High violent crime rates kill lobby's argument that carrying a weapon will boost public safety By Maureen Downey The Atlanta Journal-Constitution Published on: 05/01/08 The gun lobby contends that Georgia will be a safer place if Gov. Sonny Perdue signs House Bill 89, which allows those with permits to carry concealed weapons on MARTA trains, in state parks and in restaurants that serve alcohol. But, of course, those lobbyists offer no facts to support their position, only the bumper-sticker argument that when guns are outlawed, only outlaws will have guns. Fortunately, that statement has been put to a real-life test. New York has enacted some of the strictest gun control laws in the country. The state requires people to obtain a license for handgun purchases. Unlike Georgia, New York is a "may issue" state, which means an applicant must show good cause or justifiable need for a concealed weapons permit and that law enforcement can refuse to issue such a permit. Here in Georgia, the probate court must issue the permit if the applicant meets statutory requirements. New York City goes even further than state law by limiting individual gun purchases to one every 90 days, maintaining a gun offender registry and requiring firearms dealers to review inventories and file reports with police twice a year. According to the Georgia gun lobby, law-abiding New Yorkers should now be at the mercy of well-armed criminals and violent crime should be rampant. Broadway and Park Avenue should be overrun with thugs and miscreants packing heat. After all, New York City has dramatically impeded the ability of law-abiding citizens to own firearms, which, according to the gun lobby calculus, should add up to more criminals with guns and more bodies of innocent people strewn in the streets. But in fact, New York now has the lowest crime rate among the 10 largest U.S. cities. Since 1991, violent crime has fallen 75 percent. Last year, gun homicides fell 22 percent; shootings dropped 16 percent. The city has 5,000 fewer police officers than in 2000. In other words, less access to guns has not translated to more gun crime. Fewer guns has meant less gun violence, not more. New York's progress is even more impressive when you consider the impact of guns brought in from beyond its borders. City police have found that 87 percent of guns recovered in crimes there —- including weapons used in 60 percent of the murders —- came to the Big Apple from other states with lax gun laws, including Georgia. New York is not the only reproof to the gun lobby fantasy that common-sense gun laws lead to more blood in the streets. The United States has more guns in private hands than any other developed nation, so if more guns make us safer, the United States should have a very low rate of violent crime. The opposite is true. In 2004, 11,344 Americans were murdered with a firearm. Compare that to Australia, where guns were used to murder 56 people, and to England and Wales, where guns were used in the murders of 73 people. The gun lobby explains those numbers by claiming that people in Australia and England are inherently more peaceable than Americans. But is the gun lobby now going to tell us that New Yorkers are more gentle and law-abiding than Georgians? In considering whether to veto HB 89, Perdue ought to rely on the facts, as have the governors of Arizona and Virginia, both of whom vetoed similar legislation in recent years. In April, the Tennessee Legislature killed its version of HB 89, with even gun advocates in the Legislature warning that guns and booze are a lethal mix. Perdue should look to his colleagues for inspiration and support, not to a gun lobby that offers fear-mongering rather than facts. —- Maureen Downey, for the editorial board ([email protected]) ------------------- Yes, guns are the one track item for tracking the reduction of crime. How about the mugging and rape numbers from New York over the same period. And, by her logic, how would she explain Washington D.C?