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Liberals: Stop Worrying About Concealed Carry Laws

It's Okay to Conceal This
It's Okay to Conceal This

Painting with broad brush strokes, liberals tend to favor stricter regulation of guns (although I do think conservatives tend to go out of their way to demonize anyone who dares "tread" on the newly found constitutional right to bear arms). At all events, concealed carry laws (i.e., you can walk around with a gun) have found success in many state legislatures (here's a cool chart that shows the success of concealed carry laws since 1986).

Liberals -- at least those liberals that I like to call "liberals who give liberals a bad name" (e.g., Keith Olbermann, Chris Matthews, college kids, James Carville, Eleanor Clift, Maureen Dowd) -- are generally against concealed carry laws. Indeed, the dreaded, liberal New York Times issued an editorial called "The Scourge of Concealed Guns."

(Pendantic, tangential, but needed point: yes, the Times editorial board tends to lean left; no one disputes that. This does not mean, however, that their journalism is also liberally biased. This is true of all the mainstream media. They care more about conflict and ratings than they do about pushing any specific ideological agenda. As one prominent political scientist said: "As I've written before, I typically don't believe strong claims about media bias, mainly because good systematic evidence of bias is in very short supply.")

In any event, liberals many times have blinders on when it comes to guns; they let their visceral reactions get the best of the empirical reality. And the empirical reality is this: concealed carry laws are just fine; the people who have concealed carry permits aren't the people who commit gun violence.

Professor Mark A.R. Kleiman, who is very liberal in his politics, has shown in his academic work that a number of ideas that gun control advocates hold dear simply do not pass empirical muster. (Read the following blog posts by Kleiman and you will understand that he is nowhere near conservative: here, and here). Anyways, as Kleiman shows in his book When Brute Force Fails there is little to no evidence that people who carry guns under a concealed carry permit are the people who commit gun crimes. (p. 145, if you're cite-checking). More bad news for gun-hating liberals: the Brady Law never had much effect on crime.

The lesson here is that when facts get in the way of beliefs, it is our opinions that need to change, not our rationalizations.


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