Debate Against Concealed Weapons

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Resolved: Concealed weapon laws should be repealed.

Concealed carry is the right to carry a handgun or other weapon in a concealed manner and the current concealed weapon laws vary from state to state. Carrying-concealed-weapons (CCW) laws have nothing to do with private firearms ownership in the home. They relate solely to allowing individuals to carry their concealed guns almost anywhere in the community. Currently, 48 U.S. states have some form of concealed weapon law. In 39 of these states, issuing officials may not arbitrarily deny a permit application if the applicant has no criminal background and some states require a very minimal training program. These types of laws have come to be known as "shall issues" and they must be abolished. In two states, Vermont and Alaska, the "shall issue" laws are so weak that any non-felon who has reached the age of 16 or 21 respectively can carry a concealed weapon without a permit or training of any kind.

Those who favor concealed weapon laws often cite the faulty work of economist John Lott which claims that concealed weapons reduce the amount of crime. However, several eminent criminologists have published peer-reviewed studies rejecting this flawed research, most notably Stanford University law professor John Donohue and Ian Ayres, a law professor at Yale University. Donohue said right-to-carry laws may deter violent crimes, such as murder or robbery, in some situations, while encouraging them in others. For example, he said, an attacker may wrestle control of a handgun away from his victim, who may be less experienced in handling firearms, and use it against the victim. Also, otherwise law-abiding citizens may become "emboldened to do bad things, some of them violent" in the heat of the moment. More guns = more crime - or at least a much smaller reduction in the crime rate. A 1999 study by the Brady Center to Prevent Gun Violence, using FBI crime statistics, demonstrated that concealed weapon laws may have an adverse effect on a state's crime rate. Between 1992 and 1998, the violent crime rate in states which kept strict concealed weapon laws fell by an average of 30%. The violent crime rate for the states that had weak concealed weapon laws during this same time saw their violent crime rates drop by only 15%. Nationally, violent crime declined by 25% during that same period. Clearly, states with stricter Concealed Carry laws have found more effective ways to reduce their crime rates than letting more people carry hidden handguns This same study found that violent crime actually rose in 3 of 11 states (27%) that relaxed Concealed Carry laws prior to 1992 over the six following years, compared to a similar rise in violent crime in only 4 of 22 states (18%) which had restrictive concealed weapon laws or did not permit the carrying of concealed weapons at all. Additionally, the robbery rate also fell faster in states with strict carry laws. The study found that between 1992 and 1998, the robbery rate in strict and no issue states fell 44% while the robbery rate for the states that liberalized carry laws prior to 1992 dropped 24%. Nationally, the robbery rate fell 37%.

Law-abiding citizens with the best intentions underestimate how hard it is to use a gun for self-defense successfully. Even highly-trained police officers lose control of their handguns; according to the FBI, 5 out of 41 law enforcement officers (12%) killed by gunfire in the line of duty in 1999 were killed by an adversary with the officer's own service weapon. And police officers know that the very sight of a gun can escalate a situation, so that instead of simply losing your wallet, you can lose your life. That's why almost every major law enforcement organization - including the International Brotherhood of Police Officers and the International Association of Chiefs of Police - opposes Concealed weapon laws. Supporters of concealed weapons claim that only law-abiding citizens get concealed weapon...
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