In a recent article, the New York Times editorial board lamented the fact that more law-abiding citizens in this country are opting to carry firearms for self-defense outside the home.
While exact numbers are not known, estimates suggest that upwards of 11 million citizens have valid concealed carry permits. For the NY Times this is a troubling development because it appears it believes licensed permit holders are a threat to public safety.
Where did it come up with this ass-backwards position? Where else but the Violence Policy Center, the rabidly anti-gun think tank that continually spews forth propaganda and manipulated crime data to justify its mission of disarming America.
Citing information the VPC has gathered since 2007, the editorial board writes:
There is no central tally of the effects, with states often barring release of concealed-carry data and Congress hewing to the gun lobby’s opposition to research on guns’ effects on public health. But a methodical gleaning of eight years of news accounts by the Violence Policy Center, a gun safety group, found that in research involving 722 deaths in 544 concealed-carry shootings in 36 states and the District of Columbia, only 16 cases were eventually ruled lawful self-defense — even though this has been a major gun rights selling point for the new laws.
More gravely, the study found that the fatalities included 17 law enforcement officers shot by people with legal permits along with 705 slain civilians. There were 28 mass shootings (involving three or more victims) in which 136 people were killed — even though concealed carry has also been sold as a defense against massacres like the one in Newtown, Conn.
In studying the 544 shootings, the center found 177 cases where people with gun licenses were ultimately convicted of crimes, including homicides, and 218 cases where the permit holder used the gun to commit suicide. There were 44 total lives taken by licensed individuals who first murdered others, then committed suicide.
We know that the VPC, and by extension the NY Times, is bullshitting us because, well, that’s just what they do. But truth be told we have more than just our suspicion to refute their lies, we have have the work of economist John R. Lott Jr., the president of the Crime Prevention Research Center (CPRC) and the author of “More Guns, Less Crime.”
I reached out to Lott about this NY Times editorial. He told me in an email that his organization, the CPRC, is currently drafting a rebuttal (I’ll post a link to it once it’s up on the site). In the meantime, however, he directed me to several articles he wrote that addressed this very issue. One was published by Fox News, the other by the National Review.
In the National Review article, which was published in April of 2014, he was responding to a VPC report called “Concealed Carry Killers,” which no doubt contains much of the same information the NY Times used in its piece. At the end of the article, Lott writes:
All in all, the VPC has managed to triple-count claimed cases of permit holders killing people, and the vast majority of cases it includes in its list — such as legitimate self-defense shootings or suicides not related to permitted concealed handguns — shouldn’t be counted to begin with.
Yet, put aside all these problems for a moment. Assume, for the sake of argument, that the Violence Policy Center’s claim that concealed-handgun permits were responsible for 636 deaths in seven years is correct. One has to note that there are over 11 million concealed-handgun permits in the U.S. right now. With an annual number of deaths of 90, that means 0.00083 percent of concealed-carry permit holders were responsible for a shooting death each year. Removing suicides from the total reduces the rate even more, to 0.00058 percent.
In other words, statistically speaking concealed carry permit holders are not a scourge on society.
What should also be mentioned is that we shouldn’t only emphasize the net negative effect of concealed carry no matter how small that figure is relative to other populations. We need to also emphasize the positive aspects of gun ownership, specifically instances of defensive gun use, in which a good guy with a gun stops a bad guy with a gun (Lott does this in his book, “More Guns, Less Crime”). DGUs are common. More common than one might imagine. While we don’t have a specific tally as it relates to the number of DGUs that CCW permit holders are responsible for in a given year, we do have a general idea of how frequently guns are used by the aggregate gun community to protect lives, property and liberty.
As a CDC Study pointed out in a recent study, “Almost all national survey estimates indicate that defensive gun uses by victims are at least as common as offensive uses by criminals, with estimates of annual uses ranging from about 500,000 to more than 3 million per year, in the context of about 300,000 violent crimes involving firearms in 2008.”
The Times, however, does not wish to dig into the actual numbers. It does not look at the positive effects concealed carry permit holders have on society. It does not but its biases aside and examine the issue with an open mind. Instead it resolutely chooses to disseminate the disinformation of the VPC.
The editorial board concludes:
Whatever the full toll, the policy center’s gathering of just some of the hard facts of gun deaths at the hands of licensed shooters is more than valuable. It should be received as an alarming check on all the swagger about the woeful phenomenon of more citizens packing more guns.