Lately, one of the more amusing places people try to compare the United States with is Japan. You see, Japan tightly controls firearms and, they argue, has a very low murder rate as a result of that. This is usually taken as evidence that we should follow Japan’s lead on guns.
On the contrary. Anyone who has watched a Japanese game show and thinks we should follow their lead on anything needs to have their head examined, but that’s just me.
However, it also seems that when you look at the numbers, the average concealed carry permit holder in the U.S. is just as safe as the average gun owner in Japan.
Michigan Concealed Pistol License holders have an extremely low murder rate. Japan has a very low murder rate. Japan is also a very law-abiding culture.
The United States, as a whole, has a much higher murder rate than Japan. Within the United States, there is a law abiding culture that has a murder rate as low as Japan’s. That culture consists of gun owners who carry guns legally.
The FBI generally includes legally defined murder, which may be in the first or second degree, and non-negligent manslaughter, in the definition of murder for their statistics. A more precise definition might be “criminal homicide”.
In Michigan, the State Police are tasked with compiling crimes committed by people who have the Michigan Concealed Pistol License (CPL). The State Police Reports are available from 2003 to early 2017. The state police report list convictions of people for murder, and manslaughter, as well as a multitude of other offenses. From 2003 to 2017, there are 14 years of reports listing criminal convictions.
Criminal homicides are the most reliable crime statistics to track, and the most important for comparisons with other societies. While there are significant differences in definitions, reporting, and recording of crimes from nation to nation, murders, or criminal homicides, are more reliable than other crime statistics.
In the 14 years of Michigan annual police reports, there are 17 criminal homicide convictions recorded by the Michigan State Police (MSP), for people who had CPLs.
The number of active CPLs in Michigan for each year of the 14 annual reports was a little more difficult to find. The annual reports run from October 1 to September 30 of the following year. I found numbers in each annual report period, except for the period of October 1, 2014, to September 30 of 2015. For that period I interpolated from the March 2014 number of 430,000 to the November 2015 number of 488,000, to obtain 459,000. The numbers for the other years used were within the period for each report. Over the fourteen year span, a variation of a few months does not make much difference.
Concealed carry holders have routinely been demonstrated to be among the most law-abiding citizens in the country. That makes a lot of sense when you think about it. After all, if they were inclined to break the law, why would they jump through the hoops necessary to get a permit? Even in a shall issue state like Georgia, it’s still a minor pain in the butt to get a permit.
So why would the criminal class do such a thing, assuming they could even get one?
Of course, that brings up a problem with a claim like this. Permit holders are a self-selecting group of very law-abiding people. It’s probably not right to compare them to an entire population…except when talking about things like national reciprocity.
If you recall, the kvetching over that was how it would allow people to bypass their home state’s laws and get an out-of-state permit from a shall issue state, thus negating all their careful plans to keep citizens disarmed. Yet this shows us exactly why that’s a non-issue.
Criminals won’t get permits because it’s just a pain to get one. Why would they want to waste their time when they’re going to break laws anyway? It doesn’t make any sense. But the average concealed carry holder isn’t like that at all. Statistics back that up.
That means it’s time for national reciprocity to stop languishing in Congress and move on up to President Trump’s desk for signing.