Guest Commentary

Carl Smart: No need to panic over concealed carry

Fears of Wild West shootouts in the streets with bullets flying from untrained gun owners are rampant, writes Carl Smart. These claims miss the whole point of concealed gun carry.
Fears of Wild West shootouts in the streets with bullets flying from untrained gun owners are rampant, writes Carl Smart. These claims miss the whole point of concealed gun carry. SHANE KEYSER/Kansas City Star

Gun laws are changing, and as more people are carrying concealed weapons the hysteria is out of control. So let’s take a deep breath and think.

Are you afraid of the people you meet and work with every day? Are they killers or gangsters? No, they are not. They are decent, everyday people who may be carrying a gun. If you aren’t afraid of them now, why would you fear them when they may have a gun that you can’t see? The criminals who should be feared are already carrying guns.

Concealed carry has been around for years, so we know what is going on. The data show that concealed carry license holders have crime rates so low it is hard to measure.

In the last few years, a quiet change has occurred. Women have been buying guns in record numbers — and not as gifts for the men in their lives, but for themselves. So the face of the person carrying the concealed gun may not be male but female.

We have heard wild predictions of murder and mayhem for years. Fears of Wild West shootouts in the streets with bullets flying from untrained gun owners are rampant. These claims miss the whole point of concealed gun carry.

Concealed gun carry does not result in more shootings. It prevents them. A 1983 study from the Department of Justice by James D. Wright and Peter Rossi concluded that most criminals avoid armed victims. It is like wolves picking sheep out of a flock. If they don’t know if they will pick a sheep or a ram, maybe it is a good day to hunt rabbits. The goal of concealed carry is not to win a gunfight but to avoid it entirely.

In the absolute worst case, that being a mass shooting, studies have shown that most of the victims are killed in the first few minutes of the attack. Also, many attacks occur in posted gun-free zones.

Every few seconds a victim is killed, so it is critical that the shooter be challenged as soon as possible. By the time the police arrive most of the shooting is over. That is why it is important to have armed people on site who can react in time. This is literally life or death. Armed guards are nice, but often they are the first target. Only the high likelihood of a concealed weapon can generate sufficient doubt in a killer’s mind to prevent the shooting or stop it once it starts.

We must stop the mixed messages our children receive about guns. On one hand we ban information about guns and teach irrational fear. The mass media and video games project a world drenched in guns, where characters die cleanly and a quick reset puts you back in the game. In a world where statistically half the homes have a firearm, sooner or later our children are going to encounter a gun.

We teach our children to look both ways before crossing the street, so why don’t we teach them how to be safe around guns? “Just don’t touch and be afraid” simply isn’t good enough. We must teach real gun safety.

There is real evil in the world, and people are beginning to sense that it is growing. It is sad, but our society is going to have to become a harder target. We must be armed and capable of defending ourselves. The only way we are going to get through this is the only way we have ever gotten through hard times. We have to stick together.

It can be scary, but it is time to realize that sooner or later we just have to trust each other.

Carl Smart is vice president of the Western Missouri Shooters Alliance.

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