(Richmond Times Dispatch) "I don't know if there's anything disproven by those numbers," says state Sen. Donald McEachin, a gun-control advocate who is evidently hoping to become the poster child for confirmation bias. McEachin was referring to Sunday's Times-Dispatch story about Virginia's law allowing concealed-carry permit holders to bring their firearms into bars and restaurants. Contrary to widespread predictions, the measure has not turned the streets into rivers of blood.
In fact, since the measure passed, the number of gun-related crimes in bars and restaurants has fallen. The drop may be mere coincidence. But contrary to McEachin's doubts, it does indeed disprove something: It disproves the dire pronouncements of those who opposed the measure during the years it was being debated.
For instance, chiefs of police from around the state joined Virginia Beach Police Chief Jake Jacocks in calling the bill "a recipe for disaster." Virginia Beach Mayor Will Sessoms agreed, terming it "stupid" and "a fatal mistake." The Virginia Center for Public Safety, a gun-control advocacy group, accused state lawmakers of putting narrow special interests "above the safety of Virginia's families." Salon magazine said Virginia "is permitting residents to carry concealed weapons at pizza joints full of little-league teams where people drink pitchers of beer and get in fights over Redskins games."
If the critics had been right, then gun crimes in bars and restaurants should have skyrocketed. Instead, they fell.
This is not surprising. Time and again, the public has been warned that broadening the scope of gun rights will lead — automatically, as it were — to an increasing incidence of bloodshed. It happened when Florida passed its concealed-carry law, and when other states followed suit. It happened when the Supreme Court upheld an individual right to carry firearms, and again when the high court applied that ruling to cities beyond the District of Columbia. Time and time again, the prediction has been proven wrong.
More guns might not lead to less crime; deterrence is a very hard thing to prove. But this much is clear: More guns do not lead to more crime. Virginia's experience with its concealed-carry law fits a long-running pattern. Unfortunately, most gun-control advocates probably will wave away any data that do not support their dubious hypothesis, just as McEachin has. That is a long-running pattern, too.