Guns, fear, loathing and public policy
F. Paul Valone
The following column was published in The Charlotte Observer on
"Think about it: Fist fights at football games ending in gunfire. An ugly look on the street and somebody winding up shot dead. Wackos transforming themselves into human arsenals. And all with the blessing of the
Guns and murders and death, oh my. Given dire predictions for North Carolina's concealed handgun law by dozens of columns like the one above and given the law has been on the books for sixteen months, I am compelled to ask, "So, where's the mayhem?"
By early March,
In fact, only 25 permits have been revoked at all, largely for reasons like falsifying information on the application, driving while intoxicated, or committing offenses which would be grounds for denying the permit. (While one permit was revoked because the permit holder died, death is not grounds for revocation. He should appeal). In
No stoplight massacres, no "vigilantes looking for criminals to shoot" (or at least none who've found any).
But what of benefits? A survey of sheriffs by the Governor's Crime Commission found four permit holders who prevented crimes without shooting a single suspect. But the report suggests underestimation, noting "seldom do people report when they think their possession of a handgun permit has deterred a criminal."
Meanwhile, the latest figures for
Yes, I know that
Giving an ironic twist to the "if it will save just one life" argument favored by gun control forces, Lott and Mustard concluded, "If those states which did not have ... concealed gun provisions had adopted them in 1992, approximately 1,570 murders; 4,177 rapes; and over 60,000 aggravated assaults would have been avoided yearly. On the other hand, consistent with the notion of criminals responding to incentives, we find criminals substituting ... property crimes involving stealth ... where the probabilities of contact between the criminal and victim are minimal." Imagine that.
Lest any truth go unchallenged, however, the usual champions of intellectual dishonesty - Congressman Charles Schumer and the Center to Prevent Handgun Violence - claimed the study was funded by arms manufacturer Olin Corp. (it wasn't), that the methodology was flawed (wishful thinking) and that Lott is a gun advocate (sorry guys, he's just an open-minded professor of comparative law). Lott's most vocal critic is Stephen Teret, a professor who, when discovered passing his own anti-gun advocacy as "research," responded with an article titled, aptly enough, "So What?"
In a rational world, the success of concealed handgun laws would come as no surprise. Our results parallel those of
The lesson of the concealed handgun debate is that effective public policy is based not on visions of body bags, but on good, hard facts. Keep that in mind when some politician, in the emotional aftermath of the next grisly act of terror, begins describing which freedoms you "may no longer be able to afford."