Somehow, it is legal in every state in the US to carry a concealed handgun. Up until this week, it was a commonly accepted myth that carrying a hidden gun was less harmful than carrying a visible firearm, and that the incidence of crime fell when there was no weapon in sight. A new study by Texas A&M University has just exposed the fallacy of this assertion. It turns out that -shocker- carrying a concealed weapon does not decrease crime rate. What does increase the crime rate? Having a gun in the first place. There is no safe way to carry a gun; whether it’s concealed or not makes absolutely no difference. These new results just add more evidence to the already extensive demand for tougher restrictions on gun control.
The logic that concealed guns directly relates to a decreased level of shootings has been the false basis of much legalized gun legislation. “A dramatic spike in the number of Americans with permits to carry concealed weapons coincides with an equally stark drop in violent crime,” Fox News wrote last year, citing a study by the Crime Prevention Research Center. It’s time to throw this logic out the window. Research by Texas A&M University dispels the previous data with a county by county analysis in over 500 counties, of the effect of concealed weapons. Their study proves whether a gun is visible or not has no connection with crime. The Crime Prevention Research Center based their findings on before and after concealed-carry legislation, and hence did not get a full picture.
“The idea that concealed handguns lead to less crime is at the center of much firearms legislation, but the science behind that conclusion has been murky,” Texas A&M health sciences professor Charles D. Phillips said in a university release. “This research suggests that the rate at which CHLs (concealed handgun licenses) are issued and crime rates are independent of one another — crime does not drive CHLs; CHLs do not drive crime,” the study states. “What we found when we drilled down to the county level was that the changes in the number of concealed handgun permits in a county had no relationship to either an increase or decrease in the county crime rate,” commented Phillips.
Instead of relying solely on the visibility of a gun as a predictor or indicator of violence, Phillips’ study delves into real drivers such as the economy or policing tactics. By disproving the idea that concealed hand guns create an atmosphere of increased public welfare, gun legislation is going to have to be reevaluated. “These results have some implications for the current policy debates concerning concealed handguns. The logic of relaxing requirements for concealed carry for the purposes of public safety implies that such legislation should reduce crime rates,” Phillips and his team concluded in their findings.
Americans own more than 300 million firearms- almost one gun per person. When you contextualize these figures, it is easy to see why the shooting at Roseburg happened so easily; and why a mass shooting is no longer a rare occurrence. Our society is oversaturated with guns. Up until this week, our legislatures used a surface level study to argue that carrying a weapon is okay, so long as that weapon is not in plain sight. Now that counter-research has rendered this thinking irrelevant, hopefully systemic reasons for violence will be targeted, and the government can finally step in and do away with gun ownership.
Colin Taylor is the editor-in-chief of Occupy Democrats. He graduated from Bennington College with a Bachelor's degree in history and political science. He now focuses on advancing the cause of social justice and equality in America.