Do More Concealed Guns Mean More Gun Violence?


            Back in June, there was a big ta-ra-rum when the Supreme Court decided that New York’s law covering the process for being able to carry a gun outside the home was a violation of 2nd-Amendment ‘rights.’ New York was one of the last seven states which gave law enforcement agencies a ‘may issue’ control over concealed-carry (CCW) licenses, with the other 43 states having moved to a ‘shall issue’ procedure, meaning that if you can pass a background check, you can wander around the neighborhood with a concealed gun.

            I knew that the moment the Court told New York to change its CCW law, that I would receive a daily appeal from the various gun-control organizations beseeching me to send them more funds so they could fight against this alarming expansion of armed-camp America, which is exactly what all the gun-control groups did.

            Incidentally, I give both Brady and Everytown a hundred bucks every month, I’ve been doing it for years. I figure if I’m going to donate a chunk every year to my NRA Endowment fund, the least I can do is give some bucks to the other side too.

            I also assumed after the Court’s decision that sooner or later one of the gun-control research groups would publish an ‘evidence-based’ article that would find some kind of connection between the shift from ‘may issue’ to ‘shall issue’ CCW laws and an increase in gun violence because Gun-control Nation has been making this argument ever since CCW laws began to shift from ‘may’ to ‘shall.’

            And now, thanks to  research conducted by the Johns Hopkins gun research group, this argument appears to be validated by a new study which compares gun violence rates before and after ‘shall issue’ laws went into effect. Unfortunately, I have to work off of the abstract of the article because I have now sent $39 not once but twice to the American Journal of Epidemiology and after the website processes my payment and pulls the money out of my bank account, I get back squat.

            Anyway, what the researchers claim to have found is that “Shall-Issue CCW law adoption was associated with a 9.5% increase in rates of assaults with firearms during the first 10-years post-law adoption and associated with an 8.8% increase in rates of homicides by other means.” If I ever get the website to work, I’ll read the details and perhaps amend what I am going to say now which is how do we know how many of those increased gun assaults were committed by individuals who had the legal right to walk around with a gun?

            We don’t. And I’m sorry but regression analysis may be a good tool for comparing the movement of one trend to another trend, but it’s simply not a scientific or evidence-based method for explaining cause and effect.

            The problem with virtually all the research on gun violence done by the Hopkins public health group and other research groups is that they use all kinds of data from the CDC which gives fairly good estimates on the demographics of the victims of gun violence but tells us next to nothing about how and why the perpetrators do what they did.

            You can’t interview the perpetrators of self-inflicted gun assaults – they’re dead. And you can’t interview the perpetrators of homicides or aggravated assaults because first of all, you can’t find half of them, and the ones you can find are locked behind bars and can’t or won’t talk.

            Here’s what we know about the men (and it’s almost always men) who use a gun to try and kill someone else: they usually begin demonstrating violent and anti-social behavior in their teens. We have known this since my late, dear friend Marvin Wolfgang followed the lives of violent criminals and published his definitive research fifty years ago.

            Now that the CDC has lifted the moratorium on gun research, I would like to see them spend some of my tax money on trying to figure out how to identify, isolate and treat what Wolfgang referred to as ‘serial delinquents’ before their delinquent behavior results in putting their hands on a gun.

            What is the CDC doing with my tax money right now? They are paying a researcher who has absolutely no gun experience to go around to 4-H clubs and talk to the little, White kiddies about how they should use their 22-caliber, single-shot, bolt-action rifles in a safe way. That research is going to give us any insight at all to help prevent adolescents and young, male adults from walking down the street with a Beretta, a Sig, or a Glock?

            Of course, if we were to focus our attention on the individuals who commit more than 100,000 aggravated assaults and homicides every year with a gun, we would end up where polite, well-meaning liberals never want to end up, which would be having to talk about race. And that’s an issue which Gun-control Nation avoids like the plague.

            This country still bears the stain and the shame of having brought millions of human beings over here, declaring them to be chattel property and then declaring them to be human beings in 1865. That’s only 150 years ago, so why should I be surprised if we still haven’t figured out how to address racial issues in a proper, objective, and honest way?

            The truth is that legal gun owners, in the main, happen to be about the most law-abiding people you’ll ever want to meet. And the individuals who commit gun violence against other individuals are for the most part people who couldn’t care less about what the gun laws say.

            I am shortly going to launch a website which will provide a basic informational roadmap to anyone who is thinking about buying or carrying a self-defense gun. The website will also let visitors get their hands on a little manual that will show them how a daily, 15-minute exercise without a gun can help them develop and maintain the muscle memory they need in order to use a self-defense gun in a proper and effective way.

            The reason I am putting up this website is that it’s time for both sides in the gun debate to acknowledge a very basic fact, which is that neither side currently approaches gun violence in a positive or constructive way.

            Gun-nut Nation believes that its members should be able to walk around with a gun designed only for the purpose of ending human life without being required to spend even five minutes learning how such a lethal product even works. Gun-control Nation, on the other hand, believes that we can end gun violence by somehow making guns ‘safe’ and passing more laws to that effect.

