In 1988, when Florida first considered passing a shall-issue concealed carry permitting (CCW) law, gun control groups hysterically predicted massive public bloodshed and shoot-outs in the streets. But nothing like their dire predictions has ever happened. In fact, after Florida civilians were allowed to legally carry guns in public for self-defense, certain categories of violence plummeted. For example, in the first five years after Florida allowed concealed carry, murders went down 21%, while nationally they rose 9%.
As many other states followed Florida’s lead and also started issuing licenses to carry, crime rates began to subside nationally.
Except that is, in Washington D.C. where guns were completely banned and no carry was allowed. Murders there soared 26% over the same period that Florida’s murder rate fell 21%.
Twenty years later, the Supreme Court ruled that D.C. could no longer ban handguns. Gun control groups, recycling the same tired scare tactics they used in Florida and every other state that passed liberalized policies for carrying firearms for self-defense, predicted increased public bloodshed from increased gun ownership. Dire prophecies were again proffered about how the average citizen could kill-at-will and how they would stratospherically drive city violence higher.
Guess what? In Heller’s wake, D.C. crime is now going down. Things in D.C. are looking better. Since the Heller decision, homicides have dropped 56%, compared to 13% for everywhere else. Aggravated assaults have dipped 12%.
Since most the rest of the nation never had a gun ban, like D.C., and since 42 states have a head start in terms of public concealed carry, the national crime rate is already much, much lower that D.C.’s. In fact, it’s so much lower that we need to plot U.S. violence rates on a different axis than D.C. (in the most recent reporting year, D.C. still had a homicide rate three times larger than everywhere else). Though still dropping, the entire country doesn’t have that much more to fall in terms of homicides. D.C.’s descent is staggering by comparison.
Not that things are entirely peaceful in D.C. post-Heller. With the District’s city council enacting every inane regulatory gauntlet imaginable against owning a gun, private gun ownership is gaining slowly – criminals are not yet completely intimidated by the possibility of armed citizens. And D.C. still prohibits concealed public carry entirely, which some statistically adept scholars believe is what really spooks thugs. But incrementally, people have been acquiring firearms in The District, and criminals are backing off.
To be fair, this doesn’t definitely prove that legal private gun ownership caused the drop in violence. But it certainly didn’t make it any worse.
So imagine a day when we can give “Give ‘Em Heller,” that is, the promise of Heller to the entire country and to the world. As D.C. shows, life spans grow when thugs grow scared. Guns save lives!