As violence escalates around the world, touching neighborhoods once thought of as idyllic havens safe from violence, an increasing number of Americans are subscribing to the idea that personal safety comes through carrying a gun. Believing that owning firearms is a constitutional right, these people argue that by carrying a concealed weapon in public, they are doing their part in helping to prevent and reduce crime.
The idea that allowing the everyday citizen to carry a gun helps reduce crime sounds logical. The typical thief might think twice before attempting to rob somebody if there is an increased chance that he might get shot. However, that thief still has the one big advantage that no weapon can negate; surprise. He knows what is going to happen long before his victim does, giving an offender the upper hand over an unsuspecting and frightened citizen hurriedly fumbling for a gun in their pocket or purse.
Police officers, trained in handling both dangerous situations and weapons, are repeatedly scrutinized for improper handling of incidents or use of excessive violence to subdue a suspect. Why should we assume that a private citizen, with a minimum of training on how to handle a weapon or deal with a high stress and dangerous situation, would react in a safe and acceptable way without endangering themselves or the public?
Advocates of Right to Carry laws tout study after study, all claiming to prove that enacting these laws has reduced and prevented crime across the country. Often over-looked or ignored, there have been studies done that contradict these findings. The National Research Council has repeatedly studied the relationship between Right to Carry laws and crime rates. Their studies found that concealed carry laws have little effect on crime rates and may in fact increase the number of aggravated assaults that take place. Supporting this research is a study conducted by Stanford Law School professor John Donahue that found concealed carry laws may actually increase the overall amount of violent crime by as much as eight percent.
With the possibility of danger reaching into even the brightest corners of our world, the idea of having a gun can provide a feeling of both control and security. For some, it can create a false sense of confidence in one's own abilities and the desire to become a hero if the opportunity arises. Unfortunately, studies have proven that most gun owners who complete the required training to carry a concealed weapon were not prepared or able to act effectively in dangerous situations. This means that an overzealous person can easily cause a tense situation to escalate into tragedy before authorities even have the opportunity to respond.
Nobody wants to believe that they will be a victim and no one stops to think that they might be the one who accidentally shoots an innocent person, but both of these things happen. The truth is that a person who is minimally trained and carrying a handgun to protect themselves from being attacked by a stranger, which is statistically a less than once in a lifetime event, only succeeds in putting themselves and everyone around them in more danger in all other places and at all times.
The U.S. Constitution gives citizens the right to own firearms. But nowhere does the Constitution deny government the ability to put limits on that right. Examples of this are written into the laws that form the foundation of the American judicial system. People have the right to practice any religion that they choose, but not if that religion involves acts such as human sacrifice. They have the right to say or write anything that they want, but they do not have the right to libel or slander another person with those words.
All fifty states have now enacted right to carry laws that allow licensed citizens to posses a concealed hand gun, yet what news stories continue to make the headlines? We are not hearing stories of how a civilian prevented a tragedy or subdued an attacker through the use of a firearm. Instead, we hear about the violence and murders in places like Chicago and New York City as gun lobbyists recite their long loved mantra, "Guns don't kill people, people kill people". They are right, of course, but about half of the people who kill people do it with a gun.
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