published Monday, November 7th, 2011

Tennessee's good record on handgun permits

As of mid-October, more than 335,000 Tennesseans had permits allowing them to carry handguns, according to the Tennessee Department of Safety and Homeland Security.

And it appears that the overwhelming majority of those permit holders exercise their Second Amendment rights responsibly.

You may recall the alarmist claims that allowing citizens who have undergone background checks and completed a safety course to carry handguns inevitably creates a Wild West mentality and leads to a spike in murders and other violent crime.

But those fears don't seem to be borne out by the statistics.

The Violence Policy Center, an organization based in Washington, D.C., combed through news accounts on shootings and court proceedings related to people who had handgun-carry permits. The numbers that the center found for Tennessee should be encouraging to those who support the Second Amendment.

Of the hundreds of thousands of Tennesseans who are licensed to carry handguns, only five have been convicted of first- or second-degree murder over the past three years. One other person killed himself after killing his girlfriend.

Of the approximately 335,000 people in Tennessee who today are licensed to carry handguns, those five convicted of murder, along with the one murder-suicide, amount to only 0.0018 percent.

Is each of those killings a tragedy? Of course! But they still represent a tiny fraction of those who have the handgun permits. And there have also been reported -- and undoubtedly many unreported -- incidents in which handgun-carry permit holders frightened away would-be attackers once the assailants realized their intended victims were armed. Legal gun owners have surely prevented a great deal of violence.

It is natural for there to be concern about any type of violence involving guns -- or any other weapon. But gun control, which puts guns out of the reach of law-abiding citizens but not of criminals, is an invitation to more -- not less -- gun crime.

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