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.