People who want to carry a firearm will do what they can to carry one. If possible, they’ll do it legally as that’s generally the preference for most people. That means even if you throw up more restrictions and regulations, they’ll continue to jump through the hoops in order to get permission to carry legally.
That’s exactly what’s happening in Massachusetts as we speak.
More than 100,000 new gun licenses were issued to Massachusetts residents over the past five years, even as the state tightened gun control laws.
Statewide, there were 397,548 active Class A firearms licenses — which allow the holder to own rifles, shotguns or handguns — as of Jan. 22, according to data obtained from the state Department of Criminal Justice Information Services.
That’s an increase of 135,432, or 51 percent, from five years ago.
Exactly what is driving more Massachusetts residents to arm themselves isn’t clear.
Gun enthusiasts attribute the rise to fears that officials might impose further restrictions on gun ownership in the wake of high-profile mass shootings.
“There’s always a fear of government overregulation,” said Jim Wallace, executive director of the Gun Owners’ Action League of Massachusetts, the state affiliate of the National Rifle Association. “The problem is that more laws don’t necessarily mean good laws.”
Wallace said the number of gun permits is down from a high of more than 1.5 million in the mid-1990s. He said the number of permits plummeted when the state enacted a sweeping package of gun control measures in 1998 that included a ban on assault weapons.
I don’t think it’s quite as simple as people fearing further restrictions on gun ownership. After all, having a permit won’t negate laws regulating what kind of firearm you can own. I don’t recall any state saying, for example, that you can’t have an AR-15 or a magazine capable of holding more than 10 rounds unless you had a valid concealed carry permit. Do you?
No, I think this is motivated by something far more primal. It’s motivated by fear.
Our news media constantly presents violence as some major problem, presenting it as if it’s worse than it has been in the past, even though violent crime rates have been trending down for decades. Then people see groups like Antifa busting windows, setting fires, and beating innocent people who only might have the wrong political opinions. It’s not hard to believe it’s simply not safe these days.
When people don’t feel safe, they decide to acquire the means to feel safe. For most, that involves a firearm. It also means getting the permits that will let them carry it legally. It’s just that simple.
To be sure, gun sales have been motivated by people being afraid those guns will soon be illegal, but permits don’t enjoy that luxury. They offer no protection and, as we see in New York with the SAFE Act requiring recertification of even lifetime permits for handguns, states have no qualms about revoking permits just because they can.
But if people are freaked out because of the news, well…that’s a whole different ballgame.
Of course, you don’t think the media will sit there and think, “Oops. Our bad,” now do you?