Explore The NRA Universe Of Websites

APPEARS IN News

Texas Concealed Handgun Carriers Are Law-Abiding...

Monday, August 21, 2000

In 1994, Texas citizens approved a nonbinding resolution asking the state to grant Texans the right to carry concealed weapons. Gov. Ann Richards had vetoed such a bill prior to the vote and vowed that no such bill would pass while she was governor. By contrast, her opponent in the race for governor--George W. Bush--said that if elected he would sign an appropriately structured "right-to-carry" law. Bush won the election and on May 26, 1995, signed a law granting Texans the right to carry concealed firearms. When he did so, Texas joined 30 other states that have made it legal to carry concealed weapons.

Because of its large geographic size and population and electoral importance, Texas` experience with concealed carry has come under sustained attack. Before passage, opponents predicted a decline in public safety, with minor incidents escalating into killings as the concealed carry law placed more guns in irresponsible hands. Further, critics claimed that criminals would be undeterred by an increase in armed citizens. Both predictions were wrong.

In 1998 and again in 1999, the Violence Policy Center, a research organization opposed to concealed carry (Editor`s note: VPC seeks a total ban on handgun ownership), released reports highlighting the numbers of Texas` concealed carry licensees who have been arrested since the law went into effect. Using Texas Department of Public Safety records, the center pointed out that Texas licensees had been arrested for nearly two crimes a day through 1998--with more than one arrest each month for a violent crime.

In isolation, these numbers paint a troubling picture. However, the reports are misleading for several reasons. First, they do not separate crimes that involve concealed weapons from those that don`t. In addition, they ignore the fact that more than 55 percent of licensees arrested for violent crimes are cleared of the crimes for which they are arrested. Most tellingly, when the arrest rates of Texas` concealed carry holders are compared with those of the general population, licensees are found to be more law-abiding than the average person.

In an unpublished report, engineering statistician William Sturdevant found that concealed carry licensees had arrest rates far lower than the general population for every category of crime. For instance:

** Licensees were 5.7 times less likely to be arrested for violent offenses than the general public--127 per 100,000 population versus 730 per 100,000.

** Licensees were 13.5 times less likely to be arrested for nonviolent offenses than the general public--386 per 100,000 population versus 5,212 per 100,000.

** Further, the general public is 1.4 times more likely to be arrested for murder than licensees, and no licensee had been arrested for negligent manslaughter.

"All the horror stories
I thought would come
to pass didn`t happen. . . .
I think it`s worked out well,
and that says good things
about the citizens who have permits.
I`m a convert."
--Glenn White, president
of the Dallas Police Ass`n



This is unsurprising, since the standards for getting a concealed carry license in Texas are the strictest in the nation. One must be at least 21 years of age, submit a photo and fingerprints for a background check, pay a $140 fee and take more than eight hours of course work. In addition, applicants must pass both a written test covering laws pertaining to deadly force and gun safety and a shooting accuracy test. Even with all of these hurdles, more than 200,000 Texans have received concealed carry permits.

Shootings involving licensees are rare. However, most permit holders who have wounded or killed purported assailants have not been arrested because the authorities have determined that the shootings were justified. For instance:

** Licensee Jim Eichelberg ended James Turner`s brief crime spree when, in an exchange of gunfire, he shot Turner as Turner tried to carjack Eichelberg at gunpoint. Earlier, Turner had robbed another driver.

** In 1996, licensee Becky Shelton shot and killed a man who was attempting to rob and shoot her husband in their Richardson jewelry store.

Of the concealed carry licensees who have been arrested for a murder, several have been no-billed by grand juries that determined the killings were lawful. Gordon Hale, III, was the first Texas licensee to kill an assailant using his concealed firearm--and the first licensee arrested. Hale had been involved in a minor noninjury traffic accident that turned into an assault when the other driver, Kenny Tavai, punched Hale repeatedly in the face and then attempted to drag him out of his car through the window. Hale fired his weapon in response, killing Tavai. The Dallas district attorney`s office charged Hale with murder for using what it considered excessive force in defending against Tavai. The grand jury believed that Hale justifiably feared for his life and refused to indict him. Of the six licensees who were arrested for murder or nonnegligent manslaughter and brought to trial, twice as many (four) were found to have acted in self-defense as were found guilty of murder (two).

When criminals suspect that the costs of committing a crime will be too high, they are less likely to commit it. The possibility of a concealed weapon tilts the odds in favor of the potential victim. Studies have shown that rape victims who resist with a gun are only half as likely to be injured as those who do not resist.

In More Guns, Less Crime (1998), the University of Chicago`s John Lott examined the impact of concealed carry permits. Using data from all 3,054 U.S. counties between 1977 and 1992, he found that after controlling for other factors:

**Concealed handgun laws reduce murder by 8.5 percent, rape by 5 percent and severe assault by 7 percent.

** Passage of nondiscretionary carry laws in states that did not have them in 1992 would have reduced murders in that year by 1,839; rapes by 3,727 and aggravated assaults by 10,990; robberies by 61,064 and burglaries by 112,665. The total value of this reduction in crime in 1992 dollars would have been $7.6 billion, Lott says.

These reductions are beyond the general decline in crime rates that the U.S. has experienced during the past eight years.

In the early 1990s, Texas` serious crime rate was 38 percent above the national average. Since then serious crime in Texas has dropped 50 percent faster than for the nation as a whole. For example, during the 1990s Texas` murder rate dropped 52 percent compared to 33 percent nationally, and the rape rate fell by 22 percent compared to 16 percent nationally. In light of Lott`s research, it is likely that Texas` concealed carry law has contributed to the declining crime rates.

