State figures dispel anti-gun predictions
Wednesday, January 9, 2008 10:23 AM EST
At issue: A look back at Michigan’s concealed carry gun law, six years after it took effect.
Our view: Data indicates law-abiding citizens, given a chance to make good choices, have led to improved safety as well as to more freedom.
Laws tend to restrict citizens, if only — we’re told — for our own good. The ever-growing “do not” list now includes smoking in your own private business (unless, for now, it happens to be a bar or restaurant), not wearing a motorcycle helmet, failing to buckle your seat belt, playing dodgeball or tag on certain playgrounds, gambling on the Internet, refusing to buy health insurance (if you live in Massachusetts) or, in other areas, serving food cooked with trans fat.
So imagine a law that not only gives the public more individual freedom but, six years after implementation, seems to have contributed to a safer society.
According to a Detroit Free Press story published Sunday, Michigan now has more than 155,000 residents (about one in 65) legally licensed to carry a loaded firearm. That’s a six-fold increase since the state’s concealed carry law took effect. Most of us remember how nanny-state supporters objected to the law, assuring us that giving people more freedom to exercise their Second Amendment rights would “obviously” produce a flood of violence. Hundreds more people, they predicted, would die in shootouts on highways, city streets and businesses.
Instead, the opposite occurred. As permits have gone up, shootings have gone down and so has violent crime. In fact, the FBI reported Tuesday that violent crime in Detroit fell a surprising 12 percent in the first sixth months of 2007. This came despite a terrible economy that caused one university criminologist to anticipate a crime increase.
While it is not scientific to assign a cause-and-effect relationship to this phenomenon, similar results have been reported for years in most of the approximately 40 other states that have less restrictive concealed-carry firearm permits. On New Year’s Eve in Indianapolis, a shopper with a firearm stopped a supermarket armed robbery in progress and detained the suspect for police, without needing to fire a single shot. It was just another example of how more law-abiding citizens are protecting themselves and others.
The current data should be considered by Michigan lawmakers. They have a chance to pass House Bill 5162 that could give state teachers who try and who pass background checks and CCW permit training the option to legally protect their classes with a concealed firearm. The exasperated protests that students would be less safe if schools dropped their “gun-free zones” is identical to the claims we heard six years ago, claims discredited by experience.
It’s time to acknowledge that society is more free — and more safe — when criminals are not the only private citizens who might be carrying a firearm.