NYT's Anti-Concealed Carry Report Actually Proves That No. Carolina and Its Permit Holders Are Safer

It seems that if you're a New York Times reporter on a mission to prove something you think must be obvious and your research leads to the exact opposite result from what you smugly expected, you forge ahead and try to pretend that you proved your point anyway.

At least that how it seems to have worked out for Times reporter Michael Luo in a report appearing in Tuesday's print edition which tried to show readers how one state which allows residents to carry concealed weapons with a permit is allegedly allowing large numbers of dangerous people to possess them. But the way the math works out, North Carolina, the state which the Times investigated, is far safer than many jurisdictions without such laws, even given the problems cited with pulling permits from those who have committed crimes and should not still be holding them. Additionally, the murder rate among North Carolinians who don't have permits or associate with those who do is higher than it is among permit holders. Here is Luo's pathetic attempt to make a case which can't be made:

The bedrock argument for this movement is that permit holders are law-abiding citizens who should be able to carry guns in public to protect themselves. “These are people who have proven themselves to be among the most responsible and safe members of our community,” the federal legislation’s author, Representative Cliff Stearns, Republican of Florida, said on the House floor.

To assess that claim, The New York Times examined the permit program in North Carolina, one of a dwindling number of states where the identities of permit holders remain public. The review, encompassing the last five years, offers a rare, detailed look at how a liberalized concealed weapons law has played out in one state. And while it does not provide answers, it does raise questions.

More than 2,400 permit holders were convicted of felonies or misdemeanors, excluding traffic-related crimes, over the five-year period, The Times found when it compared databases of recent criminal court cases and licensees. While the figure represents a small percentage of those with permits, more than 200 were convicted of felonies, including at least 10 who committed murder or manslaughter. All but two of the killers used a gun.

So what obvious piece of information is missing? That would be the number of permit holders in the Tar Heel State. Luo never gives us that all-important number because it makes a mockery of his pathetic journalistic attempt to smear gun owners.

The state's Department of Justice tells us that 228,072 concealed handgun permits (HT Robert VerBruggen at the Corner) have been issued during the past 16-1/2 years. Conservatively rounding that number down to 200,000 to allow for possible deaths (of non-murderous causes, Mr. Luo) and those moving out of the state, this would mean that in the five years studied:

  • There were two murders per year (forget the "at least" which precedes the 10 murders/manslaughters above; that appears to be an attempt by Luo to dress up a very small number, or to pretend that he couldn't find something which wasn't there to be found).
  • That's one murder per 100,000 permit holders -- really a lot less than one considering permit holders' family members.
  • North Carolina's statewide murder rate in 2010 was 3.34 per 100,000 (319 murders in a state with 9.54 million people -- over three times higher than the rate among permit holders, even before adding in their family members.
  • The nationwide murder rate in 2010 was 4.8 per 100,000 -- almost five times higher than that among North Carolina permit holders (before considering family members) and about 45% higher than the rate for North Carolina as a whole.
  • To name just one dangerous U.S. city, the 2010 murder rate in Chicago, a city which is especially hostile to citizen gun ownership, was about 16 per 100,000 (435 murders in a population of 2.7 million.

The felony and misdemeanor stats among the North Carolina permit holders also seem extraordinarily small for a five-year period involving 200,000 or more people.

One thing which may be skewing North Carolina's results to the dangerous detriment of non-permit holders is the fact that it does allow the identities of holders to be found. That would seem to be a bad mistake, because criminals can then target people who don't have permits and avoid those who do. It would seem to be much better for criminals to never know for sure if their intended victim is armed, and it would be interesting (though apparently impossible, without violating privacy) to see if non-holders in states which don't disclose holders' names are statistically safer.

Though it took extra work, we should thank Mr. Luo for proving the opposite point of what he tried to make. Maybe next time he'll tell us what he actually found instead of playing a game of misdirection. Better yet, he'll just stay home and not bother reporting anything at all.

Graphic is from the cover of "More Guns, Less Crime" by John Lott.

Cross-posted at BizzyBlog.com.

Tom Blumer
Tom Blumer
Tom Blumer is a contributing editor for NewsBusters.