Dispatch: NOW they Print it - "Other States with Carry Laws See Few Problems"

After publishing multiple editorials spouting the typical uninformed rhetoric opposing Concealed Carry Reform, the Columbus Dispatch has finally decided to allow a story to be printed which admits to the SUCCESS of such laws in other states.

Should readers be at all suspicious that the Dispatch waited until a Senate committee has knuckled under to a police union and Gov. Taft using the exact same fear warnings that failed to materialize on these other states? The author of the story may be emailed at [email protected]. His boss, Ben Marrison, can be reached at [email protected]. Letters to the Editor (for publications consideration) may be sent to [email protected].

Click here to read the entire Columbus Dispatch story. (subscription site - paid access only). An archived version follows.

Jeb Phillips

Michigan's concealed-weapons law took effect about 16 months ago. Enough time has passed that some long-time opponents are willing to call it a success.

Kind of.

"There hasn't been a massacre'' is how Thomas Hendrickson, executive director of the Michigan Association of Chiefs of Police, puts it.

This may seem familiar: A law-enforcement agency, at first unhappy with a concealed-weapons bill being pushed through the legislature at the end of a session, now gives it grudging support.

In Ohio, a stricter gun measure -- still going through the grinder as the General Assembly's session winds down -- has won at least the neutrality of the Fraternal Order of Police, which formerly opposed it.

Law-enforcement officials in Michigan -- as well as in Pennsylvania and Indiana, where concealed-weapons laws are much older -- said the system has mostly worked.

"We do run into cases where we have to take a permit away from someone, so we take it away,'' said Deputy John Chaumpi of the Sheriff's Department in Luzerne County, Pa.

"But my feeling is that most of the people who apply for permits are responsible.''

During the first year of Michigan's new law, 53,000 people were issued a permit to carry a concealed weapon (about 27,000 have permits under an old law). Only 55 were revoked for violations such as drunken driving or, in six cases, for brandishing their weapons.

The low numbers surprised most of the opponents, said Dave Turner, a spokesman for the Michigan State Police, which issues permits to carry concealed weapons in that state.

"They thought it would be a lot more,'' Turner said.

But revocations may increase in Michigan, if Indiana and Pennsylvania are examples.

Indiana, which has had some form of a concealed-weapons law since 1935, has issued about 320,000 permits to date, said Bruce Bryant of the Indiana State Police Firearms Division. In 2001, the state revoked 616 permits and suspended 383. Many were revoked after the permit-holder was convicted of domestic abuse or served with a protection order, he said.

Overall, Michigan revoked about 0.07 percent of its permits, while Indiana revoked about 0.20 percent.

Pennsylvania also revoked hundreds last year, but they were a small percentage of all permits.

Ohio would become the 44th state with some provision for people to carry concealed guns. None of those states has reported an increase in crime that can be traced to the gun permits.

"At the same time, I don't know of people stifling crime because they are carrying weapons,'' Hendrickson said.

The numbers haven't quieted all fears of Michigan police, Hendrickson said. They have the same worry that has kept the Ohio State Highway Patrol from supporting the bill here: the prospect of confronting a driver who has a loaded gun on the front seat during a traffic stop.

Just because there hasn't been a massacre yet doesn't mean there won't be one, Hendrickson said.

Michigan put into place many of the same safeguards that Ohio legislators are proposing -- thorough background checks, required training courses and limits on where permit-holders can carry their weapons.

Ohio senators are proposing a database to allow officers to immediately check a stopped motorist for a permit, a feature the Michigan law doesn't have.

And although Michigan sheriffs issue permits, anyone who meets state standards can have one. Hendrickson said sheriffs should have the discretion to deny a permit to someone who appears unstable in person, even if his record checks out.

In Pennsylvania, a sheriff has that discretion, but not some other safeguards, such as requiring a training course such as the one in the Ohio proposal, Chaumpi said.

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