Concealed guns not the answer to violent crime - The Daily Illini : Editorials

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Concealed guns not the answer to violent crime

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Posted: Monday, November 12, 2012 8:51 pm

Illinois is the only state in the country that does not have a concealed carry law. We think it should stay that way.

Ten mostly rural Illinois counties voted to support a concealed carry provision last Tuesday, pushing the issue to the forefront and adding pressure to the state government to join the rest of the country in allowing concealed handguns to be carried into public spaces. But the arguments behind concealed carry are couched in emotion, ideology and correlative statistics; allowing individuals to carry hidden guns is simply not a defensible solution to crime and violence.

The federal government already allows for citizens to possess and own guns, and that right is enshrined in the Constitution, not to mention on the state level. We have no issue with the right to bear arms. However, we don’t think allowing concealed guns into public places is, or should be, part of this right.

The arguments for concealed carry are compelling at first glance. Essentially, supporters claim that because violent criminals already have concealed weapons, preventing a legal avenue for concealed carry only harms law-abiding citizens or potential victims.

A form of this argument arose this summer after the deadly shooting at an Aurora, Colo., movie theater last summer. Shortly after the tragedy, Slate’s David Weigel quoted Greg Brock, a California firearms safety expert, who said: “All you need is one person there with a gun .... If this went down in Texas or Arizona, (James Holmes) would have died quick.”

Similarly, after the shooting of Arizona Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, Wayne LaPierre of the National Rifle Association said during a speech that “the best way to stop a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun.” LaPierre then claimed that there is an across-the-board reduction in violent crime in jurisdictions with right to carry laws compared to those that do not.

There are a number of issues with this argument. First of all, most individuals when confronted with danger are not likely to take measured and calm action. With the presence of bystanders, the possibility of innocent, civilian death goes up tremendously. But even more strongly, the numbers just don’t back up the claim that a right to carry a concealed weapon reduces violent crime.

Fact-checking website Politifact also took issue LaPierre’s claim of a connection between right-to-carry and lower violent crime and rated his statement as “false” for its contention that data supports an “across-the-board” reduction.

The hard truth is that these arguments are not verifiable. In a 2005 study, The National Academies of Sciences concluded that “with the current evidence it is not possible to determine that there is a causal link between the passage of right-to-carry laws and crime rates.” Even more troubling, after analyzing the data the authors found that even the term “self-defense” is unclear in this context, writing, “We do not know accurately how often armed self-defense occurs or even how to precisely define self-defense.”

In the end, concealed carry is a reality in most of the country, and a recent report from the Government Accountability Office puts the number of individuals with conceal carry licenses at 8 million. But we think this measure will not alleviate the problem of violent crime and that this issue has more to do with an ideological position on the Second Amendment than a legitimate solution to violent crime.

We realize that the argument for right-to-carry concealed weapons makes intuitive sense: If the bad guys already have guns and will use them, why can’t we possess them in kind? But if we don’t truly understand how guns impact violent crime, and if supporters of the measure have only correlations to stand on, then there is little to suggest the utility of such a law.

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Welcome to the discussion.


  • dirk diggler posted at 1:40 am on Mon, Dec 17, 2012.

    dirk diggler Posts: 1

    FBI Statistical Conclusions: 87.3% of very serious rape, robbery and assault during this ten year period had NOTHING whatsoever to do with firearms. If there were NO FIREARMS available to criminals, common sense tells us that most of the 12.7% that does involve firearms would shift over to knives or other non-firearm weapons with no real change in the number of victims. Common sense and real world experience also tells us that if criminals never had to worry about their intended victims being armed because of firearms bans, the rates of rape, robbery and assault would be much higher, as they are in gun-ban cities.

  • BRHolgersen posted at 5:32 am on Sun, Nov 25, 2012.

    BRHolgersen Posts: 1

    This will take a little bit of imagination and open minded thinking, but if you bear with me I think it will be enlightening to some people who have a misconception about the world.

    Imagine that tomorrow everything in the world that ever was used as weapon, ever will be used as a weapon or ever could be used as a weapon disappeared off the face of the planet. Basically no one would have any tools that could be used as a weapon. No rocks, scissors, knives, books, bricks, bats, sticks, brass knuckles, guns, nuclear weapons, or anything. If you can think of using it as a weapon it wouldn't exist. It would be a world where we had only our bodies as a tool.

