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Part II: Protected By the Good Lord And a Gun

Open carry laws reduce violent crime.

Editor's Note: Since publication of this piece, Patch has learned that many of the. The post remains on our site for reference and news purposes. 

... 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.

This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.

Adam July 14, 2011 at 08:44 PM
HI Derek, One problem with this particular issue is that both sides claim all kinds of supporting statistics, and unfortunately in a very short time, I was able to find quite a bit of information that would indicate an increased number of households owning guns leads to increased gun violence. As far as responsible conduct from law abiding gun owners; one statistic that keeps popping up on any statistical research, is that approximately 55% of all gun related deaths are from suicide. Also a large portion of listed homicides with guns involved actually occurred within the domiciles where the gun was owned. Other statistics I discovered was that a large percentage of actual gun violence was criminal to criminal (especially drug dealers). The main issue I have is that it seems we are trying to solve a problem that does not exist. We should be focusing on finances, infrastructure, business development, and yes public safety. As a society, we have supposedly progressed to the point where there should not be the need for the general public to arm themselves in public.
Adam July 14, 2011 at 08:44 PM
Too many statistics are being thrown around these days regarding the supposed need to carry a gun. Recently I heard comments that because of the danger from coyotes, bobcats and mountain lions in the open space, the need to be armed was important. In reality, there have been a total of 88 non-fatal mountain lion attacks and 20 fatalities in the last 110 years in the U.S. and Canada. So the idea that we need to arm ourselves is not supported. Actually more people get struck by lightning in the U.S. annually (approximately 300 struck, with around 10% fatalities), than have been attacked in the past 110 years by mountain lions. More than 4 million people get bit by dogs annually in the U.S., and more than 6000,000 people worldwide get killed by horses. One could easily take these statistics and make a case that dogs and horses should be banned from all cities. Of course, that would be ridiculous; but it demonstrates the point that anyone can find any set of statistics to support their position. I just think we need to keep things in perspective when discussing this issue.
Adam July 14, 2011 at 08:45 PM
Lastly.....the rules pertaining to weapons in parks and open space areas in SJC, mirror the county ordinances; and are not a constitutional violation. Life is full of restrictions, and in a civilized society; we do live with many rules. You cannot carry a weapon into a Federal building, and even an on-duty peace officer cannot come within 100 feet of a polling place with their firearm. These are not unconstitutional restrictions. Not being allowed to carry a firearm in a park does not infringe on someone’s right to own a firearm. I'm just really concerned that our city will be taking on a battle that will now challenge the county's position and open an unnecessary can of worms. I definitely support the right to own firearms, but do not see the need to carry them everywhere. Parks are places for families to enjoy the outdoors. I would hope that we would stay focused on truly relevant issues in our city. Just some thoughts.
Adam July 14, 2011 at 08:48 PM
Sorry...miss-type on the horse number. Approximately 600,000 people annually are killed by horses. Again...I'm not saying horses are dangerous, just pointing out that statistics do not support the need for guns in parks in our city.

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