I’m not one to watch local news on TV (as much as I love a good flub), but I saw two separate stories recently that were enough to make my brain ache. First, the question was asked, “Why is it easier to get a conceal carry permit than it is to get a driver’s license?” The second story asked, “What can we do in Reno to bolster our local economy during this economic downturn?” I believe the CCW story was on two different stations and they both asked the same thing. I’ll give credit to the reporter I watched, although I have no idea who she is. She took the CCW class at Scheel’s and the story was fair. I didn’t perceive it as positive or negative, with the exception of the one ridiculous question. I’m not an expert and I’m certainly not a journalist, but let me take a stab at answering the question. The reason it is easier to get a CCW than it is to get a driver’s license is…(drumroll)…because cars are far more dangerous than guns.
Here are some rough numbers pulled from the web. Death statistics were acquired from the NCHS (CDC) web site and other statistics were collected from Wikipedia (I know the information may be incorrect, but this isn’t a scientific study – it’s just a goofy blog entry). In 2005 (the most recent statistics I could find) there were about 45,000 motor vehicle related deaths. This comes from about 199,000,000 drivers. That should put the accident death rate at about .023%. That same year there were about 800 deaths as a result of accidental discharge of firearms. That is with about 80,000,000 gun owners. That puts the accident rate at about .001%. The only way to make guns to look more dangerous is to include all gun-related homicides (about 12,000) and suicides (about 17,000). This brings the total to .037% – just slightly higher than the car accident death rate. This is not fair, though, because this makes the assumption that all gun-related suicides and homicides would not happen if guns were not available. This may be true in a limited number of cases, but not in general.
Of course, these numbers slight the real issue. 1) Gun ownership is a consitutional right and 2) carry permits deter crime and make our communities safer. To speak as though there is imminent danger in allowing law-abiding citizens to carry concealed weapons – after required training, background checks and registration, mind you – is ridiculous. It’s difficult to argue since both sides of the discussion have their own statistics to point to. Of course, holes have been repeatedly poked in the gun control crowds statistics, but that won’t change their minds.