The Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence and the Violence Policy Center (VPC) are peddling the notion that concealed-handgun permit holders are a danger to society. Last month, the center released a report claiming that in the past three years, 166 people were killed by holders of concealed-weapon permits. A closer look at the evidence suggests that many of the so-called victims of gun violence were criminals. Because more than 6 million Americans hold permits, it is important to set the record straight.
As one of the most populous states with a right-to-carry law, Florida has the most concealed-handgun permits. Between Oct. 1, 1987, and May 31, the state issued them to 1.8 million individuals. So far, just 167 permits have been revoked over any type of firearms-related violation. Most of those involved trivial, nonviolent infractions. To put that figure into perspective, the annual revocation rate is a minuscule 0.00017 percent, with just three revocations since January 2008. More people are killed every year by falling vending machines than by holders of a concealed-weapon permit.
You wouldn’t know that from the rhetoric of the gun-control groups, which portray Florida as a dangerous place to live because of its laws. According to the VPC report, the Sunshine State accounted for 17 of the 96 “killer” permit holders nationwide, far more than any other state.
A recent Fox News investigation shot holes in the study. No charges were ever brought in seven of the Florida cases. One case clearly did not involve a permit holder - the person was, in fact, charged with illegally carrying a concealed handgun. Two cases that are still pending apparently involved self-defense, with one local newspaper account suggesting that the permit holder had a “strong case” to show that he had acted properly. Another case involved the accidental discharge of a firearm. The gun grabbers score all of these incidents as kills, but at least nine of them are examples of right-to-carry laws being used by permit holders to protect themselves and their families.
Three cases did result in “convictions,” but they hardly represent clear-cut examples. One involved an accidental discharge and a conviction for involuntary manslaughter. In another case, a convicted felon sparked the incident by confronting the permit holder. According to the prosecutor, the permit holder “was in some way defending himself during an escalating altercation between the men caught on the security video” and that, “People can look at that tape and interpret it two or three different ways.” His conviction rested on the question of whether he had done enough to avoid the confrontation.
The Brady Campaign and the Violence Policy Center show their desperation by twisting legitimate examples of self-defense into crimes. The simple fact is that most gun owners are law-abiding citizens. Suggesting that burglars, rapists and other hardened criminals are “victims” of permit holders is a stretch, even for these groups. The real statistics show that America is a safer place thanks to more of its citizens having a right to protect themselves and their families.