Tuesday, March 2, 2010

More Guns?

Last week I was sitting in chambers with a judge and the prosecutor. "Chambers" is a fancy court word for office. I have a pending murder case in this courtroom and we were all discussing the trial schedule.

At one point the prosecutor made a comment about how trivial this case is. In his opinion, it arose out of a dice game gone bad. That's not really what happened but for purposes of this post, I will go with it.

I commented that there are too many guns on our streets. He responded "or not enough!"

Do we need more guns? Should citizens be allowed to arm? There is argument to support this assertion.

In 2008, there were 170 murders in Dallas and 294 in Houston. That's a rate of 13.3 per 100,000 citizens in Dallas and 13.1 in Houston.

Texas has the most liberal gun laws in the nation. In Texas, one can take a class and legally carry a concealed weapon. You can also lawfully carry a gun in your car to fight off would-be car-hijackers. My college girlfriend's mother often carried a small pistol in her purse, though I doubt legally.

Now compare Dallas and Houston with Chicago. Dallas has a population of about one million and Houston has about two million. So, together they are slightly more populated than Chicago and I am not even counting Fort Worth.

In 2008 there were 510 murders in Chicago, or 18 per 100,000 citizens. Dallas and Houston combined had 464. That's 46 less. The latest trend in Chicago is that about 80% of all homicides are by firearm. I assume Dallas and Houston are probably similar. But the difference in homicide numbers doesn't jump at me with a conclusive spring.

Even robberies are comparable. In 2008, Dallas and Houston combined had 17,069 and Chicago had 16,649. Argument has been made that if citizens are allowed to carry guns, would-be robbers might think twice. Not sure the numbers support that argument.

Dallas and Houston have lots of guns, many legal. Chicago has lots of guns, mostly illegal. Is there really a difference in the rates of murder? Robberies? In 2008 there wasn't. In the number of shootings? I don't know.

Are the firearm homicides in Houston and Dallas being committed with legal or illegal guns? I am betting the later. Pretty much all Chicago firearm homicides are caused by illegal firearms.

Whenever there are shootings or robberies in Chicago (daily) people write on the internet that citizens should be allowed to arm themselves. I have seen argument that if the criminals are going to carry guns anyway, law abiding citizens should be allowed to as well. Legally.

I can tell you from experience that a lot of people in the high crime areas of Chicago are armed. I know of older women with pistols in their homes. They keep them for protection even though handguns are illegal in Chicago. A number of people also carry guns in their cars. Again, for protection.

As I pointed out to the judge, those in Chicago that could potentially carry a concealed weapon, are not likely living in the most violent areas. He agreed. If Illinois created concealed carry permits, I doubt that many more guns would be on the streets of the bad areas.

Why? In Illinois a convicted felon cannot possess any type of weapon, including ammunition. I have seen numerous people go back to prison because a shot-gun shell was found during a search warrant. No joke.

A convicted felon cannot even live in the same house where another person lawfully owns a weapon. Quite honestly convicted felons would inhibit the licensing of concealed weapons to those with lack of criminal backgrounds simply because a felon lives in the same house.

Instead people up around where I live would be packing and that's scary. I live really close to Wrigley Field and see many, many pissed off, drunk Cub's fans. Not sure I want those people armed.

My point is that most of the people in Chicago screaming about being able to carry guns don't live in neighborhoods where carrying a gun is really needed. This is entirely my opinion though.

I also believe that citizens who live in dangerous neighborhoods don't post on the internet about gun laws. They go buy a gun, if they don't already have one. 

I do not think more guns are the answer. If the homicide and robbery rates in Houston and Dallas together were significantly less than Chicago, I might be persuaded. But they are not. Perhaps those that carry concealed weapons in Texas feel safer. I know sometimes I would feel safer driving in some neighborhoods if I had a 9mm under my seat or in the console.

But I don't want to have to defend myself with a handgun because I am wearing a Cardinals hat.




  1. I don't know if more guns are the answer, but I feel that laws unreasonably limiting a person's right to self-defense are not the answer. It's my understanding that in every state that adopted a "shall issue" handgun carry permit law, the rate of violent crime has decreased. People with carry permit are required to have initial and ongoing training and background checks. In Minnesota we have had almost no problems with carry permit holders. People who are using guns illegally are of greater concern to me. I worry about people who have no training being around guns, either as an owner or otherwise. People who are experienced shooters think of guns as tools, to be treated with care and respect, for lawful and moral purposes. Training and frequent use drill lawful use into the psyche of the experienced shooter. I find it understandable that folks with no experience using firearms, may fear them. Of course, this is a controversial political topic, but I think we should be willing to discuss these with respect.

  2. Tom,

    In Illinois one has to have the same background check you're referring to just to buy ammunition. It's a huge deal. And I agree that I worry about people handling guns with no training. Sadly this is most of the people in Chicago handling pistols. They learn how to shoot on TV and it's obvious when you go to a crime scene. Most of them cannot shoot, which I guess isn't a bad thing, except when little kids get shot by accident.

    But I cannot support concealed carry laws. I just don't see the need or wisdom in it. It's probably because of my city, though.

    However, if a state wants to allow it, it's a state's right to do so. It will never happen in Illinois. That's for sure.

  3. I feel that it is a right given by the 2nd amendment to carry a firearm for protection, i do agree that a person should receive proper training before arming themselves. In Chicago now to receive a CPF(Chicago Firearms Permit) you are required to take a class which allows 5 hours classroom and a hour on the range but i do not believe this is sufficient it should be as in other states a on going process of training. I live in a high crime area of Chicago but if i lived near Wrigley I would not feel I would have to carry because of police presence is strong as for my neighborhood thugs and gangbangers are always near and police usually come in time to clean the body off the pavement I believe self protection is in the eye of the individual and not decided by someone who sits behind a desk and has armed guards seconds away.


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