Concealed weapons carriers commit a large number of gun crimes, something that gun advocates conveniently overlook when they promote the idea of gun carry laws as something that protects the community. The Violence Policy Center, a nonprofit group that advocates for gun control, says that since 2007, they’ve tracked 500 fatal shootings by concealed carry permit holders. Of these, 128 of them were convicted of either manslaughter or homicide, and 36 committed murder-suicides. (Nicas & Jones, 2013) Assuming the bare minimum of 2 people killed in each murder-suicide (which is a certain underestimate, since many don’t just kill themselves and one other person, but their children too or several other people that happen to be around), this means that around half of them used their guns for blatantly illegal purposes.
To put this tragedy in perspective, this is the equivalent of around 8 Sandy Hook school shootings carried out by concealed weapons carriers. But even this paints far too rosy of a picture. The remaining cases are not all true self-defense cases. They are simply killings that authorities declined to prosecute, either because there wasn’t enough evidence or there was no way to verify facts within the loose definitions allowed for self-defense. As we point out elsewhere, at least 9 in 10 cases classified as a defensive homicide are of a dubious nature. (Gelman, 2010) They are cases like George Zimmerman’s shooting of Treyvon Martin, which would have gone down as just another gun defense statistic were it not for Treyvon’s family refusing to let this incident go unnoticed. At best they are situations where a person used lethal force when it wasn’t necessary, but they were able to skirt the consequences because it technically wasn’t illegal (the other person shoved them first, the other person was in their home or on their property, etc.). At worst they are blatant murders that can’t be prosecuted. A gun owner got angry and shot someone, but because the only one still alive to tell the story is the aggressor, they can get away with murder by claiming they fired in self-defense while fearing for their life. (See: Stand Your Ground Laws)
When you further factor this into the equation, it means that only about 1 in 20 concealed weapons carriers used their guns towards any type of legitimate self-defense, whereas the other 19 out of 20 committed unnecessary killings. This amounts to the equivalent of approximately 19 Sandy Hook School shootings between 2007 and 2012, or around 4 per year.
This is why those arguing in favor of gun-carry laws in response to mass shootings are putting forth an utterly foolish argument. Concealed weapons don’t preserve life, they take it away. Mass shootings may get the most attention. They’re blasted over every channel on TV and talked about for weeks, months, and years to come. But they pale in comparison to the silent yet equally tragic flow of gun victims that is taking place on a daily basis. The more people we have carrying weapons around with them everywhere they go, the more of these everyday, lose-my-temper shootings we have. Do these lives mean less simply because they were killed one or two at a time as opposed to many at once?
The numbers don’t lie: If you like the slaughter of innocents, then you should be in favor of gun-carry laws. You’ll want more people carrying concealed weapons. If, however, you despise murder and actually value human life, there’s little reasonable choice but to be fiercely opposed to the expansion of gun carry laws.