Products Camping, Hiking, and mountain
Why Won't The Media Report It? by Robert A. Waters, author of The Best Defense
By any standard, the concealed carry laws passed by nearly 30 states in the 1980s and 1990s have been wildly successful. But if your only information comes from newspapers and television, you'd think permit holders were the source of thousands of criminal acts.
In 1999, as the debate heated up over Proposition B in Missouri, newspapers in the state waxed hysterical. Allowing citizens to carry concealed weapons would lead to bloody rampages, editorialists claimed. Robbers would shoot first, then take your money from your corpse. Permit holders in cars would be unable to control their rage and leave the roadways littered with bodies. Accidental shootings would increase. In a representative article, a writer in the St. Louis Post Dispatch compared supporters of the bill to snake oil salesmen. "Let the buyer beware," the writer intoned.
What is the real record of concealed carry laws?
Between October, 1987 and January, 1999, the state of Florida issued more than a half-million permits. Only 109 were revoked because the licensee used a firearm in the commission of a crime. In other words, the success rate of Florida's concealed carry law was 99.999%.
By contrast, the dropout rate for Florida's public high school students is approaching 50%.
If the two were graded, Florida's concealed carry laws would grade out at an A+ while its high schools would rate an F-.
Virginia passed concealed carry in 1995, and out of 50,000 permits, not one licensee has been convicted of a firearms-related crime. Between 1994 and 1997, Arizona had issued 63,000 permits--only 50 were revoked. Other states report similar results.
In addition to the lack of criminal activity on the part of permit holders, each year thousands of crimes are prevented by licensees.
On January 21, 1998, Kenneth and Mary Ellen Moring were attacked in their Orlando, Florida motel room by two robbers. When one of the assailants drew a gun on the couple, Mary Ellen knocked it out of his hand and Kenneth, a permit holder, used his own gun to capture the robber.
On April 1, 1998, Thomas Ellerbee turned the tables on two armed robbers. As he walked to his Philadelphia home, Ellerbee was assaulted and robbed. The victim, who had a permit, pulled his pistol out of his pocket and shot both robbers.
On September 22, 1997, when an armed robber placed a sawed-off shotgun to the head of waitress Amy Norton, two patrons of the Jacksonville, Florida seafood restaurant stood up and shot him. Both were permit holders.
One of the reasons concealed carry laws are so successful is that they are designed to aid law-abiding citizens who feel a need for protection from violent crime. During an eight-year period from 1987 to 1995, the state of Florida received only 723 applicants from prior convicted felons.
Citizens who obey the law are not the problem--they're part of the solution.
Yale Professor Dr. John Lott's rigorous analysis of state concealed carry laws has clearly shown that violent crime has decreased in states that enacted concealed carry laws while in most other states violent crime remained the same or increased. His conclusion that criminals fear armed citizens and alter their habits to avoid confrontations has been mirrored in other studies.
If this is so, why hasn't the media reported the successes of concealed carry?
First, reporters can't know everything. They depend on sources to give them information, then they filter what they learn through subjective lenses. When a gun issue comes up, many will contact Handgun Control, Inc. (anti-gun) and National Rifle Association (pro-gun) for information. Independent studies have documented that HCI's data is usually reported as fact while NRA's statements are labeled assertions or opinions. In his book, More Guns, Less Crime, Dr. Lott quotes a spokesperson for the [anti-gun] Violence Policy Center as saying, "We can get good media whenever we want."
The second problem is a perceived lack of time. To obtain accurate and objective data on concealed carry, the reporter can easily call the division of licensing in each state. But this might require extra time and effort, so HCI's analysis becomes a quick-fix for the proposed story. Now he doesn't have to spend all day talking on the telephone to bureaucrats.
Are reporters anti-gun?
While many sincerely attempt to produce objective, balanced stories, some are blatantly anti-gun. Most obtained their university degrees during the 1960s and 1970s, a time of liberal thought on most college campuses. Their belief systems were shaped by their education, which included a bias against guns. So even when a liberal reporter attempts to be objective, personal views may seep into his reporting.
Have concealed carry laws fostered a wild-west shoot-em-up mentality among permit holders? Not at all.
Has blood run in the streets from gun battles and accidental shootings committed by concealed carry holders? Not at all.
Have states experienced negative consequences from having passed statutes that permit law-abiding citizens to carry guns. Not at all.
Why won't the media report it?
A. Waters obtained his Bachelor's Degree from Middle Tennessee State
University, and his Master's Degree from the University of Georgia. He
worked for 25 years with the mentally handicapped before taking early
retirement. Now living in his native Ocala, Florida, he is active in the
community as a volunteer for a local Association for Retarded Citizens.
He is married, with two
Robert A. Waters may be reached by e-mail at [email protected]