Tuesday, November 01, 2011
Smile when you say that
Wisconsin became the 49th state to permit concealed carry today and Eugene Kane is one frightened fellow. He's going to have to tread lightly because who knows when a casual encounter might lead to gun play? He's worried it's going to be like the OK Corral out there. Given the ways in which people get worked up over what they read in the paper, he is thankful that Journal Sentinel won't allow guns on its premises. I do suppose that anyone who is hell bent on busting a cap in a newspaper columnist will be deterred by the fact that guns aren't allowed on the premises. That's all to be expected. I could have read that column without him having to write it. But the interesting thing is that he refutes himself without appearing to have recognized. Mr. Kane allows how he has traveled to other states that permit concealed carry (that would be everyone other than Illinois) and "most times" (I suspect it's more like all times) doesn't "think about it." This is, he says, because the fact that other people may be carrying does not give him an added sense of security. But, if he doesn't think about it, there is something else that the laws in those states aren't giving him either - a heightened sense of apprehension. And they shouldn't. Kane writes that "[p]ro-gun advocates insist concealed carry laws lead to a decrease in crime, but statistics don't bear that out in any discernible way." That sentence proves more than he wants it to. Some scholars claim that concealed carry reduces crime. Others attack studies that purport to show that criticizing their methodology. So he could be right. We don't know if concealed carry reduces gun crime. But there is precious little evidence that even suggests an. A few years ago, at Marquette, I moderated a debate between John Lott, author of a book called More Guns, Less Crime and an Richard Withers, who used to run a handgun violence center at the Medical College of Wisconsin and is anadvocate of handgun control. They agreed about little. But the one they thing that they agreed upon is that concealed carry cannot be shown to lead to increases in gun crime. I am aware of a few people who argue that there may be a modest negative impact, but it is pretty hard to say that concealed carry has, as Kane would put it, a discernible effect on crime. The spontaneous shootouts that Kane fears don't happen. So he can relax.