COUNTERPOINT: Firearms for citizens poor plan, will increase accidents

Perhaps it’s the aftermath of Sept. 11, but all of a sudden there is talk of legalizing concealed weapons in Wisconsin. As it stands right now, Wisconsin doesn’t allow any citizens to carry concealed firearms and that’s the way it should stay.

While I respect the seemingly noble intentions of those who favor liberalizing concealed weapons laws (many of them see the concealed weapons as a way to stop crime and protect their families), I don’t see legalizing concealed firearms as accomplishing this goal. The irony of concealed weapons is while the theory is to increase public safety, the reality is the opposite – a dangerous community.

Indeed, statistics show concealed weapons increase the number of injuries in gun-related accidents and do so without decreasing crime rates. A 1998 study by The Brady Center shows states with more liberal concealed weapons laws having increased crime rates or rates that did not drop as sharply as the crime rates in states without concealed weapons laws.

Some bring up the issue of gun rights, but in my eyes, there really is only one argument at the core of allowing people to carry concealed guns – safety. Ask these people if they still want this “right” if it means decreased safety for everyone. If they say “yes” then their intentions are not as noble as I thought.

Just for reference, the Second Amendment reads, “A well regulated Militia being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of people to keep and bear Arms shall not be infringed.” Proponents of gun control and gun rights alike have argued over the wording of the Amendment.

All too often, debates on firearms get bogged down with these differences in perceived meaning. Let’s put all that aside. Maybe the forefathers intended to give individual gun rights and maybe they meant it for a militia only. It’s irrelevant with this issue as far as I’m concerned.

The bottom line: allowing people to carry weapons is not the answer for keeping people safe. There are those who favor concealed weapons who say criminals are going to carry guns illegally, so therefore, law-abiding citizens should be allowed to carry weapons to defend themselves. Of course, every person designated as a “criminal” was at one time a “law-abiding citizen.”

All too many concealed weapons groups seem hung up on the notion that the world is an evil place, teeming with gun-toting criminals who can only be stopped with another gun, a rather dim view of one’s community. In reality, stopping crime is a lot more complicated than matching the guns of criminals.

The gun rights organization Grassroots South Carolina illustrates this opinion on their Web site poll. The poll asks if people should be allowed to carry concealed weapons in public buildings. It allows answers of “Yes, definitely!” and a range of “no” answers each with snide comments attached. One reads “No, I prefer that only criminals carry.” Another reads “No, I prefer my child take their chances in public places.”

The answer they should have is “No, concealed weapons will not increase the safety of my community and I refuse to place my inferred ‘right’ to carry a weapon over the safety of my family.”