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Seeing the Light: Concealed Carry Support Growing

by Brian McCombie   |  November 2nd, 2012 32

Anti-gunners claimed increased concealed carry would endanger public safety, but that didn’t happen, and now CCW has lots of support.

In 2001, Michigan became a “shall issue” state for concealed carry, meaning that any adult who meets the qualifications for the permit is supposed to receive the permit (versus “may issue” where a judge or county sheriff decides if a permit should be awarded, with criteria that can vary widely). Before shall-issue became the law in that state, there was a rather fierce battle fought in Michigan’s political and media circles.

“Blood in the Streets! Shootout at the OK Corral,” says attorney Steve Dulan, remembering the rhetoric of shall-issue opponents read in newspaper editorials and heard in testimony before various legislative committees. Michigan, they swore, would see dead bodies galore if shall-issue was passed.

Armageddon never happened. In fact, an opponent of shall-issue—who represents a Michigan law enforcement association that opposed the change—recently confided to Dulan, “I gotta admit, we were completely wrong about that ‘blood in the streets thing.’ ”

Today, 401,000 Michigan citizens have active Concealed Pistol Licenses or CPLs, with half of those permits awarded in the last five years. Problems with CPLs? Very few. And it appears many people here now understand that good guys can and do legally carry concealed firearms.

Dulan says that in the Michigan media, among everyday people and even with the law students he teaches at Cooley Law School in Lansing, the view of handguns and the people who carry them are more positive than he’s ever seen.

“Of course, not everyone thinks this way,” says Dulan, who is on the board of Michigan Coalition for Responsible Gun Owners. “But most of the fear is gone, and people are much more accepting of CPLs. It’s hard to argue that the CPL is a bad thing when your relative or your neighbor has one—and you know they’re good people.”

Polls and surveys reveal a positive view of concealed carry at the national level, too.

In April, a poll done by the research organization Ipsos found a majority were in favor of concealed carry. When specifically asked if they supported or opposed, “Laws allowing law-abiding citizens to get a permit to carry a concealed weapon,” total support was at 75 percent; 49 percent of respondents “strongly supported” the law. Just 13 percent opposed.

The Ipsos poll also found that 67 percent supported laws which allowed “citizens to use deadly force to protect themselves from danger in public places.”

That’s quite a turnaround. In 1959, the Gallup Organization reported that 60 percent of the Americans it surveyed favored a ban on civilian possession of handguns. Fortunately, that has changed—dramatically. As Gallup noted in 2011, “since 1975, the majority of Americans have opposed such a [handgun ban], with opposition around 70 percent in recent years.”

Why the about-face? Growing numbers of people with concealed-carry permits is a key reason, says well-known Second Amendment advocate and author David Kopel.

Currently, 41 states have shall-issue or a similar carry permitting process, Kopel notes. “This means that, at the shopping mall, at restaurants and just walking on the sidewalk, a certain percentage of people are going to be practicing concealed carry.”

Concealed carry has been widely covered by the media, albeit usually in a negative manner. So even though most people don’t practice concealed carry, these same people are still very aware that it is occurring in public.

“And their obvious experience is that law-abiding people with guns are not incipient maniacs,” says Kopel. “That people who avail themselves of the right to practice concealed carry simply are not a problem.”

Why, then, the very anti-handgun responses (indeed, anti-firearms in general) that Gallup polled in the past? As Kopel points out, from about 1960 and into the 1990s, anti-gun groups such the Brady Center kept insisting that guns were bad, people who had them were untrustworthy, and therefore ever more restrictions were needed.

While gun owners understood the lies here, people with little to no gun experience often accepted what they heard at face value. Guns were bad!

But the 1990s saw the tide begin to shift, starting with the Clinton-era assault weapons ban and the political backlash it caused for those who had voted for this law, led by the National Rifle Association and other Second Amendment groups. The courts saw a stream of cases challenging anti-gun laws, too, culminating with the Supreme Court ruling in Heller v. District of Columbia in 2008 that the Second Amendment was an individual, Constitutional right.

Meanwhile, Second Amendment advocates were pushing their state legislatures for more shall-issue laws. Anti-gunners began their “blood in the streets” chants. Yet as more states went to shall-issue, such claims were easy to dispute. Concealed-carry permits increased, and there were very few problems. Turns out, Kopel notes, that people with these permits are actually more law-abiding than the norm.

