I ate my wafer...

12/08/2006

Gun Control, Concealed Carry, and the White Elephant

So, I've always felt that its admirable to be able to very skeptically review one's own position on a topic and subject it to the same or higher level of scrutiny that you put your opponents' positions.

When I attempt to do this with regards to gun control, I try to be equally critical of authors on both sides that have integrity problems, be it Mr. Bellesiles or Mr. Lott. Having said that, with regards to concealed carry laws, I believe that it is impossible to correlate an increase in crime to liberal CCW laws, and there is, at an absolute minimum, a possibility of correlating a decrease in crime.

Now, as far as I'm concerned, as long as it doesn't significantly increase crime, I'd much rather let people carry guns than not. There is, however, a big white elephant in the corner that no one talks about: illegal carry by law abiding citizens. There are a number of studies that show that people tend to speed when the speed limit is unreasonably low, and likewise, in states with restrictive CCW laws, otherwise law abiding, citizens will illegally carry weapons when in dangerous areas.

So, the problem is that it is hard to figure out to statistically account for the number of people illegally carrying guns that prevent crimes, but never report them. Do liberal CCW laws tend to let people that would otherwise illegally carry act to help other people when they would have held back in fear of prosecution? I've been searching the interweb for a while, and can't come to a strong conclusion.

5 Comments:

  • do you have any numbers indicating the frequency with which civilian concealed carry weapons of any kind are used to stop a crime in progress? some people talk as if this would happen all the time if conceled carry were widespread, and while I know it happens a lot in movies, I'm curious if anyone's documented its frequency in real life. I'm aware that the role of concealed carry in a crime-fighting context is a preventative one. I'm just wondering if maybe those burglers/armed robbers/muggers, as they carefully weigh up the costs and benefits of their illegal actions, may be miscalculating.

    By Anonymous pjk, at 4:07 PM  

  • do you have any numbers indicating the frequency with which civilian concealed carry weapons of any kind are used to stop a crime in progress?

    Prior to 1993, there were thirteen surveys conducted in the US that supposedly gathered data on how many times Americans used their guns for self defense. These surveys came up annual numbers of 800,000 to 2.5 million. Please note that none of the surveys were deliberately looking for this data, and it was extrapolated from the answers to other questions.

    A criminologist from Florida State University named Gary Kleck conducted a nationwide survey in 1993 to determine how many Defensive Gun Uses (DGU) there were per year in the US.

    His research indicates that there are 2 millions DGU's, a figure that Dr. Kleck insists is extremely conservative. The vast majority of these DGU's were performed without any shots being fired, and no police report was made. A survey conducted by the Department of Justice in 1994 indicated that there were 1.5 million DGU's/year.

    Contrast this with the fact that there are approx 30,000 gun deaths each year, more than half of which are suicides.

    Your question is extremely difficult to answer, since there is very little data on whether or not a crime was in progress when a gun was produced for defensive purposes. How many of the DGU's were to discourage threatening behavior before a crime took place, and how many were in response to actual criminal activity that was broken off when the perp saw the gun and took to his heels? There is no way to tell.

    But what I always wonder is how many more crimes would be carried out if the DGU didn't take place.

    The link below leads to some more info on Dr. Kleck and his work.

    http://www.guncite.com/gcdgklec.html

    James

    By Blogger James R. Rummel, at 12:58 AM  

  • I have been made aware that in this region of California with its very restrictive CCW laws (in SF there are only five permits issued to non LEOs and the rest of the Bay Area isn't any less-restrictive), that unlawful gun-carry by law-abiding citizens, like speeding, is still frequent.
    There are parts of the Bay Area with very high crime-rates in which one should feel at risk withiout some form of protection - unless one were a complete idiot. It's not all pretty wildflowers and dancing hippies in fields of granola...
    My understanding of that type of carry is that it's always and entirely for personal self-defense and would not be extended to help another citizen.
    But that's all anecdotal.

    By Blogger DirtCrashr, at 1:56 PM  

  • speaking of guns, check this one out:

    Motorcycle gun

    By Blogger Judge373, at 3:59 PM  

  • Here is a website by a former Nashville PD officer. Take the "Are you going to be raped, robbed, stabbed, shot, or beaten?" test, which includes carrying illegally as a risk factor. See what it does to your score.

    http://www.rateyourrisk.org/

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 9:55 PM  

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