Steve Chapman

What is extremely rare is a homicide committed by a permit holder in a public place in a fit of anger. Reviewing an earlier two-year database compiled by VPC, Kleck found only five cases "where possession of a carry permit may have contributed to the occurrence of the killing." Such episodes are not quite flying pigs, but almost.

What the gun control groups don't tabulate is how many homicides have been averted by a licensed, concealed handgun. Kleck, who has done extensive research on the topic, says it is "quite reasonable to expect that thousands of lives are saved by defensive gun use by persons who carried guns in public places." Even if he's wrong, it would take only a handful of such incidents to offset the homicides "caused" by concealed-carry laws.

The problem for opponents is that they have sown fear from the beginning, only to harvest a meager crop. A generation ago, few states allowed concealed-carry. When Florida captured national attention by legalizing it in 1987, critics forecast mass carnage. When other states followed suit, the same predictions were heard.

But they turned out to be false alarms. Instead of an epidemic of violence, the nation saw a drop. Since 1991, the murder rate has been cut nearly in half. You don't have to believe that "shall-issue" laws caused the decline to grasp that they certainly didn't get in the way.

The record of the past two decades demonstrates that you can strengthen the right of law-abiding adults to protect themselves against crime without making the world more dangerous. That knowledge is helpful in Illinois, to those willing to learn from experience.

 


Steve Chapman

Steve Chapman is a columnist and editorial writer for the Chicago Tribune.
 

 
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