“These extremely pessimistic and negative views of people, as expressed by the anti-gun groups, no longer carry the weight they once did,” Kopel says.

If you think a societal view doesn’t matter, consider two separate events from last June. In Wisconsin, where concealed carry became the law in November of 2011, the state agency administering carry permits asked the legislature for an extra $780,000. Seems the agency has been overwhelmed with applications, more 120,000 in eight months and had to hire some 30 extra people to keep up with demand.

At the very same time, just north of the border, in anti-gun Canada? Anti-gunners were calling for a complete ban on civilian ownership of handguns, with some politicians lending their support to the idea.

  • T.D. Honeycutt

    I don't disagree with your facts, nor the rationale behind concealed carry. I have been licensed to carry since Texas first enacted shall-issue, and continue today in Arkansas. I carry as often as I can.
    What I disagree with is the second headline on your article – Concealed carry continues to gain acceptance despite the baseless fears of anti-gunners – and here's why.
    The fears of anti-gunners are not baseless. I interact with non-gun people constantly, and I don't believe we should wave off their views simply because they don't square with ours. I recall having an argument about hollow-point ammo with an non-gun person who was also a friend. He thought it was cruel to make rounds so devastating, until I pointed out they were designed to stay in the bad guys and not endanger a good guy. When he understood that, he no longer had an argument against hollow-point ammo. It's our job to educate them, not mock them and make fun of them (not that your article did that)
    Make the arguments civil, but make the arguments. I simply tell people who are opposed that they don't have to exercise that right, but don't eliminate my right. No bluster, no ad hominem attacks, no drawing mustaches on the faces of liberal politicians. But make all the relevant points.

    • John Irvin

      I completly agree with the statements of Mr. Honeycutt. If the NRA had spent money within the realm of educating the masses on the need to carry, and the need to protect against the criminal and, now, mentally ill element in our society, perhaps we would not be in the very dangerous position we are now in with the aftermath of the shootings in Conneticut. Instead, they seemed to be putting all their money toward the defeat of Obama, which these funds have now been totally wasted, and the general public is still mostly ignorant and even now hostile to the gun owner.

    • Paul

      Very good point. It is refreshing to read comments from a rational carrier. I carry too, but don't mock or taunt those who do not share our view. It is up to the individual regardless of their philosophy. I have many friends who would never carry, and many who do. It is always up to the individual!

  • Ross Walters

    Most of us will never have to use deadly force to protect ourselves nor family members.
    On the other hand the possibility of a life-threatening attack is real.

    I can't help but use the fire-extinguisher example for comparison.
    Your house will probably not catch fire, but if it does you have the necessary tool to deal with it.

    Some local businesses have signs posted prohibiting concealed-carry…I observe those mini 'gun-bans' by refusing to shop at their stores. Maybe they don't miss my shopping dollars. I don't know.

    One thing I DO know, there was a sign posted on the door of the Azana Spa in Wisconsin that read: 'No Firearms Allowed' and a picture of a handgun with a red diagonal line drawn through it. That was the same door an armed assailant used to enter the building and shoot and kill three women while wounding four others.
    They were 'sitting ducks'.

    I'm hoping acceptance of concealed-carry grows and that soon Reciprocity legislation will be passed allowing law-abiding citizens the right to protect themselves no matter where they travel within the United States.

    • needmore


      • Ross Walters

        I brought the left side of a wooden grip (not the whole pistol) to a 'Things Remembered' kiosk at the local mall to find out about engraving a small 'symbol' on it.

        The clerk asked, "what is that thing" and I explained it was a part of a gun.
        She immediately retorted that 'Things Remembered' will not touch any part of a firearm.
        I asked to talk to a manager and she said, "I AM the manager".

        I emailed their headquarters (they are a nationwide chainstore) and they refused to make a statement.
        Every time I pass that kiosk I notice they have no customers. They'd rather go broke than 'touch' a gun or a gun part.

        My point is that some businesses and businessmen refuse to be 'enlightened' on the subject of guns no matter what the consequence.

        • needmore

           <DIV>MR. WALTERS,,i don't know what part of the country you are in,,but i hate to hear the the public have to make a choice between safety for their family and feeding some fat cat and their companypocket with cash that you have worked so hard to earn..i did'nt know apistol grip was considered a dangerous piece of equiptment….good luck on finding another place to do business….</DIV> <DIV style=”FONT: 10pt arial”>

        • Robert

          I find that funny. Because I had that same company in Alabama, engrave on 14 knives for gifts. I never heard one word of concern! These were not tiny little pocket knives!

