Matho’s blog: Concealed carry’s hidden message

Any discussion about carrying a concealed weapon in Australia is purely hypothetical. You’d be hard pressed arguing credibly that we need it, there’s absolutely no popular push to allow it, and so many laws would have to be changed that you’ve got Buckley’s of succeeding anyway. But that doesn’t mean it’s not interesting.

Concealed carry is all the rage in the US today, after many states relaxed laws that had restricted it. Hundreds of thousands of people took up the appropriate licences. Naturally, the gun-control lobby went red and began spitting chips, expecting more shootings than a Wild West movie’s climax. It didn’t happen.

The Violence Policy Center (VPC) did a study that suggested all these gun-toting citizens had become killers, but a couple of pro-gun researchers used similar methods over the same time frame to demonstrate a different outcome, one in which lives were saved in a society where guns are much more common than here.

David Burnett and Clayton Cramer tracked incidents of defensive gun use – fighting off robbers, resisting rape, defending against home invasions and so on.

“We’ve documented 2160 stories of self-defence with guns since May 2007 – the same time frame the VPC used,” said Burnett. “When it comes to concealed carry permits, we have 153 documented cases across 26 states with at least 550 lives saved.”

“If these victims had been disarmed, they wouldn’t be able to fight back … they’d be dead.”

The presence of a gun in the victim’s hands was often enough to end a confrontation with no shots fired. Many such incidents probably went largely unreported, said the authors, and they believe the figures are higher than they found.

The pair said concealed carry’s net effect was positive.

“States that allow concealed carry see reduced crime, if only because knowing a victim might be armed makes a criminal think twice,” says Cramer. “That unknown protects even unarmed citizens.”

“You have to look at the whole picture,” Burnett concluded. “Weigh the good with the bad. A gun in the hands of a responsible citizen can and often does save a life. If the Violence Policy Center wants to compare numbers, concealed carry wins.”

Why am I going on about what’s a non-issue here in Australia? Simply because it demonstrates that even at what we consider to be the extremes of legal gun ownership, we have plenty of good ground to stand on in support of our sport.

This is the foundation of the message we need to spread today. If US citizens can carry handguns hidden in their belts and bags and it reduces crime, then guns can’t possibly be as bad as the antis have told us. Besides, at this stage all we want in Australia is, as Bob Katter suggests, access to a few low-power, low-capacity longarms for hunting and target shooting – weapons that don’t even come into arguments about criminal confrontations.

Pretty reasonable, eh?


Mick Matheson




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Mick Matheson

Mick grew up with guns and journalism, and has included both in his career. A life-long hunter, he has long-distant military experience and holds licence categories A, B and H. In the glory days of print media, he edited six national magazines in total, and has written about, photographed and filmed firearms and hunting for more than 15 years.