I started my previous blog with a promise to debunk some of the myths created by the NRA and its cronies to ward off the evils of gun control. So let’s continue by looking at one of the biggest myths of all, namely, the idea that we can all be better protected against crime if we all own and carry guns. The idea of the “armed citizen” as being our first and most important defense against crime and criminals has been promoted endlessly and tirelessly by the NRA and is repeated verbatim by all of their allies and cronies.
One of the major cronies is a sometime academic named John R. Mott who floats around the right-wing talk circus promoting a book called More Guns Less Crime. Although his data has been criticized for either not supporting what he says or not existing at all, I’m going to ignore the slings and arrows being thrown back and forth between him and his critics and just look at the underlying assumptions about the argument itself.
Lott begins by making the argument that there’s a trade-off between the safety of a locked gun versus the usefulness of a gun that is loaded and ready to fire. He states: “gun locks require that guns be unloaded, and a locked, unloaded gun does not offer ready protection from intruders.” (Page 10.) Did he really say that? Has he ever even held a gun? If John Lott would like, he can walk into my gun shop, we will go downstairs to the range, I’ll put a Masterlock on a loaded gun and then I’ll take the lock off the gun and John can pull the trigger. There will be a very loud noise and he better have the gun pointed in a safe direction.
But let’s continue and here’s the bottom line. There has yet to be a single study by any pro-gun NRA crony like Lott who has been able to establish a definitive link between ownership of guns and crime rates. Notice I didn’t say between more guns and less crime, or less guns and more crime. I said a ‘definitive’ link as in cause-and-effect link. Coincidence? Plenty. Causality? None.
Let’s go back to the recent DOJ report that showed a “continued” decline in gun homicides over the last twenty years. This is the report that was lauded by the NRA and its mouthpieces like Lott as “proving” that more guns meant less crime. And what was their proof? The fact that in 1990 there were only a handful of states that issued concealed-carry permits and now more than 30 states were granting concealed-carry on a “shall-issue” basis.
Except there are some small problems. First, as I pointed out in a post published on May 13 (“Can’t Anyone in the Gun Industry Read?”) the decline in gun homicides occurred between 1994 and 2000, well before most states liberalized their concealed-carry rules. And more to the point, while some states like California and New York saw a significant decline in gun violence during this six-year period, other states, like Texas and Arizona, experienced increased gun homicides. Why? Nobody knows why. And nobody has yet to ask why.
Then there’s another sticky little problem for people who John Lott who take a coincidence and turn it into an explanation. The fact that someone walks around with a concealed-carry permit doesn’t mean they walk around with a concealed gun. Know what? I haven’t seen anyone who has said that statement anywhere. In my state, Massachusetts, for example, you cannot buy or own a gun unless you have a permit issued by the state. The permit is called the LTC which, if you haven’t guessed it yet, means License To Carry. That’s right. The same license that is required to buy or own a gun is the same license that allows you to carry a concealed handgun on your person. Does that mean that everyone in Massachusetts who has a gun license is packing? Nobody knows.
But I’ll let you in on a little secret. I’m willing to bet you that the same guy who thinks you can’t put a lock on a loaded gun also believes that residents of Massachusetts are better protected from criminals because they have a License To Carry, whether they even own a gun or not. That’s what happens when you do research not to discover the truth, but to promote a pre-ordained idea. Oh well…