    Now if you can successfully picture that in your head than the whole world basically becomes a giant elementary school playground with no teachers where size is all that matters.

    Now can you really truly honestly say that you would want to live in a world where the big kid down the block can take all your toys, beat you up, steal your girl friend, steal your bike and basically do anything he wants to you because he or she is bigger than you?

    Now those are some kid examples. Let's try some adult examples in a world where there is no means of self defense besides the adequacy or inadequacy of your body. The 300 pound monster who lives down the street who can bench 600 pounds comes around. What do you think he or she (I don't discriminate) is going to do to you? Let's see if I can name a few things: kill you, kill your family, rape your wife, rape your husband, rape your children, kill your children, steal your food, evict you from your living space, kill your parents, kill your friends, etc. The point is they will be able to do whatever they want and no one will be able to stop them until they become too old and feeble or get sick and then someone else will come along and bash their brains in just to turn around and do some more terrible things to you.

    So what I'm saying is that everyone should be very happy that they live in a world, and are member of species, that has figured out how to use intelligence and technology to trump heredity.

    So the next time you start trying to tell everyone that guns are evil and don't do any good than you should remember that police officers and the military don't carry guns for decoration. They have guns so they can protect you from people that want to hurt you, and the reason civilians carry guns is because they want to protect themselves against people who might want to hurt them.

    So please stop acting like the world would be a fairy tale land without weapons of any kind, because I assure you it would be the exact opposite and unless you're that 300 pound monster who can bench 600 pounds you should be thankful that you live in a country where you can at least move to a place where you can buy and carry a gun to defend yourself.

    You might call me paranoid, but I'd rather have the option to carry a gun than hope that I just so happen to win the genetic lottery and I'm Chuck Norris, Bruce Lee and Hercules all rolled up in one package with some incredible hulk seasoning sprinkled on top for good measure, so I can protect my life from anything that comes my way and still be home in time for dinner.

    I might be paranoid, but at least I'm not delusional.

    So again just for reinforcement. For the love of Pete, stop acting like you live in a dream world where the only problems we have in our society are derived from weapons, because I assure, we would be a whole lot worse off without them.

  • harleyrider1777 posted at 8:49 am on Sat, Nov 17, 2012.

    harleyrider1777 Posts: 11

    Mark Twain said it right over a hundred years ago:

    “The Moral Statistician.”
    Originally published in Sketches, Old and New, 1893

    "I don’t want any of your statistics; I took your whole batch and lit my pipe with it.

    I hate your kind of people. You are always ciphering out how much a man’s health is injured, and how much his intellect is impaired, and how many pitiful dollars and cents he wastes in the course of ninety-two years’ indulgence in the fatal practice of smoking; and in the equally fatal practice of drinking coffee; and in playing billiards occasionally; and in taking a glass of wine at dinner, etc. etc. And you are always figuring out how many women have been burned to death because of the dangerous fashion of wearing expansive hoops, etc. etc. You never see more than one side of the question.

    You are blind to the fact that most old men in America smoke and drink coffee, although, according to your theory, they ought to have died young; and that hearty old Englishmen drink wine and survive it, and portly old Dutchmen both drink and smoke freely, and yet grow older and fatter all the time. And you never try to find out how much solid comfort, relaxation, and enjoyment a man derives from smoking in the course of a lifetime (which is worth ten times the money he would save by letting it alone), nor the appalling aggregate of happiness lost in a lifetime by your kind of people from not smoking. Of course you can save money by denying yourself all those little vicious enjoyments for fifty years; but then what can you do with it? What use can you put it to? Money can’t save your infinitesimal soul. All the use that money can be put to is to purchase comfort and enjoyment in this life; therefore, as you are an enemy to comfort and enjoyment where is the use of accumulating cash?

    It won’t do for you to say that you can use it to better purpose in furnishing a good table, and in charities, and in supporting tract societies, because you know yourself that you people who have no petty vices are never known to give away a cent, and that you stint yourselves so in the matter of food that you are always feeble and hungry. And you never dare to laugh in the daytime for fear some poor wretch, seeing you in a good humor, will try to borrow a dollar of you; and in church you are always down on your knees, with your ears buried in the cushion, when the contribution-box comes around; and you never give the revenue officers a full statement of your income.

