Saturday, January 27, 2018

Message to the GOP: Right-to-Carry Laws Lead to More Violent Crime

SB 372 Place of religious worship; carrying dangerous weapon.

log in | tally sheet 
floor: 01/23/18  Senate: Read third time and passed Senate (21-Y 18-N)

YEAS--Black, Carrico, Chafin, Chase, Cosgrove, DeSteph, Dunnavant, Hanger, McDougle, Newman, Norment, Obenshain, Peake, Reeves, Ruff, Stanley, Stuart, Sturtevant, Suetterlein, Vogel, Wagner--21.
NAYS--Barker, Dance, Deeds, Ebbin, Favola, Howell, Lewis, Locke, Lucas, Marsden, Mason, McClellan, McPike, Petersen, Saslaw, Spruill, Surovell, Wexton--18.

Recently Republican political whores of the NRA passed a bill in the Virginia Senate committee which would allow guns to be carried by worshippers into churches.  As WTKR reports, the senators voted 21-18 in favor of SB 372, sponsored by Republican Sen. Ben Chafin of Russell County.  Thankfully, Governor Northam - who has said that as a doctor he understands the damage gus cause to the human body - has vowed to veto the measure which is little more than yet another NRA effort to increase gun sales that will benefit its masters, the gun manufacturers.  The ridiculous Republican argument that more guns make society safer fly directly in the face of modern analysis which finds that more guns lead to more violent crime, not to mention many more guns in the hands of criminals as the number of stolen guns continues to soar.  A piece in Salon looks at the real truth which is lost on Republicans who are akin to pigs gorging themselves at the trough of NRA money.  Here are highlights:

One of the most contentious arguments within the larger gun control debate is over whether right-to-carry laws that make it legal for gun owners to carry loaded weapons in public, usually concealed on their person, make people safer. Gun rights advocates argue that packing heat is a prevention against crime and violence, invoking slogans like, "An armed society is a polite society." Gun control proponents, however, argue that a proliferation of loaded weapons is bound to lead to more violence, if only because people have easier access to the means to harm others.
John Donohue, a legal researcher who works for Stanford Law School, has been working on this question for the better part of two decades.  . . . But now "this data [has] become complete enough, and some of the new statistical techniques have been implemented," he continued.
The correlation between the passage of right-to-carry or RTC laws and violent crime has long been documented, Donohue explained, but as anyone with even the most basic knowledge of statistics understands, correlation is not causation. Now, with a combination of sophisticated statistical analysis techniques, Donohue and his team believe they have been able to document a causal relationship.
"Ten years after the adoption of RTC laws, violent crime is estimated to be 13-15 percent higher than it would have been without the RTC law," explains the paper, published at the National Bureau of Economic Research.
“The most obvious problem is people get into disputes that, without guns, would at the most lead to a bloody nose," Donohue explained. If one or both parties are carrying guns, such conflicts "can now lead to death." 
A high-profile killing in Minnesota last week offers a good example. A 25-year-old man named Alexander Weiss, who had a bumper sticker on his car that read "Gun Control Means Hitting Your Target," was arrested for allegedly shooting 17-year-old Muhammed Rahim to death after a traffic accident. Witnesses describe the two young men as confrontational, and Weiss has claimed he was acting in self-defense. But it's hard to imagine the incident would have ended in death if Weiss hadn't been carrying.
"[W]hen you start carrying guns, you make them much more likely to be stolen," which means that right-to-carry laws offer a steady supply of guns to people who are already inclined to commit crimes. 
"American gun owners, preoccupied with self-defense, are inadvertently arming the very criminals they fear," explained Brian Freskos at The Trace, kicking off his November investigative report on the way stolen guns have become a major component of the gun crime problem.
More than 237,000 guns were stolen from legal gun owners in 2016 alone, though Freskos believes that is a drastic underestimate, as many gun owners never report thefts to the police. One reason gun theft is so common is because right-to-carry laws and NRA propaganda encourage gun owners to have their firearms accessible at all times: in their cars, in their homes or on their person. If people kept guns locked up (as responsible firearms owners did for generations), this problem largely wouldn't exist. . . . Reliable estimates suggest as many as 3.5 million stolen guns have entered the black market over the past decade.
The gun industry profits from all those stolen guns, since many people who have a gun stolen are back in the store the next day, buying a replacement. So the NRA has every incentive to encourage people to carry guns or otherwise store them in places where they can easily be stolen. That ends up boosting profits for manufacturers, whom the NRA represents first and foremost.
Perhaps it's not surprising, then, that the NRA has been eagerly pushing "permitless carry" laws. Getting a concealed carry license is already laughably easy. . . . . Such a change opens up a new market for the gun industry: People who want to feel tough and walk around strapped, but can't be bothered to learn to shoot the thing or answer a few simple questions first.
On Wednesday, the Indiana General Assembly will have a committee hearing on just such a proposal, HB 1022, introduced by state Rep. Jim Lucas, which would repeal the law requiring any permit whatsoever in order to carry a handgun in the state. Gun control activists, who have testified previously against this proposal, plan to show up in force at the hearing.
The reality is that carrying guns may make people feel safer, but all the available evidence suggests that it makes society less safe. Having guns everywhere makes lethal violence more likely, and also has a psychological effect, making it seem more socially acceptable — desirable, even — to resolve conflicts with violence instead of diplomacy. We all need to heed the immortal words of Johnny Cash: "Don't take your guns to town, son/ Leave your guns at home."

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