A recent opinion piece in the New York Times about the terrors that will befall America if “concealed carry goes national” has been garnering a lot of attention from the gun world recently.
A number of online pundits have penned rebuttals—including Thomas Sowell at The National Review. Sowell, a Senior Fellow at Stanford University’s Hoover Institution, stands out somewhat. He has degrees from Harvard and Columbia and a Ph.D. from the University of Chicago. He has authored 30 books, has taught at Cornell and UCLA, and is the recipient of the National Humanities Medal.
His piece, entitled “The New York Times’ Fictitious Image of Gun Carriers” takes the notoriously left-leaning newspaper to task, even if the photo accompanying the opinion piece is of a plastic airsoft pistol.
The Times piece rants against proposals to allow law-abiding citizens the right to carry concealed firearms, namely the anticipated National Concealed Carry Reciprocity bill, expected to pass during a Trump presidency. The bill would allow anyone granted the right to carry by their home state to carry legally in any state they travel to, much like a driver’s license allows an American to drive in any state, regardless of which state issued the license.
Currently there is a patchwork of reciprocity agreements throughout the country among individual states with little uniformity or regulation, which can make things confusing for gun owners simply trying to carry legally.
The Times refers to what they call the National Rifle Association’s “fantasy that citizens can stand up to gunmen by shooting it out.”
The rebuttal in The National Review points out one of the main problems with that argument, which is often trotted out by anti-gunners.
“Data collected over many years—but almost never seeing the light of day in the New York Times or the rest of the mainstream media—show many thousands of examples of people defending themselves with a gun each year, without having to pull the trigger,” Sowell writes.
“If someone comes at you with a knife and you pull out a gun, chances are they will stop. The only time I ever pointed a gun at a human being, it was when someone was sneaking up toward me from behind a shed in the middle of the night. I never fired a shot. I just pointed the gun at him and told him to stop. He stopped.
“Actually having to shoot someone is the exception, not the rule. Yet the New York Times conjures up a vision of something like the gunfight at the O.K. Corral.”
The rebuttal goes on to detail the fact that brazen robberies, home invasions, and other physical, violent attacks often occur because the victims are considered easy targets who won’t be able to defend themselves. Proponents of national concealed carry laws say that if such legislation were to pass, criminals would have no way of knowing who is armed and who isn’t at any given time. That little old lady, who would normally be a pushover for a full-grown man, can suddenly be a threat if she has a .380 in her purse.
Sowell puts it this way: “Gun-control laws are in effect occupational-safety laws—OSHA for burglars, muggers, carjackers, and others. The fatal fallacy of gun-control laws in general is the assumption that such laws actually control guns. Criminals who disobey other laws are not likely to be stopped by gun-control laws. What such laws actually do is increase the number of disarmed and defenseless victims.”
The Times tries to use some numbers to back up its assertion that the nation’s estimated 8 million concealed carriers (not accounting for states in which concealed carry comes with state residency like Vermont) by saying “since 2007, concealed-carry permit holders have been responsible for at least 898 deaths not involving self-defense, according to the Violence Policy Center, a gun safety group.”
First, ignore the fact that the statistics cited come from an anti-gun group, not from law enforcement or other unbiased sources. If you break down the numbers, it essentially says CCW permit holders are responsible for 100 “gun deaths” per year. That’s assumedly a combination of accidental shootings, suicides, and actual homicides—though the NYT piece doesn’t say. That’s 100 incidents per year, among a group of more than 8 million. Those are pretty good percentages.
The Times also cites the uptick in mass shootings over the past few years as a compelling reason for more gun control, but fails to address the fact that almost all mass shooters are only stopped when confronted by another person with a gun.
“Mass shooters are often portrayed as ‘irrational’ people engaged in ‘senseless’ acts. But mass shooters are usually rational enough to attack schools, churches, and other places where there is far less likelihood of someone being on the scene who is armed,” Sowell writes. “Seldom do we hear about these ’irrational’ shooters engaging in ‘senseless’ attacks on meetings of the National Rifle Association or a local gun show or National Guard armory.
“The fallacy of believing that the way to reduce shootings is to disarm peaceful people extends from domestic gun-control laws to international disarmament agreements. If disarmament agreements reduced the dangers of war, there would never have been a World War II.”
Sowell goes on to detail how the decades leading up to WWII were filled with international disarmament agreements, which were followed by peaceful countries and ignored by belligerent countries that built up huge war machines, such as in Nazi Germany and Imperial Japan.
“The net result was that the belligerent countries had every incentive to start wars, and that they inflicted devastating losses on the peaceful countries that had drastically curtailed their own military forces…”
He then points to how the same kind of thinking pushed Soviet-American disarmament agreements during the Cold War, but that Ronald Reagan’s buildup of American military forces in the 1980s helped lead to the end of the Cold War without a shot being fired.
“But who reads history these days, or checks facts before leading the charge to keep law-abiding people disarmed?”