            I have been in the gun business one way or another for more than sixty years and what I have known and experienced in the gun business can be summed up like this: Other than sworn officers, nobody needs a gun for anything at all. Anyone who thinks otherwise, to quote Grandpa, is just a ‘meshugana chaya’ (read: damn fool.)

            But precisely because the only individuals who feel they need a gun happen to be individuals who shouldn’t ever be able to get their hands on a gun, we better stop worrying about everyone walking around with a gun because they think that might just wind up at the OK Corral or Miss Kitty’s Long Branch Saloon.

Will It Make Any Difference If Everyone’s Walking Around With A Gun?

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              Oh my Goddd.  That conservative Supreme Court is going to flip the 2nd Amendment on its head and turn America into an armed camp. And now gun violence will go through the roof because everyone’s going to be walking around with a gun!

              I’m getting what Grandpa would call this kind of geshry (read: yell) from every gun-control group along with a desperate demand for funds. This is because the Supreme Court has decided to take up the New York law which basically gives cops a free hand to decide who should and should not be able to walk around with a gun.

              This practice is referred to as ‘may issue,’ whereby the cops or some other designated agency can determine whether someone can walk around with a concealed weapon based on a documented concern of being attacked or otherwise being the victim of a violent crime. There are now only seven ‘may issue’ states, including California and New York.

              The other 43 states are either ‘shall issue’ states where anyone can receive a carry permit (CCW) without having a specific cause, or ‘Constitutional carry’ where no special license to walk around armed is required at all.

              Until the mid-80’s, states which allowed residents to walk around with a concealed weapon were few and far between. In fact, as late as 1886, there were 41 states which either didn’t grant any kind of concealed-carry license or only approved such licenses on a very strict and arbitrary basis, which usually meant you were good friends with the local chief.

              One of the ways that America is a unique country is the propensity of Americans to pick up a loaded gun, point it at someone else and go – blam! The United States happens to lead the entire advanced world in this type of behavior both in the number of people who get shot, as well as the rate of this type of violence which occurs every year. According to our friend David Hemenway, the odds of someone getting killed by being attacked by someone else with a gun is 7 to 20 times higher here than in any other high-income (OECD) nation-state.

              I have no issue with David’s calculations which places American gun violence rates at the top of the OECD list. I do have an issue, however, with the argument which attempts to explain this level of violence or at least connect this violence to all the people walking around with guns, or at least people walking around with legally-owned guns, which is what the whole noise being made about the Supreme Court taking a gun case is all about.

              Let me break it to my Gun-control Nation friends as gently as I can. When there were only 8 states which granted any kind of concealed-carry licenses for any reason whatsoever, the gun-homicide rate was 5.05.  In 2019, when the residents of 40 states could walk around with a gun in their pocket, the national gun-homicide rate was 4.39.  In other words, if we use gun-homicide numbers to figure out how violent we really are, the numbers clearly indicate that more concealed-carry licensing leads to more peace.

              This raises an interesting question, namely, what will be the impact on gun-violence rates if the Supremes throw out the New York gun law and the other ‘may issue’ states like California and New Jersey get into line?  Given the fact that the ‘may issue’ states together contain 25% of the national population, couldn’t universal ‘shall issue’ CCW law result in gun violence going down even more?

              Which is exactly what Gun-nut Nation has been saying for years. Except there’s only one problem with this argument as well. Let’s not forget that the Supremes are going to be looking at laws which regulate who can and cannot carry guns. And since when did the people who commit 15,000 homicides and at least another 75,000 non-fatal gun assaults each year give one rat’s damn about laws?

              Our good friend Philip Cook once interviewed 99 prison inmates and found that few of them got their guns through legal means. Gee, what a surprise. The point is that whether law-abiding gun owners can walk around the neighborhood with a gun just because they want to walk around with a gun, may or may not have any connection to the number of guys who use a gun to commit a crime, in particular the crime we refer to as homicide, which is what gun violence is really all about.

              I think the issue of gun laws versus gun violence is beside the point. To me, the real issue is whether anyone, whether a good guy or a bad guy, should have access to guns which can only be used to commit gun violence because in case you didn’t know it, the definition of violence according to the World Health Organization is any conscious attempt to injure yourself or someone else.

              If I believe you are coming towards me to commit an assault, and I pull out my Glock and drill you right through the head so that your assault against me doesn’t take place, aren’t I consciously trying to injure you? Damn right I am, which is why I carry a Glock, and not some 22-caliber target gun.

              On the other hand, like most Americans who are issued a concealed-carry license, I happen to live in a town where the only people who walk towards me at night are actually on their way to the Starbucks across the street.

              As far as I’m concerned, the whole concealed-carry issue is nothing more than a society-wide case of arrested mental development, and if this is the only thing that the Supreme Court has to worry about, as Grandpa would say, ‘a be gezunt’ (read: who cares?)