letters to the editor

Response to an Aug. 24 letter to the editor

I hate to see erroneous information go unchallenged, so I feel compelled to respond to the incorrect assertions and distortions in the Letters to the Editor in the Thursday, Aug. 24 edition of the farragutpress by Ms. Plawchan [The new female chair of the Fifth District Democrats] and Mr. Battistelli [who is not a resident of Farragut].

As one who has followed closely and with great interest the Concealed Carry Permit movement across the nation over the last 30 some years I can tell you that the overwhelming preponderance of actual, hard statistical data gathered by government agencies over that period conclusively and inarguably demonstrates a reduction in violent crime, and particularly firearms-related crimes, in states where these laws have been enacted.

This is directly the reverse of Ms. Plawchan’s claim, which she bases solely on a widely discredited, unpublished and un-reviewed 2017 Stanford University [Northern California] “study.”

This “study,” which wouldn’t pass the laugh test for most people, draws its conclusions from self-described “synthetic data” contrived by its author, Dr. John J. Donohue, which purports to refute the actual data compiled for decades by reputable sources such as the U.S. Department of Justice Statistics, the F.B.I., B.A.T.F.E, etc. There is a reason that over two-thirds of published, peer-reviewed studies find that right-to-carry laws reduce violent crime rates in the U.S. [crimeresearch.org/2014/11/do-right-to-carry-laws-reduce-violent-crime/] No other study by an economist, criminologist or law professor has claimed that US violent crime rose after right-to-carry laws were adopted.

This type of propaganda is routinely circulated by known purveyors of virulently biased information such as anti-gun zealot organizations funded by former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, George Soros, etc. posing as grassroots local organizations. So it is necessary to carefully fact check.

It is no accident that the state legislatures in nearly all 50 states recognizing the undeniable benefits to public safety of licensed concealed carry have enacted “shall issue” legislation with universally beneficent results. With 16 million permit holders across 50 states, it is telling that not one state has ever held a legislative hearing to consider rescinding right-to-carry laws. Further, the U.S. Supreme Court has upheld and supported them. And surveys of police show that over 90 percent of officers consistently support such laws. Really now, would this have happened if there was any increase in crime where these laws are enacted? For those invested in reality, the readily verifiable facts are:

1. Since the initiation of right-to-carry laws and the accompanying unprecedented proliferation of firearms ownership, gun-related crime is down dramatically. In fact, a recently completed study by the government’s own Bureau of Justice Statistics found that between 1993 and 2016 gun homicides dropped a stunning 49 percent and non-fatal gun crimes dropped by 70 percent.

2. As a demographic group, licensed carry permit holders are the most law-abiding group in the nation and are over 100 times less likely to be involved in a gun-related crime than the average citizen. In fact, the statistics show that you are 6 times more likely to be wrongly shot by police than by a carry permit holder.

3. Most mass murders, including the headline-grabbing recent horrific crimes in Newtown, Aurora, San Bernardino and Orlando, occurred in just the sort of pretend “gun-free” zones-of-opportunity that these well-meaning-but-misguided folks seek to inflict on our citizens.

4. Firearms are used over two million times each year in the United States by individual citizens in self-defense to deter crimes, often without ever a shot being fired.

5. A March 2013 survey of 400,000 law enforcement officers nationwide with over 15,000 respondents showed that: more than 76 percent indicated that legally armed citizens are important to reducing crime. Eighty percent believe legally armed citizens can reduce casualties in incidents of mass violence. More than 91 percent stated they supported the right to carry by law-abiding Americans.

So, let me clarify my simple request. After collaboration with my constituents and much thought and study on the matter, and noticing the changed signage on the doors of Farragut Town Hall prohibiting firearms, I think it would be satisfactory to simply add the words beneath the existing signage “Concealed carry by licensed Handgun Carry Permit holders excepted” or “Lawful Concealed Carry Only.” I agree with most of the correspondents that people find the sight of a firearm in a public area alarming and unnecessarily provocative except in the possession of a uniformed peace officer and I am in no way advocating for “open carry.”

Just because drunks are not allowed to drive on the highway does not mean that I should not be allowed to have an airbag or wear my seatbelt. Our Constitution guarantees us the right to protect our own life and liberty in whatever way we feel most effective. If the Town is unwilling to invest in the necessary security options to assure your safety, that does not mean that you should be willing to surrender those rights when you enter Town property.

Robert N. Markli

Alderman Ward 1