- The Washington Times - Sunday, July 26, 2009

ANALYSIS/OPINION:

States offer a hodgepodge of concealed-handgun rules that prevent citizens from protecting themselves when traveling from one state to another. Sen. John Thune, South Dakota Republican, introduced an amendment to the defense authorization bill that would have fixed this problem by granting reciprocity for gun permits across state lines. In a 58-39 vote on Wednesday, supporters fell two short of the 60 votes needed to overcome a filibuster. This was a victory of fear over facts.

Thirty-seven of the 39 no votes were cast by Democrats. The two Republicans who crossed party lines to vote nay were Sen. Richard G. Lugar of Indiana and Sen. George V. Voinovich of Ohio. Gun-control advocates were predicting the worst if the vote succeeded. Sen. Frank R. Lautenberg, New Jersey Democrat, warned of a “radical agenda [that would put guns] ahead of safety and security in our communities.” Sen. Charles E. Schumer, New York Democrat, said, “It could reverse the dramatic success we’ve had in reducing crime in most all parts of America.”

The claims echo those made when concealed-handgun laws were being debated and introduced across the country over the past few decades. Gun controllers warned that permit holders would lose their tempers and there would be blood in the streets. That never happened.

In 2007, about 5 million Americans were permitted to carry concealed handguns across 48 states. Between Oct. 1, 1987, and June 30, 2009, Florida issued permits to more than 1.54 million people, many of whom renewed their permits multiple times. Just 167 had permits revoked for a firearms-related violation — about 0.01 percent. The same is true in state after state.

Groups supporting gun bans such as the Violence Policy Center and the Brady Campaign received a lot of news coverage for reports released last week claiming permit holders are dangerous. These advocacy groups focus on arrests and not convictions, and they make mistakes about whether those charged with violations actually have concealed-handgun permits. Even in the few cases where they correctly identify problems, they never discuss the low rate of law violations by permit holders.

When a permit holder fires a gun defensively and kills or wounds an attacker, even if the shooting was justified, that person is almost always arrested. A police officer who arrives on the scene can’t be sure what happened until an investigation is completed. These justified shootings are exactly why concealed-handgun permits are allowed. It’s misleading to include such instances as a cost of concealed-handgun laws.

A large majority of refereed academic studies by economists and criminologists find that crime rates across the country fall after concealed-handgun laws are adopted. None claimed to find a significant increase in crime. Thirty-nine senators voted this week to stop the Second Amendment at state lines.

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