Do Conceal Carriers Make Themselves and Others Safe? The Evidence Says No
It is hard to find a more zealous group than conceal carriers. Like George Zimmerman who killed Trayvon Martin in Florida last year, they see “bad guys” everywhere, have a high fear level and flatter themselves that they are keeping themselves and others safe.
Both are fantasies. Two years ago, the TV show 20/20 tested whether carriers could defend themselves against an armed assailant who they knew would storm the room they were in. Even with advance warning none of the carriers stopped the assailant even though some were well trained in firearms. Some carriers came close to injuring themselves and others had the ammo been live. Oops.
On cue, gun zealots cried the 20/20 test conditions were “unfair” as if conditions in real life would be fair and offer perfect conditions for them to demonstrate their conceal carry advantage. Right.
It is obvious conceal and carry does not protect the carriers or stop bad guys unless you consider Trayvon Martin a bad guy. But there is a more deadly side to conceal carry. Since 2007, conceal carriers have been responsible for 494 US civilian deaths, 23 mass shootings and the death of 14 law enforcement officers, according to data compiled by the Violence Policy Institute.
States began loosening conceal carry laws, says the Institute, in 1996 when Tanya Metaksa, executive director of the National Rifle Association's Institute for Legislative Action, told lawmakers “these citizens don't commit violent crimes.”
There was just one problem with her assurance. She was wrong.
A staggering 1,400 people licensed for conceal carry in Florida have pleaded guilty or no contest to felonies, the Gainsville Sun reported upon reviewing records. Two hundred and sixteen had outstanding warrants, 128 had active domestic violence injunctions and six were registered sex offenders. Are these the “good guys”?
In nearly 80 percent of 300 deadly incidents, “the concealed carry killer has already been convicted (126), committed suicide (167), or was killed in the incident (seven),” says the Violence Policy Institute. “Of the 67 cases still pending, the vast majority (55) of concealed carry killers have been charged with criminal homicide, four were deemed incompetent to stand trial, and eight incidents are still under investigation.”
It is hard to believe state legislators would allow a policy that kills their finest. Among the 508 citizens killed by conceal carriers since 2007 are Alabama, police officer Philip Davis, Tampa police veteran Corporal Mike Roberts, US Customs and Border Protection Agent Donald Pettit and Springfield, MA, police officer Kevin Ambrose. Four of the slain officers were killed by white supremacists, an increasingly vocal component of the armed citizens movement.
Incredibly, Jared Lee Loughner who allegedly shot Arizona US Representative Gabrielle Giffords and killed six people in 2011 was a legal conceal carrier because Arizona does not require a permit of any type to carry a concealed handgun outside of the home. Conceal carriers also include the mass shooters Omar Thornton, who killed eight at a beer distributorship in Connecticut in 2010, and Gerardo Regalado who killed four women and wounded three in Florida in 2010. Mass shooter Paul Michael Merhige, who killed his twin sisters, a 76-year-old aunt and a six-year-old cousin at a Thanksgiving dinner in Florida, was also a legal conceal carrier. Thank you NRA. Thank you gun lobby. Let's enforce existing laws!
Commensurate with the bully personality, conceal carriers have a high-fear level and are afraid to go the same places normal, unarmed people go every day. They want to carry in national parks, on trains, near schools and in gun free zones to protect against the omnipresent “bad guys.” Yet, in at least 500 recent shootings, the conceal carriers are the bad guys.
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