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I often hear/read an argument for firearms that doesn't hold water. It is made by our camp, and while I agree with the conclusions, I don't think the argument supports them.

The statement is that crime is higher in places where guns are outlawed (D.C., Chicago, etc.) and lower in places where guns are allowed (Utah, Idaho, etc.). This is a statement of fact, and is only the foundation of the argument. It is the next step that bothers me -- that because of the fact stated that guns decrease crime. In other words, people use the idea that Chicago outlawing guns and Utah supporting guns causes more or less crime. While I do think this is true, the fact alone does not logically prove causality.

The reason it doesn't hold is D.C. and Utah are two very different places. D.C. is inherently more prone to crime than Utah is (for many reasons). Firearms are only one piece of a very large pie of reasons. It could very well be that D.C. might even have more crime if it allowed lawful firearms. It could be that allowing firearms in D.C. will decrease crime. The point is that comparing it to the way things are in Utah is a pretty weak argument.

This is no different than comparing the sales at a McDonalds in D.C. with sales at a McDonalds in Utah. One of them might be in a high traffic area, one might be in a low traffic area. One might be very well run, one might be terribly run and horribly dirty. One might be on a freeway, one might be in a mall. One might say that the D.C. McDonalds has higher sales because it gives better coupons, but so many other things are varying that the argument doesn't hold. To know if one thing causes another, you have to hold all else constant (as much as possible), show that one precedes the other in time, etc.

The better comparison is to show that D.C. has higher crime than Virginia -- right across the river. If the two are very similar places (which I think they are), and that part of Virginia has lower crime than D.C., then the argument is more solid. Firearms--being one of the primary differences--are a likely cause of the difference. An even better study would be to watch crime in D.C. when they are allowed again. It's a great longitudinal study.

I DO believe that firearms in the good guy's hands (i.e. general population) decrease crime. We have some great data supporting our position. I just get tired of hearing an argument from our camp that is logically flawed when so many better arguments are there.

/rant
 

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I've frequently made this point in discussions on this and other gun-related fora.

I think that rolling back the gun ban in DC will be a great test, if it happens, but I think there is already a body of evidence that lends at least some support to the notion that increasing the number of guns in law-abiding hands decreases crime. That body is the history of CCW permit issuance in the United States. 20 years ago, there were vanishingly few CCW permits and correspondingly-few regular people carrying on a daily basis. In 1987, Florida became the first shall-issue state, and the shall-issue approach rolled across the country over a period of about 15 years afterwards.

It's reasonable to assume that a dramatic increase in the number of law-abiding citizens that can carry legally results in a corresponding increase in the number carrying. Not all permit holders carry, of course; in fact most don't. Still, since very few of these people would have carried before the permits became available, there has to have been a huge increase.

Accompanying that increase was a significant decline in violent crime. Unfortunately, it is a little bit difficult to separate the proportion of the reduction that was due to increased civilian carry from other causes, particularly since violent crime in the US has been trending downward for 40 years. Overall, though, it seems pretty clear that shall-issue laws have caused an acceleration in the rate of decrease in many areas of the country.

I think that lends a lot of support to the argument.
 

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swillden said:
In 1987, Florida became the first shall-issue state, and the shall-issue approach rolled across the country over a period of about 15 years afterwards.
Are you sure about that?

The History of Concealed Carry
by Larry Arnold, [email protected]

In the United States the history of modern concealed carry started with Georgia. In 1976 that state's governor, Zell Miller, introduced what became the model for later laws. His effort was inspired by an NRA director and former border patrolman, Ed Topmiller. The heart of the law was that the job of administering the shall issue permit process was given to a non-law enforcement, elected official.

Georgia joined a handfull of other states allowing concealed carry, including Vermont, where no license is required; New Hampshire, with a 1923 law; Washington, which made issuance almost mandatory in 1961; and Connecticut, where in 1969 a Handgun Review Board was established to minimize arbitrary denials.

