RIGHT TO CARRY= RIGHT TO COMMIT CRIMES?

rtc

Scenes such as the one above have been common the past couple of years with people openly possessing firearms while strolling down the aisle of a store casually tossing cans of French cut green beans, boxes of toothpicks and diapers, some juicy lamb chops, and a silencer into the old shopping cart.

I’m kidding about the toothpicks.

I think this graphic expression of one’s claimed Second Amendment rights is silly at best.

At worst I believe it is a bad example of, and is a potentially dangerous way of evoking such rights while at the same time acting far more manlier than warranted. A false machismo that is meaningless in a world where real men do not need to portray their violent nature nearly so much as they do empathy, compassion, intelligence, and thoughtfulness.

Intuitively those of us less inclined to martiality via cold blue steel share a sense that open carry portends mayhem just around the corner, given the propensity for bar discussions about Elroy Face vs Hoyt Wilhem as the epitome of 1950’s relief pitchers while quaffing a Falstaff Beer in a bar or upset at the fool changing lanes in front of you absent the courtesy of a turn signal  to erupt in more than mere angry words.

Fists result in bloody noses. Guns result in bloody autopsies.

Indeed, while open carry advocates speak of the great traditions and invoke memories of glorious Wild West Lawmen, Wyatt and Doc and the Brothers Earp were enforcing gun control during the famous showdown somewhere in the vicinity of the OK Corral. Tombstone, you see, had adopted an ordinance requiring the surrender of guns while in town to lessen the chances of more humans utilizing its namesake product.

And Wild Bill Hickock could have finished his poker game in peace if not for some miscreant determined to create a special nickname for a hand of Aces and Eights while practicing open carry.

But at that, I was intrigued at the headline Right-To-Carry Gun Laws Linked to Rise In Violent Crimes: Study.

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/11/14/right-to-carry-laws-crime_n_6160414.html

The report, published in September and issued as a National Bureau of Economic Research Working Paper last week, adds to a series of studies over the last decade tending to discredit the “more guns, less crime” hypothesis, which argues that right-to-carry laws serve as crime deterrents by allowing ordinary Americans to better protect themselves.

I am a skeptic. I am as doubtful of the tales of purported saving of damsels in distress because an armed stranger untied her from the train tracks while blazing away with his six-shooter as I am that NRA militants are stealing everything in sight during their forays into Target and intimidating possible 911 callers by waving bazookas and flame throwers. And mainly I am a skeptic because, while I believe a statistical correlation may be shown, causality cannot.

Yet the authors of the study, academics employed by Stanford and Johns Hopkins Universities, appear confident in their conclusions. Abhay Aneja, John J. Donahue III, and Alexandrea Zhang summarize their findings in this  abstract.

http://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=2443681

Across the basic seven Index I crime categories, the strongest evidence of a statistically significant effect would be for aggravated assault, with 11 of 28 estimates suggesting that RTC laws increase this crime at the .10 confidence level. An omitted variable bias test on our preferred Table 8a results suggests that our estimated 8 percent increase in aggravated assaults from RTC laws may understate the true harmful impact of RTC laws on aggravated assault, which may explain why this finding is only significant at the .10 level in many of our models. Our analysis of the year-by-year impact of RTC laws also suggests that RTC laws increase aggravated assaults. Our analysis of admittedly imperfect gun aggravated assaults provides suggestive evidence that RTC laws may be associated with large increases in this crime, perhaps increasing such gun assaults by almost 33 percent.

(Note…the download of the total study is 108 pages so I have not read it. I am basing this on the researchers own words in the abstract.)

The language employed here belies the Huffington Post headline as I would interpret this as to suggest that their findings are anything but absolute or even nearly so.They are far more indicative of the need for, if anything, further study. Greater statistical correlation of their assumptions would then help justify further public discourse and policy debate on open carry.

Yet…and yet? Intuition often serves us fairly well. There are many occasions when empirical evidence was unavailable but our gut instincts told us something was just not right and those instincts proved out.

The Wild West became just the West when the guns were put away and women and children and non gunslingers felt safe in public.

That’s not intuition…that’s history.

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Comments

  • Devildog  On November 15, 2014 at 10:32 AM

    Tell me the authors and subject of a “social” science study and I’ll tell you the conclusion.

    • umoc193  On November 15, 2014 at 6:15 PM

      Gee, where have I heard that before?

    • umoc193  On November 15, 2014 at 6:17 PM

      On the other hand, give me the name, real or screen, of blog and opinion page commenters and I’ll tell you their conclusions.

      • Devildog  On November 15, 2014 at 6:37 PM

        Yes and yes. This study is worthless, my comment is worthless. I don’t spend (much) time and (any) money on my comments and I don’t get cited (favorably) nor do I get tenure for them and they certainly don’t form the basis for legislation. Neither do your more learned comments.

  • Little_Minx  On November 15, 2014 at 12:27 PM

    Longtime fans of Reg’s humor columns are also likely to enjoy the following:
    http://www.post-gazette.com/opinion/2014/11/15/First-Person-Two-for-the-price-of-one-late-night-TV/stories/201411150019
    Bravo 🙂

    • toadsly  On November 15, 2014 at 2:44 PM

      Great read. Talented writer

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