Open letter United Dairy Farmers: John Osborne “not entitled to his own facts”

"We are sorry if UDF lost your business! The Shareholders and Senior Management felt the SAFEST policy for Customer and Employees would be to post our stores for No Concealed Carry. Personally, as a 34 year police veteran, I agree with the decision!" - John W. Osborne, Director of Security, United Dairy Farmers

Dear Mr. Osborne

While you're certainly entitled to your own opinion, you're not entitled to your own facts. Here are some real ones to consider.

Twenty-seven years after Florida passed their CCW law there are now well-over a million citizens legally carrying handguns in 35 plus states. My state of Indiana has allowed CCW for 70 years, and over 350,000 Hoosiers currently have CCW permits. In some counties about 10 percent of residents own a carry license. In my town almost 1 out of every 5 adults have a CCW.

Nationwide, there have been no law enforcement officials shot by any person with a CCW, no school, church, or convenience store shootings by any person with a CCW, no "blood on the streets", no "Dodge City shootouts", no instances of the guns being taken away and used by the badguys, no rise in accident levels, no prisons full of untrained CCW holders who shot otherwise innocent people willy-nilly, and no examples of children shot dead by CCW holders.

We go about our business quietly and calmly, while occasionally defending ourselves against social predators.

You forecast terrible things but I have one question: Why have none of the doom, gloom, and scary stories stuck in your mind not come true in any state that has passed a CCW law? Not one.

If there really was "blood on the streets" from any of these states certainly you would use actual statistics instead of what you "feel." Right?

It is no longer intellectually honest for you as a professional law enforcement veteran to continue to falsely predict what "tragedies" might happen - instead, it is the duty of all responsible security officers to report what actually has happened. I challenge you to do so. Otherwise, like Dan Rather insisting upon his version of the "truth" on those fabricated papers, you risk losing your credibility to those who know the real truth is so easily researched.

Rick Schwartz

P.S. Steve Chapman, a liberal columnist on the editorial board of the Chicago Tribune, took up the challenge. The Trib is perhaps the most gun-hating newspaper in the most gun-hating city in the country, but here is what Steve found out when he honestly looked at the issue of CCW.

Following is the June 2001 column:

Michigan's threat from concealed weapons

Chicago Tribune
June 28, 2001

If you plan a trip to Michigan, you may want to check your life insurance policy, update your will and don your body armor. Come Sunday, unless the state supreme court intervenes, it will start letting residents get permits to carry concealed weapons. Gun-control advocates are braced for the worst.

"I can guarantee you that I've honked my last horn at an intersection in Michigan," former prosecutor L. Brooks Patterson told the Tribune's Tim Jones. A disgusted Oakland County official threatened to put up billboards saying "Welcome to Dodge City." Police groups say their members will be in jeopardy from "more guns in more and more locations."

Of course Michigan is already a risky place to honk your horn. Its homicide rate has long been well above the national average. Detroit currently places third in the ongoing competition to be the murder capital of the United States. And things can only get much worse if lots of Michiganders take to packing heat, right?

The assumption is that if we let ordinary folks arm themselves, they'll soon be blasting away over every traffic altercation or Little League umpiring dispute. Take an ordinary confrontation, add gunpowder, and bad things are bound to happen.

But are they? It's not as though this is a radical experiment that has never been tried before. In fact, some 33 states already have laws making it possible for most citizens to carry a concealed firearm. If allowing this practice leads to anarchy, we would probably have noticed it by now. In fact, serious misconduct by concealed-weapon permit holders is comparatively rare.

In Texas, which has 215,582 licensees, only 178 people have lost their permits due to felony convictions since 1996. Only three have gone to jail for murder or attempted murder. Florida, one of the first states to embark on this experiment, issued more than 72,000 licenses in the past year, while revoking only 241.

Indiana, which has about 350,000 permit holders, canceled 921 last year, or about one-fourth of 1 percent of the total. Maj. Karen Butts, commander of the records division of the state police, says, "I can't think of any that were revoked for a firearms homicide." Among Utah's 40,000 licensees, only five have lost their privileges because of a conviction for murder or attempted murder.

As for Michigan cops who think their jobs will be more dangerous, Yale law school scholar John Lott Jr. offers reassuring news: "There has never been a case where a person with a permitted concealed handgun has killed a police officer."

The Violence Policy Center, an anti-gun group, says Texas effectively furnishes permit holders a "license to kill, and kidnap, and rape, and drive drunk"--noting that hundreds of them have been arrested on various charges. But this proves only that the gun owners in question are endowed with the usual human imperfections. In any group of 215,000 people, you can expect some to run afoul of the law once in a while.

But gun permits don't increase the risk. Notes H. Sterling Burnett, a researcher at the National Center for Policy Analysis, a conservative think tank based in Dallas, "Licensees were 5.7 times less likely to be arrested for violent offenses than the general public."

The experience supports the claim of gun-rights advocates that people who get permits tend to be peaceable sorts. It's not hard to guess why. In the first place, background checks are required, and permits are denied to those with felony convictions (or some types of misdemeanor convictions) and those with a history of serious mental illness. In the second, applicants have to undergo extensive training in safe firearms use.

Rules like those tend to screen out the violent, the lawless and the deranged. Anyone with strong criminal inclinations, after all, doesn't need a permit for a concealed weapon. A lot of crooks make a habit of carrying a piece without asking permission.

Those thugs who live in Michigan aren't any more likely to pack heat if the state issues concealed-weapon licenses. The permits will generally go to upstanding citizens, who aren't likely to resort to deadly force when someone cuts in line at the grocery store. People who obey the law before they are allowed to carry a gun usually obey the law after they are allowed to carry a gun. They aren't out to hurt anyone--merely to prevent anyone from hurting them or their loved ones.

So the new law may pose a threat to those engaged in a life of crime. But other residents of Michigan have no reason to worry. If they're looking for Dodge City, they'll have to go to Kansas.

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