      • Armed Okie

        Totally agree. In a Concealed Carry state the less that store owner knows the better…… I will boycott Autozone from now on as long as Devon Mclean remains unemployed by those lawsuit fearing gun-free zone fools. He not only saved the life of his manager and fellow employees, he also was giving the criminal and future robbers notice of an armed and well defended store until he was fired for his efforts. HEY ROBBERS! AUTOZONE IS A GUN FREE ZONE!!! I won't be in there without my gun. In fact ….I won't be there at all because of their treatment of an armed hero. Armed Okie.

    • Bob01721

      "… Some local businesses have signs posted prohibiting concealed-carry…"
      Here in Florida, those signs carry no legal weight.

  • NEILl


    • Keenan Eugene Lee

      I do feel for the residents of CA deeply on the laws of guns. I do have one response though, why do you guys keep reelected the officials that ban them. Replace every single politician with a gun friendly attitude and change or eliminate the laws. Repeal them. I just stay away from CA altogether. I laugh at the commercials that promote CA as warm and inviting.

      • tryingtofixignorance

        (Side note) A rampant truth within our country is the minimal lackadaisical concern people have within their own state politics. Liberal or conservative state, there is no change. Currently in the state of texas there is a growing situation in which our state politicians are, in fact, not in attendance for the sessions in which they are "voting" in fact civilian video shows that other politicians are voting for one another in their absences. The truth of the matter is voter ignorance is and has been the most threatening issue to our constitutional freedoms. Don't believe me. Try exercising your freedom of speech in a well trafficked public area without a permit and see what happens.
        (p.s. for those of you with posts in all caps, while your arguments are so far valid your font creates a demeanor of ignorance. please don't hurt a good cause.)

  • Larry Walton

    Here in New South Wales (Australia), You can own handguns & long arms but you need a genuine reason to own a firearm. Which can only be used for target, hunting vermin, primary producer or collection.
    You need a physical problem & doctor's certificate to use an auto shotgun, but only for clay target shooting, unless you are a primary producer. You are legally not allowed to put more than 2 shells in at one time!
    Handguns are only allowed for target shooting & most target shooting is restricted to under .357.
    No .45cal unless shooting metallic Silhouette.
    You can't even think about protecting your family from intruders
    Protection is not a genuine reason to owning a firearm.
    Australia was a normal gun loving country, but a previous govt. demonised gun owners/hunters & bought all the guns in the country (most of them) for 3 times the price they were worth.
    It is hard to deal with this madness, so hang on to your 2 amendment, we forgot to put it in our constitution & looked what happened.

    • Lopaka Kanaka

      Hello Larry: Your country in Australia New South Wales sounds like a place where you need another way to protect your family without any firearms. I hope you do not have intruders in your area? Is it legal to have a compound bow or a crossbow to protect your family? Can you purchase a electric stun gun for home protection? I have several 45 AP for my family protection and have not used it yet. Our local law here allow us to have CCW because we are out of the area from large cities. We have bears and mountian lions that are in the area all the time.

      • Richard Banfield

        Hello Lopaka, I am not aware of the laws on Compound bows but in Victoria (Australia) permits are required for Crossbows, and Electric Stun Guns (Tasers) are forbidden.

  • jeepers creepers

    The first year Clinton was in office I received my first CCW. I have renewed it when needed ever since.
    You could open carry any where and any place. It is written into my states Constitution. The law was redefined in 2003 so every law abiden person could carry concealed with a permit. Any Company that did not want weapons on their land had to post it. But even with a FBI background check their are states that do not except my CCW. But how and why do retired law enforcement people get a national CCW permit? I guess it is one hand washing the other. Mine doesn't matter.

  • BigTex

    50000 deaths a year by handguns here in the US – maybe a hundred in Canada? Is it possible they know something we haven't figured out? Or are we such cowards that we cannot feel safe without good old Ironsides strapped to our hip? Just sayin'…….

    • Chris

      Big Tex ,you need to get your "Facts "somewhere other than from gun control web sites ;and the majority of the criminal shootings are in the cities with the strongest gun control laws And honest ,law abiding Americans have nothing to fear from those of us who carry CONCEALED ! Far from it, because ,as a group ,we are more law abiding than the adverage……Just sayin' !

