Yesterday evening I was on AC360 to discuss the Arizona Tragedy with David Gergen and Roland Martin. While I personally like Gergen, his knowledge of Arizona’s gun laws and invalid premises on conceal carry were a disservice to our discussion. He presupposes that Jared Lee Loughner was a CCW permit holder, and thus, right to carry failed, which, to all knowledge Loughner did not possess a permit, a violation of AZ law.
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More on the role of conceal carry in a bit. I’ve seen many are making the case that just “anyone” with mental illness can buy a gun and that Arizona’s “relaxed” gun laws contributed to the Arizona tragedy because a mentally ill individual was allowed to legally purchase a firearm and we can’t just have mentally ill people buying guns. No, we can’t, which is why Arizona has a law about this. AZ law expressly states that due to their prohibited possessor stipulation, anyone proving a danger to themselves or others pursuant to court order is not allowed to purchase a firearm.
Under Arizona law, prohibited possessor are defined in ARS 13-3101 which states:
7. “Prohibited possessor” means any person:
(a) Who has been found to constitute a danger to himself or to others or to be persistently or acutely disabled or gravely disabled pursuant to court order under section 36-540, and whose right to possess a firearm has not been restored pursuant to section 13-925.
Had campus security and his parents followed up with proper treatment and reported his actions, he, from what it sounds, would have been an easy PP and unable to buy a weapon. Had the Sheriff’s office acted upon what is suggested as their advanced knowledge of Loughner’s troubled history, they may have obtained a warrant and confiscated his firearm – or apprehended him before he bought it. Of course, this simply assumes that Loughner was only motivated to cause harm because he was in possession of a firearm and presupposes that the firearm was an accessory motivator and rules out for certain that Loughner would never have attacked anyone with, say, a knife, bat, or any other weapon.
The problem isn’t the fallacy that Arizona’s law failed – Arizona’s law, like every law, can only work if followed. Prohibited possession can only work if if troubled individuals are reported to authorities so that the existing laws can be applied to them and, in this case, prevent them from purchasing firearms.
Many are also targeting Arizona as a right to carry state, saying that concealed carry is a “loosening” of the laws and that it contributed to the AZ tragedy. I’m not sure if concealed carry records are public in Arizona, but considering that Loughner broke the law by killing people, I’m going to make a logical deduction here again and say that he likely didn’t obtain a CCW permit, either. Open carry is legal in Arizona and he could have openly carried his weapon just as easily as illegally concealing it.
As far as arguing against conceal carry, something else as well: statistically, states which adopt CCW laws see a dramatic crime reduction.
In 1999, Michigan’s violent crime rate was 4,324.8 per 100,000 people, compared to Ohio’s 3,996.4. Legislators and citizens were fed up. Amidst howls from gun control extremists, failed court challenges, and veto-threats, Michigan’s state legislature passed a “shall-issue” concealed carry reform bill into law. The state began issuing licenses in the year 2000.
In the first year of widespread licensing, Michigan’s rate dropped to 4,109.9, vs. Ohio’s increase to 4,041.8 per 100,000 people.
In 2001, Michigan’s crime rate dropped below Ohio’s for the first time since modern crime trends have been recorded – down to 4,081.5 per 100,000 people, compared to yet another increase in Ohio – up to 4,177.6.
With the success of Michigan’s concealed carry law apparent even to some former opponents, the state legislature passed a number of liberalizations to that state’s CCW law – making it easier to obtain a license, and to carry a firearm for self-defense in more places. The changes went into effect last July.
The MSNBC.com report, Record numbers now licensed to pack heat, says that in the 1980s and 1990s, Americans were killed by guns at a rate of about 5.66 per 100,000 population, at the time the concealed-carry movement (carrying a handgun or other weapon in public in a concealed manner, either on one’s person or close proximity) began gaining momentum.
In this decade, the gun-homicide rate has fallen to 4.07 per 100,000, which equates to a 28 percent reduction in homicides with the use of firearms.
Between 2008 and 2009, the FBI’s preliminary numbers indicate that murders fell nationally by 10 percent and by about 8 percent in cities that have between 500,000 and 999,999 people. Washington’s population is about 590,000. During that same period of time, murders in the District fell by an astounding 25 percent, dropping from 186 to 140. The city only started allowing its citizens to own handguns for defense again in late 2008.
