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An Op-Ed featured in the Houston Chronicle:

Viewpoints, Outlook

More armed Texans only help create a safer state
Guns in responsible hands can make all the difference

By JERRY PATTERSON
Copyright 2007 Houston Chronicle

A recent Chronicle editorial predicted removing restrictions on concealed carry of handguns in certain locations is a "formula for bloodshed" and would fuel the "domestic arms race."

In opposing the concealed handgun law in 1995, the language was similar. "Blood in the streets," a return to the "Wild West," and "shootouts at every four way stop."

None of this occurred. Since then, little has changed.

The tragedy at Virginia Tech reignited this debate and again demonstrated how clueless the anti-self defense crowd can be. Once again, emotional pleas, not thoughtful consideration of the facts, fuel the editorial process.

Everyone wants to keep Texans safe from crazed gunmen, be it at school or work or play. The best way to do this isn't through emotional reactions. Like most problems, it requires some thought.

John Lott, a noted economist and professor at State University of New York at Binghamton, conducted a study and found states with legally armed citizens have substantially lower crime rates.

More specifically, Lott found when a deranged shooter takes aim at the public, the body count is consistently lower when armed citizens are nearby. Lott studied multiple-victim shootings in all 50 states from 1977 to 1999, excluding shootings that were a byproduct of other crimes, such as robbery.

"When states passed (concealed carry laws) the number of multiple-victim public shootings declined by 60 percent," Lott wrote. "Deaths and injuries by 78 percent. Shootings still occur in places like schools, where guns are illegal."

A look at the real-life events behind these kinds of numbers is revealing.

In 1997, a 16-year-old in Pearl, Miss., took a rifle to school and shot nine students, killing two. His spree was cut short when an assistant principal got his .45 caliber semiautomatic pistol. Held at gunpoint, the deranged teen quickly surrendered.

In 1998, a 14-year-old in Edinboro, Pa., shot a teacher in the head with a stolen .25 caliber pistol at a dance. The teacher died and the student continued firing at his fellow students. The owner of the facility where the dance was being held grabbed his shotgun and chased the boy down. At gunpoint, the youth dropped his weapon and surrendered.

In 2002, a 42-year-old law school student who had just been kicked out of the Appalachian School of Law in Grundy, Va., returned with a .380 ACP semiautomatic handgun. He killed the dean, a professor and a student before being tackled by a former Marine and fellow student as two other students held him at gunpoint with their own handguns, which they had retrieved from their cars.

Most newspaper readers, however, never heard about the armed citizens who stopped the 2002 shooting in Grundy.

A Lexis-Nexis search by James Eaves-Johnson, writing for the student paper at the University of Iowa, found 88 stories on the shooting a week later. Only two stories mentioned the armed students.

A Yale researcher found 687 articles on the school shooting in Pearl, Miss., Eaves-Johnson reported. Of those, only 19 mentioned that the assistant principal used his .45 caliber semiautomatic to obtain the shooter's surrender before police arrived.

The more places responsible Texans are allowed to carry their weapons — be they police, principals and, yes, even concealed handgun license holders — the safer we'll all be. The facts are clear.

Patterson, a Republican, is commissioner of the Texas General Land Office.

The article along with reader feedback can be found at; http://www.chron.com/disp/story.mplok/4787512.html

- Janq

P.S. - Take an extra moment to read the feedback as well.
 

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that was a damn good read - feedback included
 
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