It’s a GD shame that MSNBC couldn’t give a proper citation for that figure. And gives us some idea of how many actually carry. And where. And when. And how. And why. All we get in the net’s report on the concealed carry “issue” is “From its beginnings in the 1980s, the ‘right-to-carry’ movement has succeeded in boosting the number of licensed concealed-gun carriers from fewer than 1 million to a record 6 million today, according to estimates from gun-rights groups that are supported by msnbc.com’s research. And while hotly debated, the effect of this dramatic increase is largely unknown.” Welcome to the waffle house. May I take your order? “But even with the push to expand concealed-carry rights now in its third decade, no scientific studies have reached any widely accepted conclusions about the movement’s effect on crime or personal safety.” Other than say, the exhaustive (and exhausting) statistical motherload unearthed and dissected by John Lott in More Guns, Less Crime. Never mind, there’s serious prevarication to perform!

The reasons for the push to loosen concealed carry laws are themselves open to debate.

Kristen Rand, legislative director for the Violence Policy Center, a gun-control group, said the movement “has to do with selling more guns.” While it was pushed by groups like the NRA, it also “dovetailed with the gun industry’s desperate need to find a new market.”

“Their efforts at reaching out to minorities and women have failed,” said Rand, whose group advocates banning all handguns and some rifles but believes sporting rifles and shotguns should remain legal. “The industry constantly has to look for a way to make a guy who already owns 15 guns buy a new one.”

But Alan Gottlieb, president of the Second Amendment Foundation, which promotes and defends gun rights, said the movement has been a grass-roots drive.

This is what the media calls “presenting both sides of the debate.” Or “fair and balanced.” What I like to call exploiting both extremes of an argument without putting either into any kind of factual context. What about some sales information? Or some stats on the size and growth rate of that grass roots gun thing?

The truth about guns is that the truth about guns is out there . . . somewhere. Oh wait. It’s heeeeere. But not here.

Rand, the spokeswoman for the Violence Policy Center, acknowledged that “we don’t have centralized data-gathering to know what people are doing with these licenses.”

“(But) anecdotally, we know they’re doing quite a bit of harm,” she said.

Been there, excoriated that. But not this:

Dr. David Hemenway, Ph.D., a Harvard professor of public health who has studied gun violence for years, said that when it comes to concealed-carry laws, neither side can make a legitimate claim about their effects on crime.

Hemenway said that the most definitive review to date — a 2004 look at research on the topic by the National Research Council — “found no credible evidence that passage of right-to-carry laws increases or decreases violent crime.”

The who? You can find a list of the academics who participated in this “we don’t have a fucking clue” report here. But you’ll have to wait until I get a copy to find out who the mysterious “dissenting opinion” was, and what they had to say.

Meanwhile, this is about as good as mainstream gun control reporting gets. And it’s not very good, is it?

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