Don't believe anti-gun statistics
By Robert L. Pruden
Henry Riekert's column cites the Violence Policy Center as a "well respected, non-profit, gun control advocacy group" -- true, if citing selective statistics and ignoring data that do not support yours is respectable.
One of the group's stated goals is a nationwide ban on the private possession of handguns. That isn't gun control; it's gun elimination.
The figure Riekert cites -- 5,314 arrests of Texas concealed-carry licensees -- sounds incriminating until you look behind the raw numbers. Total arrests spread over the period selected (Jan. 1, 1996, to Aug. 31, 2001) averages 1,138 a year. That includes arrests for all offenses, including traffic arrests.
Since there were about 213,000 concealed-carry licenses issued during that period, that calculates to a percentage of 0.5 percent a year being arrested, not exactly a staggering rate.
And I hope Riekert is not confusing arrests with convictions; they are not the same. Texas Department of Public Safety records show that 55 percent of the concealed-carry licensees arrested were cleared of violent offenses.
The department also says that concealed-carry licensees' frequency of arrest for violent offenses is only 17 percent that of the general public. The rate for non-violent offenses is even lower: only 7 percent.
How about the revocation rate of concealed-carry licenses in Texas? That will indicate how violent those licensees are. Between Jan. 1, 1996, and May 1, 2002, 1,724 licenses were revoked out of 240,506 issued; a revocation rate of .07 percent. That's not an overwhelming number and certainly does not indicate the rampant lawlessness Riekert would have you believe.
In Florida, 1,123,373 concealed-carry licenses were issued between Oct. 1, 1987, and Feb. 28. Only 157 licenses have been revoked because the licensee used a firearm while committing a crime. That's a rate of one 0.01 percent. Also, 2,976 licenses have been revoked for all offenses; that's a rate of 0.26 percent. Not what one would call a crime wave.
How about a couple of quotes from Texas officials regarding the concealed-carry law?
District Attorney John B. Holmes of Houston said, "I (felt) that such legislation ... present(ed) a clear and present danger to law-abiding citizens by placing more handguns on our streets. Boy was I wrong. Our experience in Harris County, and indeed statewide, has proven my initial fears absolutely groundless."
Glenn White, president of the Dallas Police Association said, "All the horror stories I thought would come to pass didn't happen ... I think it's worked out well, and that says good things about citizens who have permits. I'm a convert."
In 1996, many of us said that passing Kentucky's concealed-carry law would not lead to blood in the streets, and it hasn't.
As for making the names of concealed-carry licensees public, to what purpose? Riekert implies that under the legislation he opposes, House Bill 290, a woman being stalked would not be able to find out whether her stalker had a concealed-carry license.
But the bill clarifies that once an EPO or DVO is issued against a licensee, a law enforcement officer is immediately dispatched to confiscate the license.
Straw men are easy to knock down, but they don't make much of a case.