More Guns, Less Crime
There was a story in the National Post today about a four-year-old Texas boy who shot his two-year-old brother in the head with their mother’s handgun.
When I was last down to Texas, I was surprised at the media focus on handguns. Texans take their right to bear arms seriously. And, there are some very perplexing points of view on the issue. John Lott, a professor at the University of Chicago Law School, proposes that more guns equals less violent crime.
He recently completed a study of one type of gun control law, laws on concealed handguns, also known as “shall-issue” laws. Thirty-one states give their citizens the right to carry concealed handguns if they do not have a criminal record or a history of significant mental illness.
Our findings are dramatic. Our most conservative estimates show that by adopting shall-issue laws, states reduced murders by 8.5%, rapes by 5%, aggravated assaults by 7% and robbery by 3%. If those states that did not permit concealed handgun in 1992 had permitted them back then, citizens might have been spared approximately 1,570 murders, 4,177 rapes, 60,000 aggravated assaults and 12,000 robberies. To put it even more simply: Criminals, we found, respond rationally to deterrence threats.
Of course, when four-year-old boys decide to use handguns, who knows what might happen.
As a competitive shooter, competing in both the US and Canada, the most common problem seen in the States is education. Canadian law, while strict and sometimes highly constraining, necessitates a high level of safety training, including firearms handling and safety procedures including safe storage. Having been an instructor in Canada for six years, I am still surprised by the lack of knowledge in “trained” people. Having done training as an instructor and as a student, and also having competed in the US, the level of general training is very low. Poor storage contributes to a very high number of firearm related injuries.
I first purchased Professor Lott’s book five years ago. His data is well researched and his samples are reasonable and representative. However, having completed CCW training in the States, there is still a significant opportunity for skills development in the US. Interestingly, shooters engaging in competition, including those disciplines sometimes referred to as “combat shooting”, have a much better safety record. The challenge is the gun owner who doesn’t shoot.
You highlight a key issue: skills development. Proliferation of handguns without a corresponding focus on safety training leads to unfortunate incidents such as the one reported in the National Post.
I do not have a need to carry a concealed handgun nor do I have a need to keep a loaded weapon in my home. Like you, I would expect those who own firearms to be properly trained in handling and safety procedures.
Such a tragic event for that family in Texas.