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... continued from introducing readers to my proposal to allow unconcealed, unloaded firearms in city parks.
"Firearms are second only to the Constitution in importance; they are the peoples' liberty's teeth." — George Washington
In the book, More Guns, Less Crime, John R. Lott, Jr. provides the most comprehensive study of firearm laws ever conducted. He included in his analysis multiple variables that might affect crime, including income, poverty, unemployment, population density, arrest rates, conviction rates and length of prison sentences.
"Many factors influence crime," Lott writes, "with arrest and conviction rates being the most important. However, nondiscretionary concealed-handgun laws are also important, and they are the most cost-effective means of reducing crime."
Open carry laws reduce violent crime for two reasons. They reduce the number of attempted crimes, because criminals cannot tell which potential victims are armed and can defend themselves. Secondly, national crime victimization surveys show that victims who use firearms to defend themselves are statistically less likely to be injured. In short, carry laws deter crime, because they increase the criminal's risk of doing business.
Lott's research shows that states with the largest increases in gun ownership also have the largest decreases in violent crime. And, it is high-crime urban areas and neighborhoods with large minority populations that experience the greatest reductions in violent crime when law-abiding citizens are allowed to carry handguns.
The benefits of handguns are not limited to those who openly carry them. Others "get a 'free ride' from the crime fighting efforts of their fellow citizens," Lott finds. And the benefits are "not limited to people who share the characteristics of those who carry the guns." The most obvious example of what Lott calls this "halo" effect is "the drop in murders of children following the adoption of nondiscretionary laws. Arming older people not only may provide direct protection to these children, but also causes criminals to leave the area."
Contrary to the picture painted by anti-gun groups, evidence supporting the value of open carry laws and the high standard of conduct among persons who carry firearms lawfully is overwhelming and continues to mount.