Concealed gun, hidden trouble

Crime vote: Missouri residents wisely defeated referendum that was loaded with explosive problems.

April 12, 1999

JOHN LOTT JR.'s book, "More Guns, Less Crime," argues that states with laws allowing licensed citizens to carry concealed weapons deters criminals who, supposedly, won't prey on people when they don't know who is armed and who isn't.

The pro-gun movement used his misleading theory and others in a $4 million campaign to push a referendum in Missouri that would have allowed people to carry concealed weapons in that state.

Voters knew better. They defeated the initiative, realizing that the opposite was true: more guns, more danger.

Voters also recognized that the sharp decline in crime in their state in recent years had nothing to do with deputizing citizens like a modified version of a Wild West posse.

Missouri is one of seven states that prohibit the carrying of concealed weapons. Maryland is one of 12 states that allow concealed weapons but only in restricted cases. Thirty-one states have lenient concealed-carry laws similar to the one Missouri voters rejected.

Concealed weapon laws have hidden problems. Mr. Lott and the NRA conveniently dismiss a study showing that licensed handgun holders in Texas have been charged with 2,080 crimes in the three years since that state enacted its concealed-carry law. The charges range from robbery to rape to murder.

The Missouri referendum's results brought some good news: The NRA and others in the pro-gun movement lost their fight although they outspent opponents 4 to 1. Even with its charismatic president, Charlton Heston, the NRA is losing its influence on Americans, who know that too many guns are a big part of the problem, not the solution, to the nation's crime problem.

Pub Date: 4/12/99

Baltimore Sun Articles
Please note the green-lined linked article text has been applied commercially without any involvement from our newsroom editors, reporters or any other editorial staff.