Setting aside its own lengthy history of paranoid rhetoric, the National Rifle Association has released a new video attacking Americans who oppose the carrying of guns in public as “paranoid” because they are afraid of an “inanimate object.”
But research shows that laws allowing concealed guns to be carried in public increase aggravated assaults. The permissive laws also worsen deficiencies in some states' permitting systems, meaning felons and other dangerous individuals are allowed to obtain concealed carry licenses.
In a September 24 NRA News commentary video, NRA News commentator Billy Johnson said, “If you are someone who legally carries a gun concealed, you are probably getting tired of being portrayed as paranoid. I know I am.”
After touting the supposed virtues of concealed carry, Johnson argued that people who oppose carrying guns in public are “paranoid” because they are afraid of “people who are legally exercising their right to bear arms” and “an inanimate object.”
JOHNSON: There are several valid and rational reasons that someone might choose to conceal carry. So to everyone out there who tries to portray this as paranoid thinking and evidence of an irrationally suspicious mind, consider this. What does it say about you that you are afraid of people who are legally exercising their right to bear arms? What does it say about you that your fear of an inanimate object, a gun, has led you to suspect everyone who chooses to own that object? And what does it say about you that you are afraid of the almost 10 million legal concealed carry gun owners in the U.S. who don't commit crimes every year? Who's the paranoid one now?
Johnson's commentary comes as the NRA continues to agitate for federal reciprocity legislation that would loosen concealed carry rules nationwide. Under reciprocity, states would be forced to recognize valid out-of-state conceal carry permits, even from states with low standards for issuing permits or ineffective permitting systems. Some states already practice reciprocity. Utah allows out-of-state individuals to obtain a Utah permit without ever entering the state. That permit is then valid in 32 states that recognize Utah's permit.
Contrary to Johnson's laudatory view of concealed carry, evidence-driven concerns about the practice have been raised. According to research from Stanford economists and law professors Ian Ayres and John Donohue, permissive concealed carry laws actually increase the incidence of aggravated assaults rather than reduce crime.
Since gun violence prevention group Violence Policy Center started tracking crimes committed by concealed carry permittees in May 2007, permittees have been responsible for at least 659 deaths (including the suicide of 190 permittees) and 29 mass shootings:
Investigations have revealed problems with permitting systems in Michigan, Texas, Tennessee, Indiana, and Florida. In the case of Florida, a 2007 investigation by the South Florida Sun-Sentinel found permits were issued to 1,400 “people who pleaded guilty or no contest to felonies,” 216 fugitives from justice, 28 people subject to domestic violence restraining orders, and six registered sex offenders.
The NRA itself routinely engages in paranoid rhetoric, whether it's the group's "massive Obama conspiracy" against gun owners that has yet to come to fruition or leader Wayne LaPierre's suggestion that owning a gun is necessary for survival.
At the group's most recent annual meeting LaPierre told audience members that “there is no greater freedom than the right to survive, to protect our families with all the rifles, shotguns and handguns we want,” before citing a litany of supposed threats including “knock-out gamers,” “haters,” and “vicious waves of chemicals or disease that could collapse the society that sustains us all.”