Evaluating Michigan's Right-to-carry Law After 6 years
Michigan sees fewer gun deaths — with more permits
January 6, 2008
By DAWSON BELL
FREE PRESS STAFF WRITER
Six years after new rules made it much easier to get a license to carry concealed weapons, the number of Michiganders legally packing heat has increased more than six-fold.
But dire predictions about increased violence and bloodshed have largely gone unfulfilled, according to law enforcement officials and, to the extent they can be measured, crime statistics.
The incidence of violent crime in Michigan in the six years since the law went into effect has been, on average, below the rate of the previous six years. The overall incidence of death from firearms, including suicide and accidents, also has declined.
More than 155,000 Michiganders -- about one in every 65 -- are now authorized to carry loaded guns as they go about their everyday affairs, according to Michigan State Police records.
About 25,000 people had CCW permits in Michigan before the law changed in 2001.
"I think the general consensus out there from law enforcement is that things were not as bad as we expected," said Woodhaven Police Chief Michael Martin, cochair of the legislative committee for the Michigan Association of Chiefs of Police. "There are problems with gun violence. But ... I think we can breathe a sigh of relief that what we anticipated didn't happen."
John Lott, a senior research scientist at the University of Maryland who has done extensive research on the role of firearms in American society, said the results in Michigan since the law changed don't surprise him.
Academic studies of concealed weapons laws that generally allow citizens to obtain permits have shown different results, Lott said. About two-thirds of the studies suggest the laws reduce crime; the rest show no net effect, he said.
But no peer-reviewed study has ever shown that crime increases when jurisdictions enact changes like those put in place by the Legislature and then-Gov. John Engler in 2000, Lott said.
In Michigan and elsewhere (liberal permitting is the rule in about 40 states), those who seek CCW permits, get training and pay licensing fees tend to be "the kind of people who don't break laws," Lott said.
Nationally, the rate of CCW permits being revoked is very low, he said. State Police reports in Michigan indicate that 2,178 permits have been revoked or suspended since 2001, slightly more than 1% of those issued.
Another State Police report found that 175 Michigan permit holders were convicted of a crime, most of them nonviolent, requiring revocation or suspension of their permits between July 1, 2005, and June 30, 2006.
But even if more armed citizens have not wreaked havoc, some critics of Michigan's law chafe at how it was passed: against stiff opposition in a lame duck legislative session and attached to an appropriation that nullified efforts at repeal by referendum. . . .
I liked the title of the piece.