Since Obama won the Presidential election in 2008 gun sales in the Unites States have been soaring. Citizens feared that with a democratically controlled congress and presidency that gun rights would inevitably end up on the chopping block. In reality, gun rights have actually increased in America since President Obama took office – especially with the ruling of DC v Heller. President Obama had even stated on several occasions before he ever ran for public office that he actually believes the right to bear arms is an individual right and is not dependent upon militia service. And the number of democrats in congress that are supportive of gun rights makes it highly unlikely that any gun regulation will be on the docket anytime soon. While it appears that the general public may have over-reacted to the threat on gun rights it has actually given us a unique opportunity to look at what happens to crime rates as the number of private gun owners dramatically increases along with the number of conceal and carry permit holders.
More recently, the number of conceal and carry permit holders has more than doubled in most states. The surprising part is that in areas with the largest increase in conceal and carry permits we are also seeing the greatest reduction in violent crime. Although this is nothing new – as far back as 1997 there have been studies linking crime reduction with the number of conceal and carry permits – it is still surprising to many people when they hear about it, and many choose to disregard it.
Many advocates of gun control tend to cite that crime in general rises when gun are more present in an area. Generally speaking this is true, but the number of violent crimes and crimes committed with firearms actually decrease. It is believed that when criminals face a higher risk of encountering potential victims that are armed they tend to substitute into committing more petty crimes rather than more violent crimes. While the outcome of this criminal-substitution effect generally leads to an increase on overall crime it also decreases violent crime. This essentially leads to fewer crime related deaths and an overall better outcome. I guess in a strage way, President Obama has actually helped make America safer – so let it not be said that he has done nothing since taking office.
Spencer Aland blogs regularly here.