By Rob Morse
It is more dangerous when honest men and women face criminals barehanded, and safer when the good guys are armed? That isn’t a hard question to answer. It’s easy to calculate the additional lives we’d save each year if a state allows honest people to carry guns in public. I’ll explain it in a minute.
I will, but the real mystery here is why we’re still talking about fantasy problems while real violent criminals are killing our neighbors. We’re acting as if our bad dreams were more real than the bodies with chalk marks around them on the evening news.
Part of that problem is political. Politicians appeal to our fears and our fantasies. We’re suckers for that. Politicians also suck up to anti-gun billionaires to extract campaign contributions. Ultimately, voters like us are the problem when we hide behind sound-bite solutions. Back in the real world, disarming our neighbors costs lives.
When you take even the shallowest look at violence, you notice that an armed attacker usually overpowers their unarmed victim. Criminals may break the law, but they aren’t stupid. They choose tools that work and victims unlikely to resist.
To quote one longtime thug, ‘Guns and knives make people so generous.’
Robbers sometimes threaten to shoot us even when they don’t have a gun. Criminals only use guns in about one-seventh of all violent crimes. Unfortunately, violent criminals wait until they have an advantage in strength, numbers, or surprise. Rather than struggle with the insoluble problem of knowing how real the threat of being victimized is, the real solution is for good men and women to arm themselves.
We don’t need clever calculations to know how many lives are saved when victims are armed. We know that about 1.7 million legal gun owners use a firearm in self-defense each year.
We know how many people live in each state and already have their carry permits. We know the rate of violent crime in each state, and we learned that about 30 percent of adults will carry concealed if the carry permit is optional. We even know how often people with their carry permits actually go armed in public. We know what happens because we asked, and because 21 states already have a form of permit-optional concealed (constitutional) carry.
In most states, we’re talking about saving thousands of lives a year by removing restrictions on carrying a gun. We can argue about the clearest way to explain the answer, but the calculations only take junior high school level math.
In contrast, fantasies about guns are complicated. We can imagine that all kinds of things might happen if we let our neighbors go armed without first a getting a government-issued permission slip from the state.
- We imagine that the police will keep us safe. We ignore that the police ask their own families to go armed because the world is dangerous.
- We imagine that if everyone can carry, the police won’t be able to tell the good guys from the bad guys unless we have a state permit in their pocket. We ignore that the police seldom know the history of the people they stop on the street, or the identity of the passengers in the cars they stop.
- We imagine that our neighbors will act crazy with a gun. We ignore that civilians who legally carry a firearm in public are statistically even more law abiding and non-violent than the police themselves.
- We imagine that enacting more laws will keep us safe. We ignore that we have already over 23 thousand firearms regulations today and criminals ignore them.
- We imagine there are almost no guns in our world today other than those carried by the police and criminals. We ignore that concealed is concealed, and one-in-a-dozen adults in public is legally carrying a gun today.
- We imagine that our laws somehow disarm the bad guys, but leave the good guys free to protect themselves. We ignore that making it harder for the good guys to get a gun legally means more innocent victims are disarmed and victimized by criminals.
Some of us cling to these fantasies even though they cost lives. We feel virtuous as we imagine an ideal world without evil or violence. We want safety without effort. We want our security to be someone else’s responsibility. Clinging to those fantasies leaves us vulnerable in more ways than one.
Politicians are all too eager to sell us something for nothing. All the politician has to do is put more ink on paper and send out a press release about more gun control. These are the same politicians who have their own security details. Most of them are exempt from their own gun control laws. These are the politicians who get large campaign contributions from anti-gun billionaires.
I have a problem with that because we are the ones who pay the price for these delusions they’re selling. Demanding that our neighbors live according to a gun-free fantasy puts our neighbors at risk. Sometimes it gets our neighbors injured, raped, or killed.
I believe we should live and let live. Think what you will, own a gun or don’t, but please don’t use the law to chain your neighbors to your gun-free fantasies. Leave your neighbors free to take care of themselves. That’s exactly what permit-optional concealed carry laws do.
Contact your legislators and set your neighbors free.
This article originally appeared at Slow Facts and is reprinted here with permission.