pro-gun advocates like Larry Pratt and an emotion-laden “How could they vote that way?” complaint from Vice President Joe.  None of the current NRA leadership would agree to be interviewed but they really had nothing to fear since the film covers the rise and current stance of Wayne LaPierre and his team in a balanced and honest way.

heston                The program follows the transformation of the NRA from an organization devoted to hunting and sport shooting to one focused primarily on beating back gun control efforts in Washington, D.C.  This changed with the emergence of Wayne LaPierre and a coterie of hard-core, conservative board members who then found themselves on the losing end of legislative battles in 1993-94 (Brady bill and assault weapons ban) but would never again wind up on the short end.  Gunned Down does not really explain how this shift in direction and message suddenly became (and still remains) so successful, given that the geography (Southern) and demographics (blue-collar White males) of the membership has not substantially changed.

One of the key moments in the NRA’s rise to lobbying power, according to Gunned Down, was the NRA’s allegedly decisive role in the 2000 electoral victory of George W. Bush.  The narrative is based primarily on post-election statements by Clinton who said that Gore lost because of NRA voters in Ohio, Arkansas and Gore’s home state of Tennessee.  But Tennessee, like most of the South, was gradually shifting blue to red well before the 2000 election, with Clinton-Gore receiving a smaller percentage of the total vote in 1996 than in 1992.  What probably swung Ohio into the 2000 Bush column was the increased activity of Evangelicals, who would then play a decisive role in Bush’s re-election in 2004.  Given the fact that two-thirds of the NRA membership live in Southern and border states, it shouldn’t surprise that NRA-backed candidates are strong south of the Mason-Dixon line.  On the other hand, the NRA mounted a big push last year to toss out Connecticut’s incumbent Governor, Dannel Malloy, but the fact that Malloy rammed through a major rewrite of the state’s gun law after Sandy Hook didn’t hurt him one bit.

Given its time-frame, the PBS documentary does not cover a tectonic shift in the gun-control landscape that has occurred over the past 18 months. I am referring to energetic and sustained grass-roots efforts by groups like Everytown and Colorado Ceasefire, the latter playing a formative role in the expansion of Colorado background checks in 2013.  Everytown now claims more than 2.5 million supporters, not bad for an organization that started operating the day after Sandy Hook.  The NRA makes headlines when the focus is on Washington, D.C., but they have never garnered the kind of media attention that Shannon Watts and her group received when they got Target to ask its customers not to bring guns into their stores.

It won’t be easy for the gun lobby to paint this production as just another example of how the liberal media scorns the value of guns. But the media may soon realize that what was once a good story may now need a different end.