Sent to the editor of the Coloradoan 9-12-1999
Published in the Coloradoan 10-21-1999
I am writing in response to Cherie Trine's "Soapbox" column on September 12, 1999 in which she expressed concerns about the safety of allowing some citizens to carry concealed handguns.
Cherie's right. We have a problem: many people do not feel safe around concealed weapons, however, the facts are that people are safer when concealed-carry permits exist. It may seem paradoxical, but the right-to-carry concealed handguns is a significant deterrent to violent crime, and produces no increase in accidental deaths.
John R. Lott and David B. Mustard, from the University of Chicago, studied crime data from all 3,054 counties in the United States from 1977 to 1994 and concluded:
"We find that allowing citizens to carry concealed weapons deters violent crimes, without increasing accidental deaths. If those states without right-to-carry concealed gun provisions had adopted them in 1992, approximately 1,500 murders would have been avoided yearly. Rapes would have declined by over 4,000, robbery by over 11,000, and aggravated assaults by over 60,000."
["Crime, Deterrence, and Right-to-Carry Concealed Handguns", Journal of Legal Studies (v.26, no.1, pages 1-68, January 1997) http://www.lib.uchicago.edu/~llou/guns.html ]
Concealed handgun permits are not issued to anyone with a criminal background, or anyone who has a restraining order against them. Thus concealed carry permits do not allow a "stalking ex-partner" to carry legally, if they are subject to a restraining order.
The last question Cherie asks is, "what is the solution to the problem of criminals and children gaining access to guns?" These problems are not magnified with right-to-carry.
Any family with guns should educate their children about the safe handling, use, and responsibility of firearms.
It is already illegal to sell a firearm to a known criminal, and I would argue that a responsible and law-abiding citizen would not provide guns to anyone of questionable character or intent.
To understand more about the effects of gun-control laws, I suggest the book "More Guns, Less Crime: Understanding Crime and Gun-Control Laws", (John R. Lott, Jr., Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1998, ISBN: 0226493636). Sincerely
Zak Smith Fort Collins