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WRAL Goes "True but Inconvenient" on Violent Crime Stats
If "fact-checking" were really about checking facts, few such articles would be more than a paragraph long. Most would probably consist of two sentences: the original claim in question and another sentence telling us whether it's true or not. But "fact-checking" isn't really about facts as WRAL demonstrates in an article entitled, "Fact Check: Do concealed weapons lower crime rates?"
The statement in question is simple:
Since 1995 when Conceal Carry passed in this state, violent crime has gone down almost 30 percent," [Rep. Mark] Hilton [(R-Catawba)] said.
The answer is equally simple:
According to statistics kept by the N.C. Attorney General's Office the raw number of violent crimes – murders, rapes, robberies and aggravated assaults – has dropped. In 1995, there were 45,016 such crimes throughout the state. In 2010, the last year for which state level data is available, there were 34,033 such crimes.
When those numbers are converted into rates that take into account population growth, the violent crime rate dropped from 649 per 100,000 people in 1995 to 374.4 per 100,000 people in 2010. That's a drop of 24.4 percent in terms of the raw number of crimes or a drop of 42.3 percent drop in the violent crime rate.
Those two quotes ought to be the extent of WRAL's fact-checking, along with a big fat "TRUE" rating. But don't count on the organization that wants you to "Find concealed weapon carry permit holders in your area" to give you a straight answer. Hilton is a Republican, and he's an advocate of self-defense; he can't be allowed a "TRUE" rating. It's time to call in the straw men and red herrings.
WRAL argues the drop in crime has nothing to do with North Carolina's "right to carry" legislation. They quickly punt to Politifact and unnamed academics who think John Lott's printing of statistics is "controversial" and thus must be "deemed flawed." What does this have to do with Hilton's claim? Absolutely nothing. But when the evidence doesn't support your side, obfuscate and distract.
If you want to restrict a right, the burden of proof is on your side to prove a definitive, substantial benefit. Hilton is absolutely right to point out the predictions of "blood in the streets" never came to pass. Politifact's "experts" can dance around the question, but based on their own article the "experts" are debating between two propositions: no impact or crime reduction. In other words, no one is actually arguing "right to carry" increases crime.
If concealed carry presents no harm, there is no rational argument for gun-free zones. We don't even need to discuss the Constitutional questions. Although, North Carolina's constitution is quite clear on the subject. It reads, in part, "the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed."