Gun-lovin’ Americans like to claim Chicago has more murders than any city in the U.S. because Illinois is the only state that bans residents from carrying concealed weapons.
As a commenter wrote on Ward Room last week, “Individuals with concealed carry permits committed exactly zero murders in Chicago.”
The claim that concealed carry laws have any effect on murder rates is, as Vice President Biden might say, a bunch of malarkey.
Let’s look at New York City. Mayor Michael Bloomberg, one of the nation’s leading gun control advocates, likes to call New York “the safest big city in America.” This year, 414 people have been murdered in New York. That’s the lowest total recorded since police began keeping records in 1963. New York’s murder rate is a third of Chicago’s.
Yet it is nearly impossible to obtain a permit to carry a concealed weapon in New York City. New York state’s concealed carry law allows localities to set their own regulations.
A story in Saturday’s Tribune quoted Paul Browne, a deputy commissioner with the New York Police Department, on the city’s gun permit regulations:
.... most permits are restricted to business owners who want to carry a gun on their property or to those who need a gun as part of their job, such as security guards. But even then, when and where those permit holders are allowed to carry a gun can be limited. For instance, some may have approval to carry a weapon only within the confines of their business. Permits may also be granted to those who have a documented personal threat, or those who think they need extra protection, such as diamond dealers, but Browne said that is fairly rare.
Through the end of November, New York City had issued 2,074 new handgun permits, bringing the total active permit holders in the city to 36,652 for a population of about 8 million people.
The most lethal place in America is Flint, Mich., a city of 100,000 which averages 60 murders a year. That’s triple Chicago’s murder rate. If Chicago were as violent as Flint, we’d have 1,500 killings a year. In 2001, Michigan liberalized its gun laws to allow any adult without a felony conviction to carry a concealed weapon. Since then, Flint has set annual records for murders.
When New York, a city with a strict concealed carry law, is nine times safer than Flint, a city where just about anyone can pack heat, it’s ludicrous to say those laws are a factor in crime rates. Gun owners may feel better with a pistol snuggling against their breasts, but they’re not safer.