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July 09, 2014concealed.jpg

A new study finds that an increase in concealed carry permits has accompanied a decrease in murder. (AP)

A dramatic spike in the number of Americans with permits to carry concealed weapons coincides with an equally stark drop in violent crime, according to a new study, which Second Amendment advocates say makes the case that more guns can mean safer streets.

The study by the Crime Prevention Research Center found that 11.1 million Americans now have permits to carry concealed weapons, up from 4.5 million in 2007. The 146 percent increase has come even as both murder and violent crime rates have dropped by 22 percent.

“When you allow people to carry concealed handguns, you see changes in the behavior of criminals,” said the center’s president, John R. Lott, a Fox News contributor. “Some criminals stop committing crimes, others move on to crimes in which they don’t come into contact with victims and others actually move to areas where they have less fear of being confronted by armed victims.”

“When you allow people to carry concealed handguns, you see changes in the behavior of criminals.”- John R. Lott, Crime Prevention Research Center

Increasing gun ownership, litigation and new state laws have all contributed to the rise in concealed carry permits. In March, Illinois became the 50th state to begin issuing concealed weapons permits. But the cost and other requirements for obtaining the permits varies greatly, from South Dakota, where a permit requires $10, a background check and no training, to Illinois, where the cost of obtaining a permit comes to more than $600 when the fee and cost of training programs are taken into account.

Six states don’t require a permit for legal gun owners to conceal their weapons, and Lott notes those states have some of the lowest violent crime rates in the nation.

The real measure of the deterrent effect of concealed carry permits, according to Lott, is not laws on the books, but the percentage of a given state’s population that holds the permits. In 10 states, more than 8 percent of adults hold concealed carry permits, and all are among the states with the lowest crime rates. Lott claims his group’s analysis shows that each one percentage point increase in the adult population holding permits brings a 1.4 percent drop in the murder rate.

“We found that the size of the drop [in crime] is directly related to the percentage of the population with permits,” Lott said.

Between 2007 and the preliminary estimates for 2013, murder rates have fallen from 5.6 to 4.4 per 100,000.

Tod Burke, a former police officer and a professor of criminal justice at Radford University, in Radford, Va., said he doesn’t buy the idea that gun permits are driving the reduction in crime. Burke said several factors, including smarter, “data-driven” policing and increased incarceration of violent criminals likely play a bigger role.

“I think we have to be cautious about having a causal relationship between gun permits and a decrease in crime,” Burke said. “[Lott’s] theory is one to consider, but not to the exclusion of others.”

The report is the first tally of concealed carry permit holders since a survey in 2011 by the U.S. Government Accountability Office found that 8 million Americans held them.

The total of 11,113,013 Americans who currently hold concealed carry permits represents 4.8 percent of the total adult population. But the center stated that the number of concealed carry permit holders is likely much higher, because numbers are not available for all states that issue permits, such as New York. Additionally, four states and the majority of Montana do not require that residents have a concealed handgun permit to carry within the state, so the number of residents who carry a concealed weapon is not recorded.

Florida has the most active concealed carry permits, at nearly 1.3 million. Texas is second, at just more than 708,000, while Hawaii, at 183, has the fewest of states whose data was available.

Earlier this year, the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that California must allow law-abiding citizens to carry concealed firearms in public, striking down the core of the state’s permit system for handguns.  The judges found in a 2-1 holding that San Diego County’s rule that residents must show “good cause” — and not merely the desire to protect themselves — to obtain a concealed-weapons permit, violated their constitutional rights.

That ruling is awaiting an en banc review by the entire circuit.

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By Matthew Cox

The U.S. Army is moving forward to replace the Cold War-era M9 9mm pistol with a more powerful handgun that also meets the needs of the other services.

As the lead agent for small arms, the Army will hold an industry day July 29 to talk to gun makers about the joint, Modular Handgun System or MHS.

The MHS would replace the Army’s inventory of more than 200,000 outdated M9 pistols and several thousand M11 9mm pistols with one that has greater accuracy, lethality, reliability and durability, according to Daryl Easlick, a project officer with the Army’s Maneuver Center of Excellence at Fort Benning, Georgia.

“It’s a total system replacement — new gun, new ammo, new holster, everything,” Easlick said.

The Army began working with the small arms industry on MHS in early 2013, but the effort has been in the works for more than five years. If successful, it would result in the Defense Department buying more than 400,000 new pistols during a period of significant defense-spending reductions.

Army weapons officials maintain that combat troops need a more effective pistol and ammunition. But experts from the law-enforcement and competitive shooting worlds argue that tactical pistol ammunition — no matter the caliber — is incapable of stopping a determined adversary without multiple shots in most cases.

One of the major goals of the MHS effort is to adopt a pistol chambered for a more potent round than the current 9mm, weapons officials said. The U.S. military replaced the .45 caliber 1911 pistol with the M9 in 1985 and began using the 9mm NATO round at that time.

Soldiers who have served in Iraq and Afghanistan have complained that the 9mm round is not powerful enough to be effective in combat.

