Is anyone at this point unaware that The New York Times believes that the Bill of Rights stops with the clause about a free press? Some rights are apparently more worth defending than others. Last week, Twitter was aflame with tweets about an article, written anonymously by the Editorial Board, titled, “The Concealed-Carry Fantasy.” The article is a compilation of opinion pieces that have appeared in the Times and a copy and paste of the Violence Policy Center’s “Firearm Justifiable Homicides and Non-Fatal Self-Defense Gun Use” and from the same group’s “Concealed Carry Killers.”
The VPC is well known to supporters of gun rights as an organization that never met a gun control measure that was sufficiently onerous for the group’s tastes. We’re told by the VPC in “Concealed Carry Killers” that in the period between May 2007 and the present, 763 carry license holders have killed someone in a non-self-defense shooting, using their “concealed, loaded handguns.” The implication we’re supposed to grasp is that people who carry a “concealed, loaded handgun” in public are a menace to society.
But delve into the numbers. As admitted by the VPC, seventy-three of their examples are cases pending trial—in other words, still not proved guilty. In the 579 incidents in which the total of 763 persons were killed, 223 involved the suicide of the carry license holder. This fact alone should alert even gun control activists to a problem in the thinking. If someone has decided to commit suicide—whether alone or with the intention to kill others in the process—a carry license is beside the point. Are we being asked to believe that people take classes, apply for a license, and submit to the background checks so as to be able to carry a concealed handgun legally to the place they choose to die? Even if we could find someone whose thinking is that bizarre, carrying with intent to endanger public safety is already against the rules.
Besides, as gun-free zones keep demonstrating, people with evil in their hearts will carry without seeking permission first.
The numbers aren’t so simple as we’re led to believe by the headline, but for the moment, let’s allow the VPC to hang on to its number. How does that compare to the total number of people with carry licenses? According to the Crime Prevention Research Center, as of last year, 11,113, 013 of us in the United States are licensed to carry a handgun. Now yes, this is John Lott’s organization, but the data cited are from state records. Perhaps gun control advocates will acknowledge that he and his people can use calculators. This 11.1 million Americans does not include people who choose to carry in states such as Vermont in which no license is required.
For ease of calculation (I am an English teacher, after all), let’s round down. Let’s say that there are 10,000,000 Americans carrying legally. Divide 763 by ten million, and you get 0.0000763 or 0.00763%. Even if the number of people carrying handguns is lower and if the VPC has missed a bunch of cases of licensed packers of heat committing criminal homicides, the percentage is still tiny.
We can verify this estimate with data from the State of Texas. In 2013, the Department of Public Safety there had 242,641 licenses issued. In that same year, out of total criminal convictions in the state, carry license holders made up only 0.3106%. That’s all manner of crimes, not just homicide.
And then there’s the report titled, Priorities for Research to Reduce the Threat of Firearm-Related Violence, published by the National Academies Press in 2013—you know, the one ordered by President Obama, the one that cites the National Crime Victimization Survey as saying the number of defensive gun uses runs between 60,000 and 120,000 each year. That’s much lower than the infamous 2.5 million we keep hearing about, but it’s still at least twice the number of people who die from gunfire in the same period.
Of course, the VPC tells us that only 259 justifiable homicides involved a gun in 2012. And The New York Times calls that organization a “gun safety group.” The former statement implies that the only defensive gun use that counts is one that involves someone getting shot. But consider what to me is a more likely scenario: Armed good guy is approached by a criminal intent on violence, good guy draws his weapon, criminal reconsiders his unwise choices and runs off. Now if that happens to you, are you going to hang around in an area where you’ve already been threatened to await the police who, after making you fill out lots of paperwork, will wonder why you bothered reporting not much?
With regard to the assessment of the Times, I can only repeat what I said before on the subject of media bias. When the article is about guns, too many journalists feel excused from doing even basic research. It’s sad that we’ve reached this state of affairs. What is even worse is that many in this country are willing to accept without critical analysis what the media tells them. It’s our duty, with facts and good reasoning, to get the correct word out.
The views and opinions expressed in this post are those of the author’s and do not necessarily reflect the position of Guns.com.