    Now you know all these things yourself, don’t you? Very well, then, what is the use of your stringing out your miserable lives to a lean and withered old age? What is the use of your saving money that is so utterly worthless to you? In a word, why don’t you go off somewhere and die, and not be always trying to seduce people into becoming as ornery and unlovable as you are yourselves, by your villainous “moral statistics”?"

    Also, Benjamin Franklin said,
    "Those who would give up essential Liberty, to purchase a little temporary Safety, deserve neither Liberty nor Safety."

  • hammerheadfl posted at 7:34 pm on Thu, Nov 15, 2012.

    hammerheadfl Posts: 6

    If you have any questions regarding the CWP law or training contact or 1-866-371-6111 and the Instructors at Equip 2 Conceal will be happy to help you.

  • RLEmery posted at 8:15 am on Thu, Nov 15, 2012.

    RLEmery Posts: 5

    Wet behind the ears college students are too emotional and immature to have any accurate or correct thoughts, much less an idea about the real world. After all, their academic masters recognize this inability by their refusal to allow said students the ability to exercise their rights in such a party, drinking, and drug infused brain washing environment where rights and free speech are not honored or respected.

    Hence any opine by a college student is irrelevant fantasy at best, patholoigcal lie at the worst.

  • Doug Huffman posted at 4:07 am on Thu, Nov 15, 2012.

    Doug Huffman Posts: 1

    "Correlative statistics," what are those? Neither correlation nor statistics are cause.

    The common law elements of self-defense are four; be innocent of instigation, use sufficient force only to deliver oneself from evil, be in reasonable fear of bodily harm, and attempt to withdraw.

    Good people ought to be armed as they will, with wits and Guns and the Truth.

  • BambiB posted at 2:23 am on Thu, Nov 15, 2012.

    BambiB Posts: 1

    By all means... keep people in Illinois disarmed!

    While it's true we cannot pin down the precise number of times firearms are used in lawful self-defense each year, we DO know the number is between 2.5 and 4 million. Without guns, you might well add half that many more successfully committed crimes, because each successful self-defense is a crime that was STOPPED.

    As for guns in private hands - the cops are SIX TIMES more likely to shoot the WRONG person at the scene of a crime than is an armed citizen, so in most cases, I'm much more comfortable with the armed citizen. Besides, concealed carry permit holders are less likely to commit serious crimes (felonies) than are the legislators who pass the laws or the police who enforce them. And remember, when seconds count, the cops are only minutes away.

    On the scene when they're needed, less likely to shoot the wrong person, less likely to commit serious crimes than the cops? What's not to like about THAT situation?

    But maybe the Illinois approach is better!? Chicago is a perennial contender for the title of "Murder Capital of America", and a past winner of that title in 1998, 2001, and 2003. This year, as of the end of October, Chicago had recorded 435 murders - as many as in all of 2011. With two months to go in the year, 2012 will set another record showing just how pathetic American society CAN be when citizens are not allowed to defend themselves.

    And that may be the highest purpose of Illinois... to serve as a bad example... to do it WRONG. It's very important to have an example of failure. Without losers, how do you know who are the winners? So thank you, Illinois, for showing the rest of the Country what NOT to do. Keep up the good work![beam]

  • Critter posted at 10:28 pm on Tue, Nov 13, 2012.

    Critter Posts: 1

    If you could guarantee my safety at all times and places I might consider your argument. Since you cannot, and since the police have no constitutional duty to protect me (see Warren v. District of Columbia [444 A.2d. 1, D.C. Ct. of Ap. 1981] and Castle Rock v. Gonzales [ 545 U.S. 748]), I think I'll pass on your addlepated excuse for an editorial opinion.

  • eggyknap posted at 3:28 pm on Tue, Nov 13, 2012.

    eggyknap Posts: 1

    "Concealed guns not the answer to violent crime", yet you offer no evidence at all, except to say that there's no evidence the opposite is true. You "have no issue with the right to bear arms," except, apparently, when it comes to actually bearing them. You admit no one knows how often personal, concealed firearms are used in legitimate self-defense, yet apparently concealed carry shouldn't be allowed anyway? Have you actually thought about your argument at all, or did you just spout whatever felt good at the time? I see no justification here for any action at all. Try again.

