Op-Ed

Concealed Carry Hasn’t Prevented Crime

Aggravated assault with guns has risen 43% since concealed carry legalized.

By - Oct 10th, 2016 12:48 pm
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Crime Scene Tape

Crime Scene Tape

In July of this year, I criticized Attorney General Brad Schimel for insisting that Wisconsin was safer because of concealed carry becoming law in 2011.

“Hundreds of thousands of Wisconsinites hold a concealed carry license, making our state a safer place to live, work, and raise a family,” he said then.

I pointed out that his assumption was flawed — the state wasn’t safer under the recent years of concealed carry. FBI data for the years 2011-2014 showed that violent crime and murder went up, and preliminary data from 2015 showed it went up dramatically.

Concealed carry, when it was being debated on in the state legislature, was sold based on the idea that it would prevent crime from happening. If a criminal couldn’t be sure that a law-abiding citizen was carrying a gun or not, surely that criminal would be less likely to try and commit a crime.

In other words, it wasn’t just self-defense that justified concealed carry, but it was also deterrence of crime. Indeed, in signing the bill into law Gov. Scott Walker promised that the state would be safer for it.

Last month the FBI released the updated numbers for crime in the United States for the year 2015. My numbers from July of this year came from the Wisconsin Department of Justice, and were preliminary estimates. These new FBI numbers are considered more reliable, and are better to compare with previous years’ data.

New data suggests crime went up even more than we initially thought

What new information have we found? The new data shows that the estimates examined in my post from July were actually conservative. Violent crime, murder and gun crime trended worse than what I reported back then.

In the years prior to concealed carry getting passed into law, crime in the state was already trending lower year-after-year. From 2008 to 2011 (the law was enacted at the end of that year), the rate of aggravated assaults where a gun was involved in the incident dropped by 72 percent, from 35.8 incidents per 100,000 citizens to 27.4 incidents per 100,000.

From 2011 onward that rate went back up — dramatically. Aggravated assaults involving a gun went up by 87.3 percent, from the 2011 rate of 27.4 per 100,000 citizens to a rate of 51.3 per 100,000 in 2015.

Overall, from 2008 to 2015 aggravated assaults that involved a gun went up by 43 percent. All of the rise in that rate during that time period, however, can be attributed to the years after the concealed carry law was passed.

Violent crime (in general) in Wisconsin has never been this high since the time records were kept by the FBI. In 2011, when concealed carry was passed, violent crime stood at 236 incidents per 100,000. In 2015, it went up to 305 per 100,000. That’s a 29 percent rate increase in violent crime since concealed carry became law.

Deflating the “it’s only in Milwaukee” argument

There are some who will see these statistics, scoff at them and say, “It’s only in Milwaukee.” Indeed, crime did go up from 2011 to 2015 in our state’s largest city. But making that statement perpetuates the belief that Milwaukee is somehow “cut off” from the rest of the state. Many across Wisconsin simply choose to ignore Milwaukee, and view it as a hindrance, when it’s just as much a part of the state as any other community. The safety of that city should matter to the rest of the state.

But another problem with the “it’s only Milwaukee” statement is that it’s NOT just Milwaukee. Violent crime across non-metropolitan counties has also gone up. From 2011 to 2015 violent crime in these counties went up by 18.8 percent. Murders went up by 172 percent.

In all, from 2011 to 2015 murders in Milwaukee increased by 69 percent. In communities outside of Milwaukee murders went up by 84 percent.

Put another way, for every 10 murders in 2011 that occurred outside of Milwaukee, there were 17 that occurred inside the state’s largest city. In 2015, that gap decreased: for every 10 murders outside of Milwaukee, the number that occurred in the city dropped down to 14.

Concealed carry didn’t deter crime

Following my blog post in July, I was invited to speak on the Joy Cardin show on Wisconsin Public Radio. I reiterated the points I made on my blog at that time:

[Chris] Walker points to 2011, when the concealed carry law was passed. In the three years leading up to 2011, crime was going down, he said. But in the following years, the crime rate starts to go up.

