Concealed Carry Laws: A Convenient Fantasy

California Governor Gavin Newsom and his associates have been campaigning lately for Senate Bill 2, a bill which would further strengthen the state’s already excessive concealed carry laws. Among the more notable provisions are the creation of more “gun-free zones” and a drastic increase in requirements for obtaining a concealed handgun permit. Elected officials in other states have also pushed for harsher concealed carry laws, ostensibly in the interest of public safety, and condemned the growing constitutional carry movement. As usual, the people pushing for more gun control are tilting at windmills and perpetuating a cycle of bad laws that unfairly punish honest people while doing little to stop criminals.

Laws restricting concealed carry generally attempt to do so by establishing a permitting system and designating certain places as off-limits even for permit holders. None of this is news to anyone who has done even the most basic research into his or her local gun laws. Law-abiding gun owners like us generally take care to practice proper safety procedures at all times and ensure we have sufficient training to use our firearms safely and effectively. Therein lies the problem with laws attempting to impose mandatory training requirements—they target the wrong people.

Most firearm homicides are committed by repeat offenders who obtained their murder weapons illegally; the overwhelming majority of firearm homicides (more than 90%) occur in so-called “gun-free zones.” These facts alone clearly demonstrate that criminals not only willfully flout the law, but even go out of their way to attack soft targets in places they know law-abiding citizens are less likely to be armed. The fact that criminals already ignore concealed carry laws puts the rest of us in a difficult position. In states with permitting systems, we are required to spend hundreds or even thousands of dollars of our hard-earned money and wait weeks or even months to obtain a piece of paper that tells us we’re allowed to have the means to defend ourselves in public. Someone who actually wants to hurt people, meanwhile, simply has to stuff a handgun in a waistband or a pocket and go rob the local convenience store.

Anti-gun public figures like to paint a picture that any relaxation of concealed carry laws will inevitably turn the state in question into a lawless wasteland like something out of a spaghetti western or an ‘80s apocalypse flick. The people who build this narrative need to put down the television remote and come back to reality. As stated above, most people who commit crimes with firearms are repeat offenders who already ignore concealed carry laws. The anti-gun Violence Policy Center runs a website solely dedicated to tracking deaths in which concealed carry permit holders are involved. They VPC chooses to distort the data by including suicides, which account for more than half of their total of 2,240 deaths, but even using that number, their statistics disprove their own thesis. Considering how many millions of people hold permits in the United States, permitted concealed carriers actually commit homicides at a much lower rate than the general population.

The fact of the matter is that concealed carry laws cannot stop criminals because it requires no effort at all to violate them. Concealed handgun permits and gun-free zone signs are, practically speaking, not worth the paper and ink it takes to print them. The longer it takes for anti-gunners to realize this, the worse off we will all be, as the cycle of repressive but ineffective gun laws will continue as it has for decades. Politicians and other public figures who insist on backing these types of bills must be pushed to instead support policies that are proven to curb violent crime, instead of punishing those of us who simply wish to have the means to defend ourselves.