    • UtahCCW

      Yes, and they also have 2x the violent crime like rape and assault per capita. We have more deaths because the rapists don't survive their escapades. It follows that more guns equals more gun crime. It also follows that fewer guns in the hands of law abiding citizens, equals more violent crimes against law abiding citizens.

    • John Irvin

      Personally, I feel that a big reason for the difference between the two is the "safety net" of help the Canadians have for the poor and the disenfranchised. The need and desperation that so often accompanies crime is just not there.

  • lou58lou

    I think every adult should be required to attend a gun safety course. I think most adults who are afraid of firearms have never been exposed to them and only see the thugs using them. Criminals will ALWAYS be able to get their hands on weapons. If they know everyone is carrying, they will be less likely to start trouble, they could end up severely injured or dead. Statistics show conceal and carry people are more accurate than law enforcement in their shooting (practice makes perfect).

    • UtahCCW

      I'm glad there are no requirements because those who wish not to carry have that right. I agree it's a familiarity issue. But you can't force people to become acquainted with firearms.

  • Mike

    Being a retired Law Enforcement Officer and residing in Michigan, more CCW permits are being issued now than ever before. One does not hear of people with permits having a run in with the law, with the exception of a few DUIS that were carrying while intoxicated. No robberies, no shoot outs at the OK corral, and no one being taken hostage. The law is working just fine and they have redefined it that retired Lawenforcement can get a life time permit. It saves a lot of time, and money for the permits not to be renewed..

    • UtahCCW

      Saves retired law enforcement time and money. Everyone else gets screwed as usual. Just another case of government scratching governments back.

  • Howard

    Back in 64 i got a Honda 250 motorcycle, had the same problems with them, if you rode a bike everyone thought you were part of the motorcycle gangs

  • shootbrownelk

    Today some maniac killed 2 students at Casper college here in Casper,Wyoming…with ARCHERY weaponry. The coward then killed himself it was reported. Too bad someone in the classroom wasn't carrying, the outcome may have been very different. I guess lunatics will use whatever means to carry out their murderous acts, and it can happen anywhere.

  • Glockman

    how did he kill himself with archery weapon?

  • John

    Well here in Nevada CCW is alive and well. Most people are ok with it. I've heard that more women in our state have CCW 's than men, good for them.I would rather go into a coffee shop that was full of carrying patrons than one that was not.

  • John Irvin

    With the hysteria over the tragedy in CT, it is so very important that we call our Congressmen and voice LOUDLY our disapproval of the coming changes in gun laws. We need to be as vocal as the anti-gunners and begin a strong education campaign in gun safety and personal protection.

  • Dr. Ray Spencer

    It is not surprising that problems arise here in Los Angeles. I am a prior law Enforcement officer which included 8 years as a federal narcotics agent here in Los Angeles and 6 years as a street cop in the state of Washington. While working narcotics here in California I was involved in arresting Mexican Cartel figures as well as those involved in the Columbian narcotics trade. I had many death threats that came with the job. While working as a street cop in Washington, I went inside an outlaw biker gang where my identity became known as a cop and we had to have the SWAT team evacuate my wife and children when bikers started showing up at my house. Needless to say, my CCW was issued without question in Washington and then I moved back to Los Angeles. Approximately a year ago I started the process of attempting to obtain my CCW in Los Angeles County i.e. LAPD. I met with the gun unit and provided them with my justification regarding the cartels and the outlaw biker situation. In addition I provided documentation that I had been the assistant SWAT team commander for my department, had attended both the FBI's basic and advanced SWAT Team schools, took an officer survival course with SEAL Team one, that I was on the range every two weeks, had qualified as an alternate snyper with my department and had a current copy of the CCW out of the state of Washington. The officer even commented that my qualifications far exceeded the majority of the officers in LAPD. I waited for a response and on the 89th day I received a form letter that would be sent to any john doe that thought that carrying a weapon would be fun telling me that if I had any problems call them! Oh but they have an appeal process now made up of a board of civilians. I filed the appeal and that farce has been going on for 7 months now. The last time I spoke with the women I asked her was it going to take finding my family in a ditch with their heads cut of to make a difference! She gave me her standard reply, "I will look into it." That was back before the holidays so I guess it is time to waste another phone call. So the bottom line is that for all of you that have politicians that can see the light of day I congratulate you. Unfortunately, in sunny California the sun does not shine everywhere.

  • Mea Tmycomputer


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