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Concealed carry revisited

Rare is the permit holder who commits a crime

By The Mercury

We’re not fans of concealed-carry gun permits, but it’s nevertheless impressive that only 44 of the more than 51,000 Kansans who have been issued permits since 2007 have been charged with a crime while using a firearm.

The figures, from research conducted by the Wichita Eagle, amount to one person charged for every 1,161 concealed-carry permit holders. At least 17 of those charged have been convicted, and as a consequence have had their permits revoked. That’s appropriate. So is the lifetime revocation for permit holders who are convicted of a felony.

We take issue, however, with the assertion by advocates of the permits that permit or license holders are more law-abiding than the general public because they’ve undergone background checks. Tens of thousands of Kansans who have no interest in firearms or concealed carry could pass such checks.

As for the longheld contention that concealed carry deters crime, that remains debatable. Yes, a Derby barber with signs welcoming concealed-carry permit holders and declaring “Criminals Beware!”  told reporters he is convinced the policy deters crime. But as Derby Police Chief Robert Lee, a customer of that barber shop, said, “It may discourage some of the amateurs, but we have banks robbed with guards inside.” And, he added, “I’ve worked cases where we’ve had gun shops robbed where everyone inside has guns.”

If concealed carry and signs such as those at the barber shop deter amateurs, that serves a useful purpose. Armed amateur criminals would seem more likely than professionals to harm themselves, and perhaps others. By the same token, undergoing background checks and passing the course necessary for a concealed carry permit doesn’t elevate a law-abiding citizen from amateur to expert status and render him or her immune from overreacting dangerously in a perceived crisis.

Concealed carry is here to stay. In fact, permit applications have increased; they’re up 24 percent in Kansas in the last year, with more than 12,000 Kansans applying for them between June 2011 and June 2012. That’s probably in part the result of alarm spread by Second Amendment defenders that President Barack Obama’s re-election would mean more gun restrictions and partly out of understandable self-defense concerns.

The Second Amendment is safe — safe enough that its advocates could perform a true public service by recognizing the value of banning assault weapons. As for individuals’ fears of becoming victims of crime, they’re valid, though we suspect often exaggerated. Individuals who acquire concealed carry permits out of fear for their personal safety might feel less threatened, but that doesn’t necessarily make them or people they associate with any safer.

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