Perhaps you should have closed your column with "No matter how many cases are sent in, I won't change my mind." At least it would have saved Second Amendment supporters -- who thought you would rationally consider the evidence you called for -- the trouble of fulfilling your request for examples. We understand the, "My mind is made up, don't confuse me with facts" philosophy.
Of course, there IS hard, empirical evidence that shows that concealed carry of firearms by citizens lowers crime - but I don't expect you are honestly interested in that either. Your "philosophical" position is not interested in reality. "Philosophically," everyone should love one another, and there would be no need for defense against criminal attack. While you're dreaming, you might want to make yourself immortal, richer than Croesus, more beautiful than Helen, stronger than Hercules, more talented than Nabokov and wiser than God. If you're going to dream, why not go whole hog?
While I grant that individual anecdotes are not a good way to decide this issue - what effort have you made to research the subject on a statistical basis? Making a vague reference to "Western European Countries" is no more accurate than an anecdotal approach. For example, Switzerland (a Western European Country) is armed to the teeth, with machine guns issued to many of their adult male citizens, yet misuse of firearms there is minimal.
Or perhaps you were referring to Britain, which now tops the United States in almost every area of crime (and is catching up in homicides) - and which, breaking a 170-year-old tradition, is now arming its Bobbies to combat a crime wave that reflects a 7-year increase (since gun banning went into effect there) culminating in the most recent year's all-time high. The same sort of thing is happening in Australia.
But don't blame me. Read the research from that hotbed of pro-Second Amendment research, the University of Leiden. Would you be surprised to learn that among those "Western European Countries" you hold in such regard, England, Scotland, Finland, N. Ireland, Denmark, Sweden and France all have higher rates of violent crime than the US? (There may be others, but the article only cites the top ten most violent countries - and the US didn't make that list.) Read it for yourself, on a website with a vested interest in your own position, no less. http://www.telegraph.co.uk/et?ac=003489802464778&rtmo=aCq4dK4J&atmo=r rrrrrvs&pg=/et/01/2/23/ncrim123.html
Of course, it's pretty meaningless to compare one country straight across to another without taking into account cultural factors. Japan has a low murder rate, and firearms are banned - but there is no evidence the relationship is causal. The suicide rate (which accounts for more than half of all gun-related death in the United States) is nearly three times higher in Japan.
If you have any journalistic integrity, then, it seems you should turn to studies that show what happens when laws CHANGE in this country. That's your concern with the Michigan law, right? For that, you have the most definitive study ever done on the effect of concealed carry laws: John Lott's research shows that when citizens are allowed to carry firearms for the defense of themselves and others, crime goes down. This really isn't surprising. In Florida, one of the major early adopters of "shall issue" concealed carry, permit holders have proven at least 6 times more law-abiding than the legislature that created the laws. (I base this on the felony arrest rate of permit holders - which is tracked by the state - and the publicized felony convictions of Florida legislators - which I admit may be grossly underestimated, since every case I might have missed in my few hours of research actually lowers the ratio. Thus, permit holders may be 10 times, or even 100 times less likely to commit a felony than the legislators.)
Again, this is not surprising. A person who goes to the effort to get a concealed carry permit cannot be a felon, a drug addict, an alcoholic - must pass a background check, and must be trying to obey the law, else they'd carry without the permit.
By the way, Florida's enactment of a law similar to the Michigan law was followed by a 21% drop in the homicide rate. The gun-related homicide rate dropped slightly more - by 23%. So maybe instead of "looking to Western European Counties" you ought to be looking at what happens right here in the USA.
Having and carrying a gun does not magically change anyone into a homicidal maniac. But "shall issue" concealed carry does mean criminals must be fearful that any person - yes, even you - might have the means to defend themselves or others against violent criminal attack.
The irony here is that no matter how closed-minded you might be, or how unreasoningly anti-gun, the enactment of "shall issue" concealed carry in Michigan is likely to make YOU safer by putting all criminals in fear.[/QUOTE]
Kurt Amesbury, J.D.
KABA National States Director http://www.KeepAndBearArms.com
[This message has been edited by Van Canna (edited March 30, 2001).]