  • wakko posted at 1:34 pm on Tue, Nov 13, 2012.

    wakko Posts: 1

    You have completely missed the point of concealed carry. The issue is much, much more personal than finding a "solution to violent crime". If there were a solution, we'd have found it by now.

    Concealed carry offers a tool for the preservation of life and limb. It offers a choice to those who want it. On every issue, having more choices is a better preservation of individual liberty than anything else. Having more choices takes nothing away from anyone. This is just as true with legalized abortion, legalized pornography, and legalized concealed carry. My ability to choose the best means for self-defense takes nothing away from you, even if you make a different choice.

    The simple reality is, criminals don't care about the law. That's what makes them criminals. So, the only thing the law can hope to accomplish is 1) dealing with the aftermath of violent crime and 2) removing legitimate choices from good, lawful people.

    Furthermore, your speculation that "most people" aren't likely to take calm, measured action ignores the facts and reality. Since the late 80s, there has been a growing number of states with concealed carry laws, yet mysteriously there has been a distinct lack of people who carry "freezing up". In fact, an honest survey of the news articles and crime statistics (like the peer-reviewed studies done by Dr. Gary Kleck) reveals the painfully obvious reality that people who care enough to arm themselves ALSO care enough to obtain (and maintain) firearms training. This isn't a one-time purchase that goes forgotten in the bottom of your dresser drawer, but a life-long commitment to personal safety.

    The bottom line is, firearms ownership and concealed carry is a right that all citizens have. The government has exactly zero justification to restrict such a right and, in fact, has every incent to encourage the exercise of these rights because they instill a sense of responsibility and community in everyone who chooses to carry a firearm.

    Finally, any person that tells me my 80+ year old grandmother shouldn't carry a firearm for her own protection against younger, stronger, faster thugs who would victimize her is a worthless, spineless coward who operates under the mistaken belief that FEELING safe from "scary" inanimate objects is somehow superior to BEING safe by learning how effective use of tools improve one's odds of survival.

  • BHirsh posted at 1:18 pm on Tue, Nov 13, 2012.

    BHirsh Posts: 2

    Since Chicago has tried everything else under the sun yet the problem increases exponentially every day, and since almost all the other states have enacted lawful concealed carry and watched their violent crime rates go DOWN, only someone who is either insane or politically motivated by statist philosophy could possibly oppose enacting lawful concealed carry in illinois.

    I'll leave it to you, on a case-by-case basis, which of these categorical misfits is writing any given editorial.

  • vibes369 posted at 12:02 pm on Tue, Nov 13, 2012.

    vibes369 Posts: 1

    If there truely is only correlation in the data, then the opponents of this measure are standing on it as well. The argument presented is merely one against change, not against gun rights. By your logic, there is little to suggest that the law would NOT be useful, and you have already mentioned that it makes intuitive sense. You appear to be stacking yourselves on the wrong side of the argument.

  • Charlie posted at 10:45 am on Tue, Nov 13, 2012.

    Charlie Posts: 1

    Funny! You claim that the arguments for concealed carry are "couched in emotion, ideology and correlative statistics", yet you use the same to argue against it. It's really simple, every person has the right to protect themselves from violent attack, regardless of where they are when that attack occurs. A gun allows everyone the ability to protect themselves regardless of how dominated they may be by the aggressor. With a gun they are on equal footing. You are right, the criminals do have guns already. They don't care about the laws and commit the violence. How does allowing a law abiding citizen, who doesn't commit acts of violence, risk increasing the violence? The only violence increased is the acceptable violence that occurs in self-defense.

  • jack burton posted at 10:00 am on Tue, Nov 13, 2012.

    jack burton Posts: 2

    I agree totally with the editorial...

    Illinois does not need a concealed-carry law.

    You see, for many decades hundreds of thousands of law-abiding citizens here in

    Indiana have legally carried concealed handguns, and criminals know it is a bad

    idea to attack a Hoosier. Nothing says no to a rapist or mugger quite like a bullet

    hole in the chest.

