Real Clear Policy
July 17, 2015
By Courtney Such
How many people are licensed to carry concealed guns in your state?
The Crime Prevention Research Center has released a paper with the numbers, finding that the number of permit holders has risen 15.4 percent in the last year alone.
We sat down with the organization’s president, More Guns, Less Crime author John Lott, to discuss the findings. The interview has been edited for length and clarity.
Why do you think there has been such a surge in permit holders since Obama’s election, and especially over the last year?
There was an increase during his election, but as you said, there’s been an accelerated change over the last couple years, and I think if you look at the polls you see one reason for that. Gallup and others have shown that Americans believe owning a gun is important for their safety.
By larger percentages, the polls show that people believe having a gun makes them safer as opposed to any other possible assets they may have.
And where we’ve seen the biggest growth in permits is among the groups that have had the biggest changes in their views on guns — blacks and women.
Why do you think that’s happening with women and minorities?
The growth in women having permits is twice what it is for men.
There are still many more men who have permits, but now 25 percent of permit holders are women, and their growth rate is twice what it is for men.
For blacks and other minorities, there is some evidence that they are increasing about twice the rate of whites.
Why? Again, I think the polls tell us a lot, but the deeper question here.
Why is it that their views are changing so much in the polls?
My own belief is that, if you look at the evidence, women and blacks, particularly poor blacks who live in high-crime urban areas, are the people who benefit the most from owning guns.
I think that message is just starting to get out in the last few years.
For blacks, if you look at Police Chief James Craig in Detroit or Sheriff David Clark in Milwaukee, these are just examples of leading black law enforcement saying,
“Look, we can’t protect you, we’re having budget cuts.
We’re having to cut the police forces that we have, and they’ve been strongly recommending that people in the heavily black areas that they represent have to be able to depend upon themselves for safety.”
My research over the years has convinced me of two things.
One is that the people most likely to be victims of violent crime benefit the most from having a gun to protect themselves, and the other is that police are extremely important in reducing crime.
I think police are the single most important factor, but if you look at interviews and surveys of police, you find that they understand themselves that they virtually always arrive on the crime scene after the crimes occurred, and that raises the question about what people should do when they have to confront a criminal by themselves.
By far, the safest course of action is for people to have a gun.
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