Can't Bear It


"More and more people–including responsible gun owners–want to see some reasonable gun control," says Sen. Carol Moseley-Braun. But her idea of what's reasonable may not be shared by responsible gun owners.

The Illinois Democrat is running for re-election against a Republican state senator who says law-abiding citizens should be allowed to carry handguns if they undergo 50 hours of firearms training. In response, Moseley-Braun has been bragging about her cosponsorship of the Concealed Weapons Prohibition Act.

Introduced last year by Sen. Frank Lautenberg (D-N.J.), the act would override the laws of 31 states that allow citizens who meet certain objective criteria–typically, passing a criminal background check and completing a training course–to carry handguns. Lautenberg's bill recognizes a few privileged categories, including cops and security guards; anyone else seeking a carry permit would have to demonstrate "compelling circumstances."

Despite decades of experience with liberal permit laws, there is scant evidence to support the bill's assertion that "the public carrying of handguns increases the level of gun violence by enabling the rapid escalation of otherwise minor conflicts into deadly shootings." As University of Chicago economist John R. Lott shows in his new book More Guns, Less Crime, "right-to-carry" laws are not associated with increases in violence. If anything, he argues, allowing law-abiding citizens to carry guns helps deter crime.

But Moseley-Braun does not seem particularly concerned about the actual consequences of right-to-carry laws. "One would think that after the recent tragedies involving shootings at schools in Arkansas and Oregon," she said in July, "it would be clear that the last thing we need is legislation allowing people to carry concealed weapons in public places."

It's hard to understand the connection, since the accused shooters in these attacks did not have handgun permits. Even if they did, carrying firearms onto school grounds still would have been illegal. Finally, the main weapons involved were rifles, not handguns.