    This encourages our rapists, muggers, home invaders, burglars, mass killers,

    terrorists, white-sheeted bigots, gay bashers, gangbangers and anti-Semites to

    leave Indiana and move to Illinois, the only state left where the "defenseless

    lambs" theory of self-defense still exists. The mass exodus of our criminals helps

    ensure the continued well-being of Indiana residents -- even those who choose not

    to carry a handgun.

    I realize this makes life more difficult for those of you in Illinois who are

    volunteering to be targets of opportunity for all those bad guys but if it saves

    just one Hoosier life, it is worth it. We thank you.

  • JROD06 posted at 8:53 am on Tue, Nov 13, 2012.

    JROD06 Posts: 20

    Since I cannot find a "Like" button. Well done sir. I think the Illini Editorial Board should stick to what they know best....raising taxes, rising Chicago crime, and running businesses out of the state.

  • JROD06 posted at 8:51 am on Tue, Nov 13, 2012.

    JROD06 Posts: 20

    ~"In the end, concealed carry is a reality in most of the country"

    Incorrect...concealed carry is the reality in ALL of the country guessed it....ILLINOIS!!!!!!

  • bobthegunslinger posted at 12:16 am on Tue, Nov 13, 2012.

    bobthegunslinger Posts: 2

    a concealed weapon may someday save your ass!

  • doctoralstudent posted at 10:45 pm on Mon, Nov 12, 2012.

    doctoralstudent Posts: 2

    The 2nd Amendment affirms the right of not only keeping arms, but bearing them as well. The authors of the article claim to be a supporter of bearing arms, but then explain why they don't like the idea of bearing arms and that law-abiding citizens should be restricted from bearing arms.

    The article makes use of several logical fallacies and cherry-picks selected opinions. One straw-man logical fallacy is that opponents of their view give emotional arguments when the opposite is the case nationwide. Those that support gunowner-control regularly and consistently proclaim anecdotal tragedy typically the day of the tragedy itself to try to further their cause.

    The article cites sources, but these are not studies of what occurs in the country; these are literature review that talk about what other people have written on the subject. The National Academy of Sciences (2005) report is one of these lit reviews. Lit reviews are great for their purpose, but using it the way the editors did in the article above does not support their claims.

    The citations to Polifact (2012) are also not supporting of the editors claim. Polifact also cites National Academy of Sciences (2005) and cherry-picks it's own pieces in addition to making it's own claim. Polifact's citations are wildly inaccurate and even uses political special interest groups to attempt to support statements. Polifact's opinion piece is woefully done.

    Polifact's opinion is unsupported.

    LaPierre's statement is no doubt intended to further the work of his affiliated special interest group. However, in this instance, he is giving a restatement of Lott (1996, 2000) which is peer-reviewed study of the entire country and what actually occurs. Lott showed that places in which carry laws allows citizens to literally bear arms and not just pay lip service, the results were that citizens did indeed protect themselves and their loved ones. Lott's results were that if other places also allowed for citizens to bear arms, this would result in:
    * 1,500 less murders
    * 4,100 less rapes
    * 12,000 less robberies
    * 60,000 less agravated assaults.
    ...each year

    LaPierre's statement is supported.

    The article above also inserts many completely unsupported conjectures claiming that citizens can't act for themselves. This is the opposite of what occurs. People are capable and do deal with life every day. Lott shows this, Kleck & Gertz show that citizens shoot more attempted rapists and attempted murderers than our esteemed law enforcement officers do, Wright & Rossi show that criminals are much more afraid of an armed citizen than the police...and the list goes on.

    The article above is poorly researched and written. It is heavily slanted and does not show what actually occurs.

    If a person supports bearing arms (and not paying lip-service), crime is reduced and lives are saved.

  • bobthegunslinger posted at 9:44 pm on Mon, Nov 12, 2012.

    bobthegunslinger Posts: 2

    yeah right!because the "no gun allowed"signs have always worked!i always carry and have never caused any harm to others in the twenty years i`ve carried concealed.all i hear the same old story about the old wild west and blood in the streets,when the truth is law abiding citizens have done nothing but make your life safer!open you r eyes to the truth!


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