Guns in America

Americans want more access to concealed firearms. But should they get their wish?

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Why do Americans want more concealed guns? A Zogby poll says 83% support concealed carry permits for anyone and USA Today reports a "surge in applications for concealed weapons permits." The reports coincide with gun owner George Sodini's gym rampage last night in Pittsburgh, which left four dead. Pundits haven't had time to process the attack, so The Atlantic Wire is at your service to delineate the age-old divide on guns: Do conceal-carry permits make us safer or less safe?

Blame liberals.
The Weekly Standard's C.J. Ciaramella connected gun control advocates, who "painted concealed carry permit holders as dangerous crazies who are likely to go on shooting sprees," to the rise in gun ownership. Gun permit applicants "seem to think Democrats will restrict their Second Amendment rights," she wrote. "I wonder why?"

Guns in Congress? E.J. Dionne of the Washington Post tackled the anti-gun control argument that "the best defense against crime is an armed citizenry." He facetiously suggested that GOP Congressmen should "practice what they preach" and vote "to dismantle the metal detectors, send the guards at the doors away and allow Americans to exercise their Second Amendment rights by being free to carry their firearms into the nation's Capitol?"

The National Review's Ramesh Ponnuru countered that of course the Capitol's security is preferable, but that "nobody is proposing to implement such a regime for every 7-11 clerk working the night shift." Ponnuru argued that, when Capitol-like security is unfeasible, looser gun restrictions could make people safer. "The reduction of risks here seems pretty impressive," he wrote.

The best arguments for and against. For what it's worth, the definitive argument in support of stricter gun control remains Adam Gopnik's New Yorker piece pegged to the 2007 Virginia Tech shooting. And the definitive argument against would be John R. Lott's book "More Guns, Less Crime" or Joyce Lee Malcolm's 2002 Reason piece on gun control in England.

Poor statistics
. Either way, Eugene Volokh thinks the rising support for looser gun laws may be overblown. "While I support shall-issue laws, I'm pretty skeptical about the findings," he wrote, arguing that Zogby's poll question may have been misleading. Volokh compared past surveys that showed "at most 52%-55% support," concluding, "I'm skeptical that the increase would be so great."

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