New Illinois Concealed Carry Gun Law Increases Public Safety. Gun politics as usual, anti-gun politicians like Gov. Pat Quinn say new law endangers public safety. But that is exactly contrary to the academic research on the matter.When Illinois passed a law to allow law-abiding citizens to carry concealed handguns, it became the last state in the union to do so. Illinois previously allowed no handguns outside the home, but the courts ruled this violated the Second Amendment, and gave the state legislature until July 9 to change their law before the old was repealed. In the land that made the phrase “Chicago politics” infamous, the stakes – and grandstanding – were high. A version of the bill was originally sent on to Governor Pat Quinn, who threatened veto and sent the bill back with suggested changes. The changes were all but ignored and the legislature passed the bill (found here) with a two-thirds majority anyway.
Governor Quinn called the vote “extremely disappointing,” saying it “will lead to tragedy” and that “public safety should never be compromised or negotiated away.” He accused the legislature of “surrender[ing] to the National Rifle Association.” But who’s playing politics? Does Gov Quinn have a point, or is he patently wrong? Based on academic research from criminologists, Governor Quinn is wrong. His suppositions of what endangers people run exactly contrary to research. There is no reason to believe that the overridden suggestions or allowing citizens to carry guns threatens public safety; in fact, quite the opposite.
Governor Quinn’s rejected proposals included inserting limits on the ammunition capacity of gun magazines, restoring the right of local governments to enact restrictions and prohibiting firearms in bars or restaurants that sell any alcohol. The law still restricts carrying guns at restaurants or bars that with 50% or higher percentage of sales from alcohol and many public places, including public transit, schools, libraries and parks. Based on the research, the restrictions as they were passed, are what endangers people.
Illinois citizens still must wait an additional 9 months – 6 months for the state to set up to begin receiving applications for permits and another 3 months once they start receiving them – before they can legally carry. But the homicide rate in gun-less Illinois surpasses the national rate. According to the FBI, the U.S. has a national homicide rate of 4.7 per 100,000 people. Illinois has a homicide rate of 6.4 per 100,000 or 136% of the national rate. There were 599 officially FBI-reported homicides and non-negligent manslaughters in the Chicago Metropolitan Statistical Area (MSA) in 2011, with the estimated total coming in at 609. The Chicago MSA makes up the vast majority of murders in the state, but doesn’t account for 100% of them. Firearms and handguns in particular were involved with the vast majority of murders, even though they are illegal. Illinois public safety is already “compromised.”
Which leads us to a basic question: do gun restrictions make the public more safe or less safe? Put another way, does allowing otherwise law-abiding citizens to carry guns jeopardize public safety? Though politicians like Governor Quinn makes politics out of their answers, the academic research is much more straightforward. A 2007 published study in Harvard Journal of Law and Public Policy by professors Don Kates and Gary Mauser answers emphatically, ‘No, allowing otherwise law-abiding citizens to carry guns does not endanger society.’ They examine cross-nationally among 36 nations including many developed European nations and the United States, as well as examining within the United States, state-to-state, county-by-county, and over historical time periods. They conclude that higher gun control is consistently associated with higher levels of violent crime and homicide and low gun restrictions are associated with lower levels of violent crime and less murder, noting “Whether viewed as a cause or coincidental, the long-term macrocosmic evidence is that gun ownership spread widely throughout societies consistently correlate with stable or declining murder rates” (p.673).
They further state: “Laws whose effect is to reduce gun ownership by law-abiding citizens – the ones who obey gun laws – are futile because these laws do not reduce violence or murder” (p.672). The reason is that average, otherwise law-abiding people do not commit murder. Professors Kates and Mauser go as far as to say this is an axiom to criminologists, the culmination of virtually every study since at least the 1890s. Adult murderers have adult criminal records 90% of the time, and usually have multiple contacts with the justice system; and minors typically have significant contact with the system. Even homicides within the home are usually the product of increasingly violent behavior and prior restraining orders and police contacts before a murder occurs. In other words, average people don’t suddenly become homicidal simply because they have a gun. Laws intended to prevent crime by keeping all citizen from having guns are useless because crime is committed by criminals with history of doing so. They state: “In any event, studies analyzing acquaintance homicide suggest there is no reason for law prohibiting gun possession by ordinary, law-abiding responsible adults, because such people virtually never murder… disarming them becomes not just unproductive, but counter-productive” (p. 670 emphasis added). They also indicate studies in the U.S. indicate substantial evidence that widespread gun possession decreases crime.
If anything, the final provisions that prohibit law-abiding citizens from carrying guns on public transit and libraries are likely counter-productive. However, the freedom of Illinois citizens to finally carry guns does not “compromise public safety”, as Governor Quinn suggests; the research shows it increases safety.
By Matt MacBradaigh. Matt is a Christian, Husband, Father, Patriot, and Conservative from the Pacific Northwest. Matt writes about the Second Amendment, Gun Control, Gun Rights, and Gun Policy issues and is published on The Bell Towers, The Brenner Brief, PolicyMic. TavernKeepers, and Vocativ.
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