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"Conceal Carry" Does Not Keep Carriers or Others Safe--Recent Reports

"Conceal Carry" Does Not Keep Carriers or Others Safe--Recent Reports

Picture of Martha Rosenberg

It is hard to find a more impassioned group than conceal carriers who contend that they keep themselves and others safe by being armed. Yet is it true?  Reports by ABC's 20/20 and the Violence Policy Institute indicate no.

Two years ago, 20/20 tested whether carriers could defend themselves against an armed assailant who they knew would storm the room they were in. Even with advance warning none of the carriers stopped the assailant even though some were well trained in firearms. Some carriers came close to injuring themselves and others had the ammo been live.

Gun zealots decried the 20/20 test conditions as "unfair" as if conditions in real life would be fair and offer the perfect opportunity for them to demonstrate their conceal carry advantage.

While the 20/20 test suggested that conceal carry does not protect the carriers or stop "bad guys," there is a more deadly side to conceal carry. Since 2007, conceal carriers have been responsible for 494 US civilian deaths, 23 mass shootings and the death of 14 law enforcement officers, according to data compiled by the Violence Policy Institute.

States began loosening conceal carry laws, says the Institute, in 1996 when Tanya Metaksa, executive director of the National Rifle Association's Institute for Legislative Action, told lawmakers "these citizens don't commit violent crimes." But statistics indicate she is very wrong.

A staggering 1,400 people licensed for conceal carry in Florida have pleaded guilty or no contest to felonies, the Gainsville Sun reported upon reviewing records. Two hundred and sixteen had outstanding warrants, 128 had active domestic violence injunctions and six were registered sex offenders.

In nearly 80 percent of 300 deadly incidents, "the concealed carry killer has already been convicted (126), committed suicide (167), or was killed in the incident (seven)," says the Violence Policy Institute. "Of the 67 cases still pending, the vast majority (55) of concealed carry killers have been charged with criminal homicide, four were deemed incompetent to stand trial, and eight incidents are still under investigation."

Conceal carry also kills law enforcement officers. Among the 508 citizens killed by conceal carriers since 2007 were Alabama, police officer Philip Davis, Tampa police veteran Corporal Mike Roberts, US Customs and Border Protection Agent Donald Pettit and Springfield, MA, police officer Kevin Ambrose. Four of the slain officers were killed by white supremacists, an increasingly vocal component of the armed citizens movement.

Incredibly, Jared Lee Loughner who allegedly shot Arizona US Representative Gabrielle Giffords and killed six people in 2011 was a legal conceal carrier because Arizona does not require a permit of any type to carry a concealed handgun outside of the home. Conceal carriers also include the mass shooters Omar Thornton, who killed eight at a beer distributorship in Connecticut in 2010, and Gerardo Regalado who killed four women and wounded three in Florida in 2010. Mass shooter Paul Michael Merhige, who killed his twin sisters, a 76-year-old aunt and  a six-year-old cousin at a Thanksgiving dinner in Florida, was also a legal conceal carrier.

It is ironic that conceal carriers seem like burly, tough guys yet they are afraid to go the same places normal, unarmed people go every day. It is also ironic that they are armed against "bad guys" yet, in at least 500 recent shootings, they are the bad guys.

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