July 2, 2002
STATEMENT FROM TEXAS STATE RIFLE ASSOCIATION
From James Dark, Executive Director
Texas State Rifle Association
RICHARDSON, TEXAS and COLUMBUS, OHIO -- Texans often have unusual and
colorful ways of dismissing the views of their adversaries in debate. Famed
Texas hero Sam Houston once attributed a political opponent’s differing views
as being the result of the man’s use of "water as a beverage."
I must confess to having similar thoughts when I recently saw the information
released by the Violence Policy Center in its dramatically titled "License
to Kill IV." This study uses skewed statistics and misinformation about the
Texas Concealed Handgun Law to make the case to the citizens of Ohio and their
elected representatives that these laws are a recipe for disaster.
The truth of the matter is that the exact opposite is true. Since the passage
of the law, Texas is a safer place. Violent crime is down.
The Violence Policy Center used statistics from the Texas Department of
Public Safety, which show the raw number of arrests of Concealed Handgun License
Holders since the law went into effect on January 1, 1996. There are a number of
significant problems with these statistics:
• The statistics used by the VPC are for arrests,
not convictions. These arrest statistics were recently compelled by state law
to be removed from the DPS website and replaced with CONVICTION rates. To this
day, the website simply contains a notice that the mandated information is
"coming soon." The VPC is not interested in these new statistics
because they will show that only 26% of CHL holders have ever been convicted
of the crime of which they are accused, thus making VPC’s small problem even
• By using the number of arrests (as opposed to
convictions), 5,314, with no comparison to anything else, they attempt to
bring about a knee-jerk reaction because that SOUNDS like a big number. But in
fact, when compared to the large number of CHL holders in Texas (about a
quarter million), it creates a minute percentage. Further, when compared to
the general population, CHL holders are 7.5 times LESS likely to commit a
crime than someone without a permit. There is a good reason that this
comparison wasn’t made. It doesn’t fit their spin.
• The VPC cites figures that CHL holders are
arrested at a rate higher than the general population for firearms related
offenses. In most cases, if a CHL holder uses a firearm to defend himself,
they will be placed under arrest. Even in the most justifiable of situations
where deadly force is applied, it falls upon the proper authorities and grand
juries to decide if charges will be pursued against a CHL holder. That CHL
holders are arrested for weapons related offenses at a higher rate than the
general population should surprise nobody. They have a much higher percentage
of firearms than the general population. What the VPC will not share with you
is how many of these CHL holders have ever been CONVICTED of a
firearms-related offense. Again, it just doesn’t fit their spin.
When Texas elected to pass a Concealed Handgun License Bill, it took a great
step forward in allowing its citizens to exercise their inherent right to
self-defense. The Texas law is one of the strictest in the nation, in regards to
the qualifications needed to obtain the license. CHL holders in Texas are among
the most scrutinized segment of our state’s population. Licensees have passed
state and federal background checks, fingerprint checks, complied with all tax
and child support requirements, attend classes and pass a written test on all
pertinent state laws, and pass a qualification test to ensure their competence
with their weapon. Texas also has the highest licensing fee in the nation, at
$140. The required classes focus on safety, responsibility, conflict resolution
and use of a weapon as an absolute LAST RESORT.
The VPC also attempts to paint Texas CHL holders as criminals. Karen Brock of
the VPC actually states that, "license holders are committing crimes, not
preventing them." This statement is utter hogwash. There was never any
expectation that every CHL holder would attain an infallible level of perfection
and live a life free of sin. The fact that our CHL holders are statistically far
safer than the general population speaks volumes about the efficacy of our
Brock also has no data to back up her statement that crimes are not being
prevented. Normally people calling themselves "analysts" require
something called "data." There simply are no statistics kept by anyone
on crimes prevented by CHL holders. So how did Ms. Brock come up with this
allegation? The answer is simple. In true VPC style, she made it up.
I called Ms. Brock and asked what data she used to support this statement. In
the end, she admitted that there was none, and that it was "just more
rhetoric." This statement did not surprise me, but I think that it might
have shocked those who rely on the Violence Policy Center for their information.
The vast majority of incidents in Texas are resolved without gunplay. Almost
without exception, incidents involving CHL holders de-escalate the instant that
a handgun is produced. Far from the "rivers of blood" that critics
said would flow down our streets, we have in fact had nothing of the sort.
Hopefully, the people of Ohio will see the shenanigans of the Violence Policy
Center for what they are and see the true success story of the Texas Concealed
Handgun License law. Texas is a safer place today than it was in 1995. Ohio can
be a safer place next year if their legislators come up with a reasonable way to
allow their law-abiding citizens to exercise their inherent right to defend
themselves from criminals.
Contact: James Dark is the Executive Director of the Richardson, Texas
based Texas State Rifle Association. For more information on the TSRA, see their
website at www.tsra.com. For more information
or to verify the author of this document, call (972)889-8772, or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
Violence Policy Center's history of distorting the truth and outright lying
has been well-documented. For more information on these gun-banning phonies,
feel free to visit KeepAndBearArms.com's VPC Archives by going here: http://www.KeepAndBearArms.com/VPC.