In an interview with the University of Chicago, Lott said that states with the largest increases in gun ownership also have the largest drops in violent crimes. Thirty-one states now have such laws -- called "shall-issue" laws. These laws allow adults the right to carry concealed handguns if they do not have a criminal record or a history of significant mental illness.
He noted that criminals are deterred by higher penalties. Just as higher arrest and conviction rates deter crime, so does the risk that someone committing a crime will confront someone able to defend him or herself. He shows that there is a strong negative relationship between the number of law-abiding citizens who have gun permits and the crime rate, noting that as more people obtain permits there is a greater decline in violent crime rates. He adds that for each additional year that a concealed handgun law is in effect the murder rate declines by 3 percent, rape by 2 percent, and robberies by over 2 percent.
Concealed handgun laws reduce violent crime for two reasons. First, they reduce the number of attempted crimes because criminals are uncertain which potential victims can defend themselves. Second, victims who have guns are in a much better position to defend themselves. That's just common sense.
Our Founding Fathers understood the need for an armed citizenry. Thanks to the colonists who were armed, America triumphed over the strongest army in the world. They insisted that their fellow Americans have a right to bear arms in order to guarantee their liberties and safeguard them from those who would deny them the freedom they won on the battlefields of the American Revolution.
We need to be ever vigilant -- there are always those who would trample on our rights as free Americans. As long as we retain the right to self-defense guaranteed by the right to own and bear arms, our freedoms will be secure.
Michael Reagan is the son of President Ronald Reagan, a political consultant, and the author of "The New Reagan Revolution" (St. Martin's Press, 2011). He is the founder and chairman of The Reagan Group and president of The Reagan Legacy Foundation. Visit his website at www.reagan.com, or e-mail comments to Reagan@caglecartoons.com.