The Indiana Sportsmens Council, assisted by the NRA-ILA, passed a mandatory issuance law in 1980, then had to sue the state police and other agencies and elected officials into compliance.

A trend started, with CHL laws passed in Indiana, 1980; Maine and North Dakota, 1985; and South Dakota, 1986.

The national media ignored these until 1987, when Marion Hammer tackled Florida.
http://www.txchia.org/history.htm

Washington State adopted the Uniform Pistol & Revolver Act in 1935. In 1961, Washington State departed from the discretionary permit system, and required that if the applicant for a concealed weapon permit was allowed to possess a handgun under Washington law, the permit had to be issued.
http://www.davekopel.com/2A/LawRev/ShallIssue.htm#c6
 

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Car Knocker said:
A trend started, with CHL laws passed in Indiana, 1980; Maine and North Dakota, 1985; and South Dakota, 1986.

The national media ignored these until 1987, when Marion Hammer tackled Florida.
I stand corrected. The trend started earlier than I thought.
 

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While I agree that D.C. and Utah are two different places, that isn't enough in my mind to say that more guns in the hands of law abiding citizens doesn't reduce the chance of crime. I have seen many interviews with criminals in prison that say they prefer an unarmed person. Why do all the "mass cowards" (mass shootings) occur in gun free zones? Simply because they don't want a fire fight. They want to kill as many people as they can. If there were not any gun free zones what would happen? I don't know but my best guess is they would be hard pressed to find a place where there intended victims would not shoot back. Well I guess my point is that you can say apples and oranges but they are still fruit. I hope that the D.C. ban gets lifted because I would like to see the theory we are discussing tested. I think that if the criminal knew that there was a possibility that the house he was breaking into had a "functioning handgun." he may think twice.
 

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I really REALLY doubt any of us are going to disagree with the theory that "guns in the hands of law abiding citizens reduce crime".

I think the point of the original post is (or at least what I got out of it): The argument that there is less crime in Utah/Idaho than Washington D.C. because there are more guns in Utah/Idaho is flawed, and we really should use something better to support our position.

I agree with that premise. Do I believe more guns reduces crime? Absolutely. If criminals know many people are carrying concealed, they will think twice about attacking someone for fear of getting shot. If they know no law abiding citizen can have a gun, their career just got much easier and their day just got better. Seems like common sense.

Using statistics which may or may not have anything to do with that theory isn't helpful, and in fact may make us look like we're grasping for a good argument - because we don't have one.
 

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This is all the logic you should need:


 

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mchlwise said:
Using statistics which may or may not have anything to do with that theory isn't helpful, and in fact may make us look like we're grasping for a good argument - because we don't have one.
I agree.

Though, using these kinds of statistics (IMHO) isn't totally out of line, they need to be backed up with stronger stats and arguments, not left to stand on their own. In other words, they shouldn't be one's "proof", but merely "and these stats are interesting to think about". In a presentation I did last semester on RKBA I pointed out that people on both sides of this aisle use stats to prove their case... why can both do that and make a solid case??? Because the U.S. is huge and diverse and 50 years is a long time-span. It's just too big of an issue at that level to be able to quote stats reliably. Using stats is BETTER when more equal comparisons are made.

Having said that, I do think there is an argument that using the DC vs. Utah stats can demonstrate. I admit I have not delved into this very much and some are likely to think I'm wrong or question my basis. This is just a theory that has popped into my head over the last several months. But to me it seems that places like DC are so messed up in comparison to places like Utah not b/c of our gun laws, per-se, but b/c of the way we think here. Here we are taught to be more self-reliant. I really think this instills in us a totally different mind-set that LEADS TO lower crime and more responsibility (hence, more law-abiding armed citizens).

Careful, though, I'm not arguing DC should have gun control laws b/c they "don't think right". I'm arguing that laws SUCH AS RKBA promotes the responsible mind-set.
 
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