“The 9mm doesn’t score high with soldier feedback,” said Easlick, explaining that the Army, and the other services, want a round that will have better terminal effects — or cause more damage — when it hits enemy combatants. “We have to do better than our current 9mm.”

The MHS will be an open-caliber competition that will evaluate larger rounds such as .357 Sig, .40 S&W and .45 ACP.

The FBI and several major police departments recently decided to return to using the 9mm round after finding that .40 caliber ammunition was causing excessive wear on its service pistols. The heavier bullet and greater recoil over time resulted in frame damage to well respected makes such as Glock and Beretta, according to Ernest Langdon, a shooting instructor and respected competitive pistol shooter who has worked for gun makers such as Beretta, Smith & Wesson, and Sig Sauer.

“Most of the guns in .40 caliber on the market right now were actually designed to be 9mm originally and then turned into .40 calibers later,” Langdon told Military.com.

Langdon served 12 years in the Marine Corps where he was the chief instructor of the Second Marine Division Scout Sniper School and the High Risk Personnel Course. He’s been a competitive pistol shooter for 15 years where he has won competitions in the International Defensive Pistol Association and two World Speed Shooting titles.

Larger calibers, such as .40 S&W, have significantly more recoil than the 9mm making them much harder for the average shooter to shoot accurately, he said.

“I don’t think anybody would argue that shot placement is the most important for terminal ballistics,” Langdon said. “Even though you say a .45 is better than a 9mm, it’s still a pistol caliber. Chances are if it is a determined adversary, they are going to have to be shot multiple times regardless of the caliber.”

Many law-enforcement shooting incidents have shown this to be reality, he said.

“I talked to a Chicago cop that shot a guy eight times with a .45 to kill him and that was a 230 grain Hydra-Shok,” Langdon said. “And that guy now carries a 9mm …he realized that handgun bullets suck. “You have to shoot people a lot with a handgun.”

Langdon has trained numerous personnel from all branches of the U.S. military, FBI, Secret Service and other federal agencies as well as state and local law enforcement.

As part of the joint requirement process for MHS, Army weapons officials did a “very thorough cost-benefit analysis” that showed supported the effort, Easlick said.

“We have got an old fleet of M9s right now; it’s costing us more to replace and repair M9s than it would cost to go get a new handgun,” he said.

The Army spent years on an effort to search for a replacement for its M4 carbine, but ended up adopting the improved M4A1 version used by special operations forces.

Beretta officials maintain that the company has offered to upgrade M9 many times.

“We have submitted numerous changes or product improvements that really address a lot of the shortcomings that are either perceived or real,” said Gabe Bailey, Business development manager for Beretta’s military division.

The Marine Corps adopted the M9A1 in 2006 that features a rail for attaching lights or lasers, checkering on the front and back of the grip and a beveled magazine well for smoother magazine changes.

Some of the improvements Beretta offered included an enhanced sight system, changing the angle of the slide-mounted safety to avoid inadvertent safety activation and a threaded barrel, Bailey said.

Army officials, however, say the M9 does not meet the MHS requirement.

“The M9 doesn’t meet it for a multitude of reasons,” Easlick said. “It’s got reliability issues; the open slide design allows contaminates in. The slide-mounted safety doesn’t do well when you are trying to clear a stoppage — you inadvertently de-cock and safe the weapon system.”

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On Monday, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in a case involving a Virginia man who could legally purchase a firearm and did so for an uncle from Pennsylvania. Even though the Pennsylvania man who ultimately bought the gun was not legally prohibited from owning a firearm and passed a background check, the Court, in a 5-4 decision, said the transfer violated federal “straw purchase” law.

The ruling has resulted in confusion among federal firearm licensees (FFLs), particularly relating to gift purchases of firearms.

NSSF has asked the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives to provide clarification on the Supreme Court’s decision for its firearms retailer members. As soon as ATF responds, NSSF will provide the information to all FFLs.

Meanwhile, it is our understanding that the Supreme Court ruling does not make it illegal for a consumer to purchase firearms as gifts.  As expressly noted in the instructions on the Form 4473 for Section 11.a. Actual Transferee/Buyer:  For purposes of this form, you are the actual transferee/buyer if you are purchasing the firearm for yourself or otherwise acquiring the firearm for yourself (e.g., redeeming the firearm from pawn/retrieving it from consignment, firearm raffle winner). You are also the actual transferee/buyer if you are legitimately purchasing the firearm as a gift for a third party [emphasis supplied].

 

In this case (Abramski v. United States), the Court ruled in effect that the Virginia man, a former police officer purchasing the firearm at a discounted price,  was acting as agent for the true buyer-his uncle. By declaring he was the “actual buyer” on the Form 4473, the Virginia man violated straw purchase law, because in effect he was acting as an agent for his uncle who had provided the funds for the purchase.

NSSF advises retailers wanting an official clarification on how the decision will affect their business to call their ATF field office and ask for a response in writing.

On the matter of purchasing a firearm as a gift, ATF recommends firearms retailers use a gift certificate. This way the person receiving the gift can redeem the gift certificate with the retailer and get exactly what he or she wants, and there is no question about who is the “actual buyer of the firearm” and whether the person can lawfully possess a firearm.

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