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Do You Know How To Use A Gun To Protect Yourself From Crime?

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Even though I write for Huffington Post, I have to admit that The Guardian frequently carries writing about guns and gun violence which should be read.  In fact, for several years they ran a superb open-source compilation about police use of lethal force, which my friend Frank Zimring used for a very important book on cops and shootings which also should be read.

ccw             Now The Guardian has announced a new effort, Break the Cycle, a series designed “to change the way the media covers American gun violence – and to challenge the orthodoxy that gun reform is a hopeless pursuit.” To that end, the very first story covers what The Guardian calls “ten recent victories in gun violence prevention,” most of which are of too recent vintage to determine whether these new initiatives will make a difference or not. But even if the jury is still out on whether or not such programs and laws will reduce the violence suffered from guns, at least the fear that all gun-control activity will wither and die during the Age of Trump appears to be misplaced.

I’m beginning to consider the possibility, in fact, that the defeat of Hillary, who based much of her campaign narrative on gun-control themes, may actually turn out to be a more positive event for the gun violence prevention (GVP) movement than if she had won.  Her victories in the several swing states she needed to grab the necessary 270 electoral votes would not have turned the Congress from red to blue, and facing the same hostile Congressional lineup that blocked Obama after his first two years would probably would have doomed any substantial gun legislation from moving ahead. On the other hand, one can argue that absent a Republican in the Oval Office that some of the crazy, pro-gun bills like national concealed-carry, would also never see the light of day.

But sometimes adversity becomes the incubator for new and compelling ideas, and the policy brief issued this morning by The Johns Hopkins Center for Gun Policy and Research represents just such an effort to focus our attention on work which needs to be done. The report, Concealed Carry of Firearms; Facts Versus Fiction, covers the arguments used to justify national concealed-carry (CCW) reciprocity, and then gives a balanced and evidence-based analysis of each. The text begins with a summary of CCW laws currently in force throughout the 50 states: no CCW licensing requirements in 12 states, and a CCW license must be automatically granted in 30 other states if one meets the legal requirements for simply owning a gun. In 1986 there were 9 states that did not impose any CCW requirements if one passed a background check – now that number has climbed to 42.

I wouldn’t be so adamantly opposed to national CCW were it not for the fact that what this means is the current issuance of CCW in many states without any kind of training at all will now become an accepted norm in every state. Not that jurisdictions which require a pre-licensing gun course impose anything except the most slipshod and useless qualification process, and once you demonstrate that you actually know the difference between the stock and the barrel you never have to certify your ability again.

I’m not surprised when folks tell me that a gun will make protect them from crime, even if evidence-based research indicates otherwise. After all, emotions usually trump facts, even when we think we are using valid evidence to figure something out. But the continued drumbeat by Gun-nut Nation and the NRA to make people believe that using a gun for personal defense without continuous, qualification-based and mandated (i.e., required) training is just another attempt to appeal to the lowest mental denominator when it comes to talking about guns. The organization which was founded as a training organization in 1871 should be at the forefront of an effort to tell everyone how useless this national CCW legislation will be.

              I thank the Bloomberg gun-grabbers for this fine report.

 

 

How Many Americans Play The ‘Armed Citizen’ Game? Less Than You Think.

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You can tell when the NRA is cranking up the noise machine when they roll out John Lott and his Crime Prevention Research Center (which is John sitting at his kitchen table) announcing yet the latest example of what John grandiloquently refers to as his  ‘research.’ This time it’s the latest mumbo-jumbo about concealed-carry licenses and how they have been increasing by leaps and bounds as Americans finally come to their senses and realize that we should all be walking around carrying a gun. The headline from Lott is that 2016 saw the ‘largest increase ever in the number of permits,’ which the NRA is using to push the national-reciprocity concealed-carry (CCW) bill.

ccw             Now (read this paragraph carefully, please) I happen to be one of these guys who actually doesn’t believe that a national reciprocity CCW law would represent any great risk to community safety, but I also don’t believe it would make any one of us more protected if we were threatened by crime. I say this because notwithstanding the good work done by the Violence Policy Center on gun violence committed by CCW-holders, I don’t see any real connection between the 125,000 people who are killed or injured each year with guns and the fact that maybe a million or so Americans are actually walking around armed. I also haven’t heard any reports about CCW-holders going into another state which recognizes the CCW of their home state and behaving in a particularly gun-violent way.

No, my objection to CCW – locally, statewide, nationally – is based on one simple idea, namely, that you don’t give anyone the ability to walk around with a highly-lethal weapon who hasn’t demonstrated sufficient and continuous proficiency with that weapon, and the demonstration must be conducted in front of a mandated, government-appointed individual, and not just some half-baked ‘trainer’ who hangs out a digital shingle and claims to know something about guns. If the NRA would endorse mandated training, believe it or not, Mike the Gun Guy would shut up and go away. Now I know there are lots of you out there who would like me to shut up and go away anyway, so contact the NRA, tell them to stop pushing phony training programs and Mike the Gun Guy will say adios and goodbye.

Now back to my friend John Lott who claims that the latest number of Americans with CCW is 16.3 million, a 256% increase over the last ten years. The only problem with John’s number is that it’s basically created out of whole cloth, which is a polite way of saying that he’s made it up. And the reason he’s made it up is because when you take the trouble to read the fine print of his study, you discover that the numbers he uses to base his claim of an enormous upsurge in CCW don’t really say what he would like them to say.

It turns out that the 16.3 million CCW permits which Lott ‘estimates’ as being in circulation is, first of all, a number he has developed by dutifully checking the number of licenses issued each year; in fact he has absolutely no way of knowing how many CCW permits which have been issued over time have simply lapsed because the license-holder decided not to renew. Florida, for example, has issued 3,615,879 licenses since 1987, but says that 1,784,395 licenses are currently in use; John also counts nearly 2 million licenses issued by states for residents of other states, a money-making scam which inflates the actual number of CCW licenses on the books.

Lott cites the recent Pew survey which shows that roughly 10% of gun owners state they are walking around with a concealed gun. Which means that on any given day, maybe one million or so Americans are playing the ‘armed citizen’ game, a number that is far smaller than the tidal wave of gun carriers whose existence John Lott and Gun-nut Nation would like you to believe.

 

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