The 31 states that have “shall issue” laws allowing private citizens to carry concealed weapons have, on average, a 24 percent lower violent crime rate, a 19 percent lower murder rate and a 39 percent lower robbery rate than states that forbid concealed weapons. In fact, the nine states with the lowest violent crime rates are all right-to-carry states. Remarkably, guns are used for self-defense more than 2 million times a year, three to five times the estimated number of violent crimes committed with guns.
An additional woman carrying a concealed handgun reduces the murder rate for women by about 3 to 4 times more than an additional man carrying a concealed handgun reduces the murder rate for men.
According to a study by criminologist Gary Kleck of Florida State University, “[R]obbery and assault victims who used a gun to resist were less likely to be attacked or to suffer an injury than those who used any other methods of self-protection or those who did not resist at all.” In approximately 2.5 million instances each year, someone uses a firearm, predominantly a handgun, for self defense in this nation.
In research sponsored by the U.S. Department of Justice, in which almost 2,000 felons were interviewed, 34% of felons said they had been “scared off, shot at, wounded or captured by an armed victim” and 40% of these criminals admitted that they had been deterred from committing a crime out of fear that the potential victim was armed.
There is a wealth of information available illustrating that conceal carry states see an indisputable decrease in crime when licenses are issued. It’s not “hotly debated,” it’s black and white fact cited in the FBI’s Uniform Crime Reports. These facts aside, the most authoritative document on firearms is the Second Amendment of the U.S. Constitution.
All of this is why it’s so dangerous for individuals like Congresswoman Carolyn McCarthy, who is preparing a strict gun control bill to attempt to legislate away our rights and, for many, means of self defense.
Do you think that conceal carry didn’t impact the Arizona tragedy? One of the individuals on the scene, Joe Zamudio, came running when he heard gunfire and helped hold the suspect down. Geraldo interviewed him. From Brad Kozak:
Geraldo asks Joe what happened. The man replies, “I heard gunshots, I ran outside to help. You know, I was carrying a gun and I would have shot him…I, I almost did.”
“Why didn’t you,” Geraldo asked.
“They’d already had a-hold of him, and there was a lot of people around him, and I wasn’t going to cause any more collateral damage or scare anybody any further than they needed to be scared.” Joe replied. “I felt like I could hold him down and wait for police, and it wasn’t my responsibility to end his life.”
Let’s let that one sink in for a second. He had a gun. He was licensed to carry. He made a split-second evaluation of the situation. He made the right choice. No going all Sly-Rocky-Rambo on the guy. No shooting innocent bystanders. No making the situation worse. Just a responsible citizen, trying to help, and doing the right thing. And here’s the kicker. This guy is all of 24 years old. Just two years older than the whackjob that shot 20 or so people and killed 6.
So we have on the one hand, a crazy person who uses a gun to shoot people indiscriminately. On the other, a responsible citizen who not only chooses to carry a gun legally, but had the good sense NOT to use it, when doing so could have made a tragic situation even worse.
Now I’m sure that those on the left with a hard-on for gun control will see this situation as evidence of “if we banned all the guns, nothing like this could happen…after all, what good did this guy carrying a gun do?” But stop and think. Do you really believe anybody would run toward gunfire if they weren’t armed, and thought they could help?
Zamudio put blowhard Ed Schultz in his place when Schultz questioned him about firearm ownership. 2:25 in so you don’t have to suffer the opining. Zamudio shut Schultz down.
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When the left attacks responsible gun owners, they’re attacking heroes like Zamudio. Criminals will always have access to firearms, that’s why they’re called criminals. They don’t follow laws. As Zamudio succinctly noted, you can create a frillion gun laws but criminals will always have them, period. It’s illogical to punish the majority of gun owners – peaceful, discerning citizens like Zamudio, who says he felt “blessed” that he did not have to take a life that day, even in defense – for the actions of criminals. It’s like punishing all pet owners for the actions of animal abusers.
Joe Zamudio is a hero and a symbol of responsible gun ownership.
Let’s instead focus on awareness in preventing these lone wolf-style attacks in the future. Restricting our ability to defend ourselves is not the way to do it. Attempting to debate the issue before a national audience without being educated on the matter, and misreporting Arizona gun laws only clouds the discourse.