- On Friday, Governor Scott Walker signed a bill that made
Wisconsin the 49th state to allow law-abiding citizens to carry firearms.
Walker had tried to get the bill passed for years while a state legislator,
but his Democratic predecessor, Jim Doyle, and Democrats in the legislature
had stymied those efforts. This time the bill passed with bipartisan support
and allows Wisconsin residents to get permits on a must-issue basis - meaning
that the state cannot deny a permit application without justifiable cause,
such as a felony record:
- In one stroke, the legislation takes Wisconsin from being
one of the final pair of remaining holdouts on concealed carry to having
one of the more permissive bills in the country.
- The proposal, which takes effect Nov. 1, joins other
long-sought measures that Republicans passed this year, including requiring
photo IDs from voters and making health savings accounts tax-exempt.
- Signing the bill in Rothschild, near Wausau, Walker noted
the length of the fight over the legislation, which he had once also supported
as a lawmaker.
- "By signing concealed carry into law today we are
making Wisconsin safer for all responsible, law abiding citizens,"
he said in a statement.
- The measure includes provisions requiring training and
permits, which were sought by both Walker and Democrats. Some Republicans
unsuccessfully pushed "constitutional carry" bills that would
have allowed people to carry concealed guns without permits.
- Protesters shouted about the threat to public safety
facing Wisconsin residents that has been seen in, er, how many carry states?
Zero. In fact, most states see a decrease in crime after the
enactment of such legislation, as Rep. Cliff Stearns noted in 2009:
- Allowing law-abiding people to arm themselves offers
more than piece of mind for those individuals - it pays off for everybody
through lower crime rates. Statistics from the FBI's Uniformed Crime
Report of 2007 show that states with right-to-carry laws have a 30% lower
homicide rate, 46% lower robbery, and 12% lower aggravated assault rate
and a 22% lower overall violent crime rate than do states without such
laws. That is why more and more states have passed right-to-carry
laws over the past decade.
- In 1987, my home state of Florida enacted a "shall
issue" law that has become the model for other states. Anti-gun groups,
politicians and the news media predicted the new law would lead to vigilante
justice and "Wild West" shootouts on every corner.
- But since adopting a concealed carry law Florida's total
violent crime rate has dropped 32% and its homicide rate has dropped 58%.
Floridians, except for criminals, are safer due to this law. And Florida
is not alone. Texas' violent crime rate has dropped 20% and homicide rate
has dropped 31%, since enactment of its 1996 carry law.
- Another study makes the moral case for expanding and
enhancing right-to-carry laws. A report by John Lott, Jr. and David
Mustard of the University of Chicago released in 1996 found "that
allowing citizens to carry concealed weapons deters violent crimes and
it appears to produce no increase in accidental deaths." Further,
the Lott-Mustard study noted, "If those states which did not have
right-to-carry concealed gun provisions had adopted them in 1992, approximately
1,570 murders; 4,177 rapes; and over 60,000 aggravate assaults would have
been avoided yearly."
- Think about it. Nearly 8,000 of our fellow citizens
have died between 1992 and 1996 because of the irrational fear that law-abiding
Americans would abuse their right to self defense. In fact concealed carry
permit holders are more law-abiding than the rest of the public. For example,
Florida, which has issued more carry permits than any state has issued
1.36 million permits, but revoked only 165 (0.01%) due to gun crimes by
- John Lott wrote about the dynamics of self-defense in
his seminal book, More Guns Less Crime, which is in its third edition (and
is available on Kindle now, too). Here in Minnesota, opponents also
warned about the return of the Wild Wild West and blood flowing in the
streets, and the scare tactics turned out to be entirely false.
- That's because going through the training process provides
a sobering douse of cold water on gun owners about the realities of using
a firearm for self-defense. My late friend Joel Rosenberg's excellent
book on the subject Everything You Need to Know About (Legally) Carrying
a Gun in Minnesota and his most recent effort The Carry Book gave an entertainingly
dire warning to those who thought that a carry permit was the same thing
as a Junior Deputy badge.
- Law abiding citizens who seek out and receive the necessary
training to get the permit know exactly the stakes involved, which is why
(besides the fact that they were law-abiding in the first place) these
states don't see increases in crime rates, especially in relation to permit
holders. But having law-abiding citizens carry firearms may be why
criminals suddenly take less interest in victimizing them, which may well
be the reason for the drops in crime seen after adoption of carry-permit
- We'll be celebrating Joel's life and work at the MOB
Day at the Range this Thursday evening, as well as raising funds for his
family. Looks like we can also celebrate the fact that our neighbors
to the east have won the right to protect themselves, too.