“Now, whether that’s a correlation or not is up for debate,” he said. “Whether the rise in crime happened or not, I don’t think is up for debate. I don’t think that we can say that concealed carry succeeded in making us a safer state,” he said.

It’d be unfair to blame concealed carry for the rise in gun crimes or violence overall across the state. A variety of factors unrelated to gun ownership could be in play, and a more comprehensive study is necessary than what I have provided above.

But what we can point out is that concealed carry, as a method of deterrence to crime across the state, was an utter failure. Republican lawmakers promised — and still promise to this day — that concealed carry makes the public safer. Yet we are most definitely not safer in the years following its passage.

As a method for public safety, we need to consider options other than concealed carry. Calls from some Republican lawmakers to loosen gun laws even more (around K-12 schools and college campuses in particular) are wrong-headed, and won’t provide safety to the areas they intend to.

Real reform is needed, and the answer can’t just be to arm the public. That reform has failed to keep us safe.

Chris Walker writes a blog at http://political-heat.blogspot.com

Categories: Op-Ed, Politics

8 thoughts on “Op-Ed: Concealed Carry Hasn’t Prevented Crime”

  1. Tony Muhammad says:

    Your argument is convoluted with party partisan lines and agendas.

    If the author here is going to argue the conceal carry law did not make Wisconsin citizens safer then the author should show data revealing how many Wisconsin conceal carry citizens since 20111 were murdered, prevented harm to them or family because they had a conceal firearm which helped prevent a crime against them or family.

    The author admits to a flaw in his argument – “It’d be unfair to blame concealed carry for the rise in gun crimes or violence overall across the state.” highlighting my point once again – Chris Walker argument is convoluted by party partisan lines and political agendas that are designed to clash and show distinctiveness from the other party.

    Crime rates in the American society fluctuate with the fall and rise in the poverty level (In both geographical areas – city and rural communities) and the society lack of livable wage jobs (moving overseas or out of the country) in the American society.

    If politicians on both sides were truly sincere about reducing crime in the American society they would join political forces to reduce or eliminate poverty in the American society. Poverty creates crime, not the reverse Chris Walker, nor does Wisconsin conceal carry law have a correlation to your presented data showing a rise in crime or murder rate in the State which you obviously have admitted to in this op-ed. So your point is really mute and only serves the liberal agenda to ultimately take firearm possession / ownership from common citizens.

    I will give up my firearms when law enforcement and the military lay down its firearms when firearm manufacturers go out of business and – if – it ever becomes unconstitutional for American citizens to own firearms.

    Disclosure; I am not affiliated with either the Dems, Repubs and NRA political parties and associations.

  2. Penrod says:

    Whether any of us like it or not, the Constitution puts some policy options on the table, fails to put others on the table, and explicitly prohibits still others.

    Republicans and Democrats alike like to pretend that isn’t so, but all they are really saying is that they wish the Constitution would quietly go away. 1st Amendment rights, 2nd Amendment rights, 4th, 5th, 10th…doesn’t matter: if they impede what Republicans and Democrats consider Good Policy, the pols pretend that they don’t exist- with all sorts of subtle and oh, so sophisticated arguments that the Constitution plainly says that which it plainly does not.

    After they stuff the courts with like minded people, the courts back them up. That does not change the meaning of the Constitution. It only demonstrates the power of the political factions in the Republican and Democratic parties which despise Constitutional limits on their power to do exactly as they please.

    On the 2nd Amendment, the anti-armed citizen faction ‘understands’ that the “shall not be infringed” obviously means “may be made a felony”, because THAT to them is good policy.

    Ultimately, Mr. Walker, it does not matter if carrying a personal weapon -any personal weapon: the Constitution says ‘arms’, not ‘guns’- makes the carrier or society more or less safe, because the Constitution has prohibited the policy options of ‘infringing’ the keeping and bearing of arms.

    The decision to keep and bear arms or not is properly the choice of individual Americans, not a policy option open to Good Policy restrictions by people who disrespect the fact that the Founders already considered the policy option of restrictions and prohibited government from making it. It is our decision, not that of Republican politicians, not that of Democratic politicians: Ours. We choose, not government, not our moral betters, not our intellectual or educational superiors. Ours. For better or worse, the choice is not properly that of politicians, nor of those factions which support them: That was decided when the Bill of Rights was ratified.

