Gun prohibitionists work hard day in and day out to make America’s gun owners appear to be nothing but blood-thirsty killers. What’s funny is that they are too obtuse to understand that their attempts virtually always prove the opposite to any reasonable person perusing their propaganda. The Violence Policy Center (VPC) is one of the best examples of this. It openly advocates for a ban on the civilian possession of handguns. This is the one and only thing the group is honest about. A little critical analysis of the VPC information would make most anti-gunners want to stick to their usual playbook and avoid the facts at all costs.
My first experience with the VPC’s unwitting advocacy of concealed-carry reform was when I was serving as the NRA-ILA lobbyist for Wisconsin in the early 2000s. We were working tirelessly to pass a concealed-carry law over the objections of one of the most radically anti-gun governors to have ever served in any state, Jim Doyle. The battle was intense, and it took until 2011 for reason to finally prevail.
During a Senate committee hearing, one of the anti-self-defense senators smugly asked me about a VPC study that showed that 3,370 Texas permit holders had been arrested for crimes. He droned on and on about this being proof that the NRA is wrong when it claims that permit holders throughout the county have proven to be exceptionally responsible and law-abiding. Before he stopped embarrassing himself, he said that real men don’t carry guns and that Madison, the state capitol, is so safe that no one should ever feel a need to carry a loaded handgun for protection.
I knew about the so-called study and had done my homework, so I was able to respond to the unsophisticated senator. A little critical analysis of the VPC information would make most anti-gunners want to stick to their usual playbook and avoid the facts at all costs. After all, they prove that the NRA is right once again—Texas permit holders were proving to be the best of the best citizens.
Here is some perspective I shared with the committee. The 3,370 arrests occurred over more than four years out of a population of permit holders that exceeded 200,000. This works out to be about two arrests a day for any crime, inlcuding traffic offenses. It is worth noting that the senator and the VPC always attempted to suggest the arrests were for violent crimes. Nothing could have been further from the truth.
I asked the committee members to imagine a place called Texas Permit Holder City with a population of nearly a quarter of a million people. Each day in this city, the police were left twiddling their thumbs because they had only two people to arrest for criminal violations, including driving offenses. It would be the safest jurisdiction anywhere.
To drive the point home a little further, I talked about the arrest rate in Madison, since the senator had said it was so free of crime that no one should ever feel the need to carry a firearm. The latest data at the time was from 2004, and it showed that there were 50 arrests a day for all criminal offenses out of a population that was actually slightly less than the number of Texas permit holders contemplated in the VPC report. As predicted by the NRA through the years, permit holders have proven themselves to be one of the most peace-loving populatons to ever exist.
So, citizens in the ultra-safe city of Madison were 25 times more likely to be arrested for committing a crime than the Texans who had been issued a carry permit that the senator and VPC seemed to fear so much. It was about this time that I nodded to the Senator, subtly thanking him for his testimony in favor of the legislation he detested.
It was one of those “here we go again” moments for me as I read a recent Christopher Ingraham article in The Washington Post. He was citing claims from the VPC to try to show that the contention that more people legally carrying concealed handguns enhances public safety “does not hold up to close analysis.” Ingraham is one guy who apparently has no business talking about analysis.
He featured the claim from the VPC that 29 concealed-carry permit holders across the country have committed mass shootings since 2007 (VPC defines these as three or more victims, instead of simply using the FBI’s definition). He writes that “these numbers might add helpful context to the idea that arming more citizens will decrease crime.” I am fairly certain that Ingraham does not understand the meaning of the word “context.” If he did, he would know that one of the first things any “close analysis” would involve is attempting to put the numbers into context.
It’s difficult to describe the true extent of the VPC lie when it talks about the “29” number. One of the most glaring aspects is that it calls them all “concealed-carry killers.” Bob Owens is one person who sheds light on the VPC deception. At most, six of the cases involved a scenario where a concealed handgun carried pursuant to a permit was used. In the other cases, the perpetrator’s handgun permit status had no bearing on the incident whatsoever (long gun used, crime occurred at home, etc.). In these 23 other cases, concealed handgun permit status was no more relevant than whether the perpetrator had a comercial driver license.
The real number of “concealed-carry killers,” therefore, might be six over a period of nearly eight and a half years. Of course, this is less than one per year. A thinking person might ask right about now, “But out of how many total permit holders?” The number today stands at more than 12.8 million across the country.
For purposes of this discusion, I’ll use a conservative average of 9 million permit holders over the 8.5 years since March 2007 when VPC began its sloppy count. In order to show the VPC information for the garbage that it is, I will even generously grant them the full 29 “concealed-carry killers” (which, as we’ve seen, is nearly five times higher than reality) no matter how difficult it is for a person who cares about trying to be precise in his work. The real number of “concealed-carry killers,” therefore, might be six over a period of nearly eight and a half years. Of course, this is less than one per year.
This 9 million is larger than the population of New York City. It is more than three times the size of Chicago’s population. This city, let’s call it America Permit Holder City, would be one of the largest cities on the planet. Now, for the true perspective, analysis and context that the likes of Ingraham don’t want to entertain, imagine a city the size of Chicago having only three “mass” shootings a year. Now imagine a city with a population three times Chicago’s having the same number of these crimes. It would easily be the safest city in the history of the world, period. This safest city is America Permit Holder City.
So the VPC is once again unwittingly doing work for the good guys. They wanted to use the largely manufactured figure of 29 to show that citizens in America who choose to legally carry defensive firearms are unacceptable dangers to society. We should thank them for their distortion because those capable of doing some actual “close analysis” see this could not be further from the truth. There will always be the simpletons or partisans who do their best to propagate the VPC lies, but the rest of us will counter them.
The base truth is that no population is perfect. Teachers, doctors, ministers, police, firefighters, all have killers among them. An extraordinarily small percentage of the nearly 13 million concealed handgun permit holders will prove no different. As predicted by the NRA through the years, permit holders have proven themselves to be one of the most peace-loving populatons to ever exist. The VPC numbers prove the success of the great NRA experiment empowering the individual citizen. But don’t hold your breath waiting for Ingraham’s correction.