- The Enterprise
- The Recorder
Korey Smith’s letter in the Nov. 23 Enterprise provided a reference (GAO Report 12-717) that analyzed concealed-carry permit requirements in the United States. It only shows, as the report states, “The number of states allowing concealed carry permits is increasing, and states broadly differ in eligibility requirements and the extent to which they have reciprocity agreements.” This simply demonstrates the different results of various ambiguous statistical arguments and confusion about the topic of concealed-carry licensing requirements.
“Accidental gun deaths” data are not related to the hazards of increased concealed-carry in Maryland, unless you consider a gunfight in a public place an accident.
I have searched for sources of data on gun injuries and the effectiveness of different gun laws. I found plenty of data, but also plenty of ambiguity and confusion. For example, a Jan. 13, 2011, article by Richard Florida in the Atlantic magazine at www.theatlantic.com/national/archive/2011/01/the-geography-of-gun-deaths/69354/ found (among many other factors) a high correlation of assault weapons bans to lower gun death rates, but also found a high correlation of votes for John McCain in the 2008 presidential election and poverty levels to higher gun death rates. The author properly notes that “correlation” does not mean “causation.” There certainly shouldn’t be any policy decisions made on such things, but they are interesting, you must admit.
I also found some interesting but inconclusive data and graphics in a related article used as a source by Mr. Florida: www.statehealthfacts.org/comparemaptable.jsp?ind=113&cat=2 shows clearly that Virginia and Maryland, neighboring states that have remarkably different laws on gun purchasing/ownership and carry, have nearly identical rates of death from injury by firearms (Maryland 10.2 per 100,000, Virginia 10.4 per 100,000). Does this mean that Virginia’s looser laws emphasizing an armed citizenry are only slightly less effective or that Maryland’s more restrictive laws are only slightly more effective in preventing gun deaths? Take your pick. The correlations with other states is even more confusing. Note that this is not correlation between gun laws and crime rates.
I couldn’t find any specific data or analysis of relationships between concealed-carry requirements and gun injuries or crime rates. I assume that there are some articles on this topic, but I’m sure that the results would be just as ambiguous as those in the Atlantic article.
The Maryland concealed-carry requirements question then becomes an emotional one. I would phrase the question as: “If you and your family are in a public place, surrounded by an unknown number of strangers who are carrying loaded guns, would you be more comfortable if you knew that (a) they were licensed to carry them and (b) to get and renew the license they had demonstrated at least a minimal capability to fire them safely and accurately?” That is no more emotional or illogical than the statement “I need to carry a gun everywhere I go to protect myself.”
We are facing a change in the weapons-carrying status of many Maryland citizens. No one has established a need, other than a legal decision, for this change. I think it is sensible to place some minimal requirements, in the interests of public safety, on the citizens who decide to exercise their rights. You may think that any restriction of those rights is untenable.
Enough said. Let’s leave future discussions of this topic up to our elected state officials and police officials, who are the ones actually responsible for the detailed analysis and debate to determine if there is something that really should be done and, if so, what and how will it be enforced. I hope they do, I think it’s worth their effort.
Harry Childers, Lexington Park