    While the people who wrote and ratified the 2nd Amendment would have little problem with restricting the keeping and bearing of arms by violent criminals, the rest of us do have rights protected by the Constitution, just as we have rights to speak and publish without fear of government punishment, just as we have the right to keep soldiers from being quartered in our homes, or our papers and other effects searched without warrant.

  3. AW says:

    Tony Muhammad above is correct. The only epidemiological data that would matter in this case are injury, mortality, and crime-involvement statistics of those with concealed carry permits.

  4. lawrence mack says:

    Greetings from the Great Southern land of Australia.It seems that Mr Penrod and Mr Muhammed are looking at guns as purely constitutional issue, with out any context of the rest of society.The Constitution once upheld Slavery, Jim Crow,and was interpreted to mean than there should be no right for collective bargaining.The American Constitution was not handed down on Mount Sinai.It is not some Sacred Text,but it seems that parts of it are seen that way.It now gives the Klan, the Cripps, The Bloods,the Panthers,Isis supporters all the fire power they want,but as long as Mr Penrod and Mr Muhammed have fire arms, they do not seem to care!Not all libertarians are selfish, but all selfish people are libertarians.Now, you may say you live in a country that does not give you the right to have the means to defend yourself and family from criminal violence and tyranny.Correct.I live in a Country where we just had a Federal election and no one asked:Should we arm school teachers?Would you like to live in a nation that has no armed guards in Churches, Malls, and schools?In 1900 Australia voted against having the right to bear arms for their Constitution.Australia has changed a great deal since 1900, and we have changed our Constitution accordingly.In America it seems you are stuck in 1791,and too afraid to change.

  5. wisconsin conservative digest says:

    the problem is not the citizens of most of Wiscosnin but the leaders of Milwaukee that have suspended the jailing to thugs.

  6. Eric Sosa says:

    Hello Mr. Walker,

    my name is Eric Sosa. I am a student at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and was looking for sources to write a paper. I read your article arguing how concealed carry has not prevented crime and I agree with your claim. Since 2011, when concealed carry was legal in all fifty states, there has been twenty nine recorded mass shootings in the United States solely from people that had concealed carry. States are not required to report mass shootings which means that the number is most likely higher than the one recorded. The main purpose people get a concealed carry is for defense from anything thrown their way. This is not the only way to be safe. Less guns would limit the chances for death rates to continue growing. Wisconsin cannot be the only state that has this situation.

  7. Penrod says:

    6 Eric: Are you saying that 29 mass shooters had concealed carry licenses? If so, I hope you check again because that is EXTREMELY unlikely: It would be front page news all over the country. The anti-concealed carry people in the news media would see to that. If true, I’d love to see a list of people, places, and the sources for claiming they had CCWs.

    Fewer guns would only have an impact if the people who are homicidally inclined were the people with fewer guns. Removing guns from the general population would do nothing at all, as those people are not a crime problem.

    Unless the anti-gun people come up with a means of removing guns from the hands of violent nuts and gang, their efforts are doomed to, at best, failure.

    As for concealed carry in all 50 states: for practical purposes that is not true. States have provisions for issuing permits, but in practice some either do not do so at all, or they are available only so some residents in some counties. For example, Hawaii, in which open carry is a felony, has a provision for the police chief of each island/county to issue a concealed carry license in “extraordinary circumstances”, but if the Methamphetamine Dealers Association has a large bounty on your ideally detached head, your car has been shot up and your house firebombed, all this week, because you are an anti-drug activist, you will not qualify for a CCW.

    For practical purpose, the governments of those states are firmly on the side of the violent criminals: they disarm all potential victims and let the criminals do as they please with them.

  8. wisconsin conservative digest says:

    How do we know that if that had not happened crime would blossom like it has in Milwaukee.. Fact is that the more guns per capita in Crandon wis has never brought more crime I carry most of the time.

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