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Wednesday’s Irony

By Penny Okamoto, Executive Director of Ceasefire Oregon

This Wednesday, the House Judiciary Committee has scheduled a session to discuss the gun lobby’s prized gift from the Trump Administration: HR 38, a concealed carry reciprocity bill.

The House fails to see the irony of hearing this bill in the aftermath of the Las Vegas massacre, the largest mass shooting in American history. While armed citizens were at the Mandalay Casino venue, they were unable to prevent or stop the slaughter of American citizens. Allowing more people to carry loaded, hidden guns is not stopping the mass shootings in America.

After the two deadliest shootings in American history, Congress should be working to protect Americans from gun violence by strengthening our gun laws, not weakening them.

It’s time for America to acknowledge concealed carry for what it is: a way for the gun lobby to sell more guns in a gun-saturated market.

The following is from Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, “Concealed Carry of Firearms: Facts vs. Fiction:”

What is concealed carry reciprocity?

In both houses of Congress in 2017, bills have been introduced (H.R. 38; S.B. 446) that would mandate “concealed carry reciprocity.” This means that each state would be required to honor a concealed carry permit issued by another state. Currently, each state has its own rules about which carry permits, if any, from other states it will honor. But under concealed carry reciprocity, for example, Maryland – a “may issue” state – would be required to honor a permit granted by the state of Utah – a “shall issue” state which grants permits without discretion, even to out of state residents. Maryland would then have to allow the Utah permit holder to carry a concealed firearm everywhere within Maryland that a local permit holder may carry. In addition, residents from the 12 permitless carry states who may legally possess firearms in their state could legally carry concealed firearms – without obtaining a permit – even in the other 38 states that normally require permits.

The Facts about Concealed Carry Reciprocity and Right-to-Carry (RTC) Laws

1. State Licenses to Carry Concealed Firearms are Not Like Drivers’ Licenses:

While all 50 states have agreed-upon standards for training drivers, the same is not true for training people who carry loaded, hidden guns.

  • Of the 30 right-to-carry (RTC) states, only 7 require permit applicants to complete any kind of training.
  • In 13 of those states, the permit applicants need not demonstrate any hands-on use of a firearm.
  • In 12 states, no permit is required at all.
  • Requirements for hands-on use of a firearm, however, should not be equated with demonstration of proficiency in safe firearm handling.

2. In Right-To-Carry States, Many Persons with Criminal Histories May Legally Carry Concealed Guns

People with convictions for violent misdemeanors which do not fall under domestic violence laws are still permitted to carry loaded, hidden guns.

3. RTC Laws Appear to Increase Violent Crime

The most comprehensive, and arguably most rigorous, study on the effects of RTC laws was recently published by economists John Donohue (Stanford), Abhay Aneja (University of California, Berkeley), and Kyle Weber (Columbia).

  • Donohue and colleagues found that violent crime rates increased with each additional year a RTC law was in place, presumably as more people were carrying guns on their person and in their vehicles.
  • By years 7 through 10 following the adoption of a RTC law, violent crime rates were 11% to 14% higher than predicted had such laws not been in place.
  • After controlling for changes in incarceration rates and the number of police per capita, RTC laws were associated with a 10% higher murder rate 10 years following the adoption of RTC laws.
  • This is consistent with findings from a prior study showing that violent crime increased with each year an RTC law was in place 12 and a recent study that found RTC laws are associated with a 10.6% increase in homicides committed with handguns.
  • RTC Laws Appear to Increase Violent Crime
  • In addition to increasing the risk of legal gun carriers committing assaults with firearms, more guns are being stolen from motor vehicles

4. Civilians Rarely Use Concealed Guns to Defend Themselves from Criminal Victimization

Armed With Reason

5. National Crime Victimization Survey Data Indicate No Clear Safety Benefit to Using a Gun in Defense During a Criminal Attack

David Hemenway and Sara Solnick analyzed criminal victimizations using NCVS data and victims’ actions to thwart those crimes. They found that using a firearm did not alter injury risk during criminal victimization; 4% of victims were injured after they used or attempted to use a firearm in self-defense compared to 4% of victims who were injured after they took other proactive protective measures

6. The Vast Majority of Mass Shootings in the U.S. Do Not Occur in “Gun Free” Zones

There is no evidence that mass shooters target so-called “gun-free” zones, locations in which no one, not even law enforcement, may carry concealed guns.

  • A comprehensive analysis by researcher Louis Klarevas determined that, of 111 mass shootings involving 6 or more victims since 1966, just 18 occurred in a “gun-free” or “gun-restricting” zone (locations where law enforcement or security are permitted to carry concealed guns, but not civilians).
  • Rather than choosing a target because it is perceived to be “gun free,” perpetrators often have some prior connection to the location and/or the victims targeted.

7. The Second Amendment Does Not Prevent States from Regulating Who May Carry a Weapon in Public

In 2008, in a case called District of Columbia v. Heller, the U.S. Supreme Court concluded that the Second Amendment protects an individual’s right to own a handgun in the home, invalidating a Washington D.C. law.

  • But the Court has not yet ruled on whether the Second Amendment protects the right to carry a weapon in public and lower federal courts disagree on this issue.
  • Even if such a right is protected, the Supreme Court has said that the Second Amendment is “not a right to keep and carry any weapon whatsoever in any manner whatsoever and for whatever purpose.”

State laws governing the carrying of concealed firearms in public generally fit into one of the following categories:

  1. Thirty states and the District of Columbia mandate that anyone who may legally own a handgun under that state’s laws and properly applies for a permit, “shall” be issued the permit. These are known as “shall issue” or right-to-carry (RTC) states.
  2. Eight states allow public safety officials to retain some discretion to issue or deny a concealed carry permit. That discretion may be based on factors such as the applicant’s “good character,” demonstrated need to carry a concealed firearm (e.g., because of threats to the person), or a determination that he or she is a “proper person” to be licensed. These are called “may issue” states.
  3. In 12 states, no permit is required to carry a concealed weapon. These are called “permitless states.”

It is estimated that 9 million U.S. adult handgun owners, or about 1 in 4, carry loaded handguns monthly, and 3 million do so every day. Proportionally fewer handgun owners carry concealed handguns in states that allow issuing authorities discretion in granting carry permits.