Both John B. Holmes, Harris County district attorney, and Glenn White, president of the Dallas Police Ass`n, initially opposed concealed carry in Texas but have subsequently embraced it. Holmes said, "I ... (felt) that such legislation ... present(ed) a clear and present danger to lawabiding citizens by placing more handguns on our streets. Boy was I wrong. Our experience in Harris County, and indeed statewide, has proven my initial fears absolutely groundless." And White said, "All the horror stories I thought would come to pass didn`t happen. ... I think it`s worked out well, and that says good things about the citizens who have permits. I`m a convert." The evidence indicates that concealed carry is a vital tool in the fight against violent crime.



--------------------------------------------------------------------------------


About The Author

H. Sterling Burnett is a Senior Policy Analyst with the National Center for Policy Analysis, a nonpartisan, non-profit research and education institute headquartered in Dallas. For more information go to www.ncpa.org. This article first appeared in the August 2000 American Rifleman.

IN THIS ARTICLE
Texas Right-To-Carry
TRENDING NOW
National Reciprocity Bill Nears Goal Line in the House but Needs Your Support to Reach the End Zone

News  

Friday, September 15, 2017

National Reciprocity Bill Nears Goal Line in the House but Needs Your Support to Reach the End Zone

Gun owners received good news this week with the passage of the SHARE Act by the U.S. House Committee on Natural Resources (see related story). Meanwhile, progress continued to be made on another NRA legislative ...

Urban Myth: Crime Doesn’t Pay – California City Authorizes Stipends to Gang Members

News  

Friday, September 15, 2017

Urban Myth: Crime Doesn’t Pay – California City Authorizes Stipends to Gang Members

In a special meeting on August 29, the nine-member City Council of Sacramento unanimously agreed to allocate $1.5 million in funding and to move forward with a “gun-violence reduction strategy” that will include cash payments ...

California Legislature Adjourns the 2017 Legislative Session

Saturday, September 16, 2017

California Legislature Adjourns the 2017 Legislative Session

Last night, the California Legislature adjourned the 2017 session.  Three anti-gun bills, AB 7, AB 424 and SB 464, passed the Legislature and will now be considered by Governor Brown.  Contact Governor Brown and urge him ...

House Committee Passes SHARE Act by Wide Margin

Hunting  

News  

Friday, September 15, 2017

House Committee Passes SHARE Act by Wide Margin

As we have reported, this year’s version of the SHARE Act is the most expansive and far-reaching yet. Besides previously-introduced provisions aimed at enhancing opportunities for hunting, fishing, and shooting and broadening access to federal lands ...

NRA Backed SHARE Act Passes Committee

News  

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

NRA Backed SHARE Act Passes Committee

“Today marks an important step in protecting the Second Amendment freedoms of America’s hunters and sportsmen and strengthening our outdoor heritage,” said Chris W. Cox, executive director, NRA-ILA. “The SHARE Act will cut burdensome red tape that restricts ...

Washington Post’s Resident Anti-Gun Zealot Parades his Ignorance in SHARE Act Column

News  

Second Amendment  

Friday, September 15, 2017

Washington Post’s Resident Anti-Gun Zealot Parades his Ignorance in SHARE Act Column

Dana Milbank is not a serious journalist. A former White House correspondent for the Washington Post, Milbank now writes what can be characterized as a humor column for the paper.

Reuniting The United States With Reciprocity

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Reuniting The United States With Reciprocity

Most concealed-carry permit holders understand the potential pitfalls of traveling with a firearm, given the outrageous patchwork of state laws involved in even a short interstate trip. And while we haven’t posted much about reciprocity ...

NRA Applauds Reintroduction and Expansion of SHARE Act

News  

Hunting  

Friday, September 8, 2017

NRA Applauds Reintroduction and Expansion of SHARE Act

On Sept. 1, U.S. Congressman Jeff Duncan introduced H.R. 3668, the Sportsman’s Heritage and Recreational Enhancement Act (SHARE Act), a wide-ranging package of legislation aimed at promoting Second Amendment rights and America’s outdoor sporting traditions.

“What Happened”: Clinton Recognizes NRA’s Power, Rewrites History, and Urges Dems to Double-down on Gun Control

News  

Friday, September 15, 2017

“What Happened”: Clinton Recognizes NRA’s Power, Rewrites History, and Urges Dems to Double-down on Gun Control

This week, twice-failed presidential candidate Hillary Clinton released her new book, “What Happened,” which chiefly serves to assign blame to the myriad politicians, journalists, organizations, countries, prejudices, and technologies she claims caused her defeat. Gun ...

Wisconsin: Important Concealed Carry Legislation Scheduled for Committee Vote This Week

Sunday, September 17, 2017

Wisconsin: Important Concealed Carry Legislation Scheduled for Committee Vote This Week

This Tuesday, September 19, Senate Bill 169 is scheduled for a vote during the executive session in the Senate Judiciary Committee.  SB 169 would allow for the concealed carry of a firearm without a concealed carry license ...

MORE TRENDING +
LESS TRENDING -
NRA ILA

Established in 1975, the Institute for Legislative Action (ILA) is the "lobbying" arm of the National Rifle Association of America. ILA is responsible for preserving the right of all law-abiding individuals in the legislative, political, and legal arenas, to purchase, possess and use firearms for legitimate purposes as guaranteed by the Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.