With open carry legislation still working its way through the legislative process, here’s another brief look at data on gun attitudes from the University of Texas/Texas Tribune Poll, and a consideration of the logic applied to data (or the lack thereof) on gun ownership in the current debate.
- A minority of Texans want to make gun laws less strict than they are now, based on the latest UT/Texas Tribune Poll. This includes a minority of the following groups: Republicans (34%), Democrats (less surprising, of course) (6%), women (14%), men (31%), whites (26%), Blacks (13%), Hispanics (16%), urban, suburban, and even rural respondents.
|Left as they are now||19%||32%||52%|
|Don't know/No opinion||6%||14%||2%|
|Left as they are now||33%||39%|
|Don't know/No opinion||3%||7%|
|Left as they are now||41%||26%||30%|
|Don't know/No opinion||4%||11%||6%|
|Left as they are now||27%||36%||50%|
|Don't know/No opinion||6%||5%||6%|
- The only group displaying majority support for making guns laws less strict are Tea Party identifiers (54%). A plurality of those who identify as “Extremely conservative” also support reducing restrictions, but it’s a statistical tie between those who want them less strict and those who want them left as they are now.
|Left as they are now||20%||52%||39%|
|Don't know/No opinion||6%||3%||1%|
|category||Leaning conservative||Somewhat conservative||Extremely conservative|
|Left as they are now||44%||56%||40%|
|Don't know/No opinion||4%||1%||3%|
- Among Texans, the status quo is at least as prevalent an alternative to relaxing guns laws as is making them more strict. Given the partisan distribution in Texas, there is little chance of a wave of new gun control laws sweeping through the state should open carry advocates fail to carry the day. But more broadly, 52% of Republicans favor the status quo. Add to that the 34% who want gun laws less strict, and the chances of the Republican majority in the state doing an about face on the status quo seems extremely unlikely in political terms. 45% of Texans support concealed carry, and only 23% agree that Texans should never be able carry a handgun in a public place; even Texas Democrats are evenly split between banning handguns and approving of concealed carry.
|Texans should never be allowed to carry a handgun in a public place.||23%|
|Texans should be allowed to carry a concealed handgun in a public place, as long as they have a license.||45%|
|Texans should also be allowed to openly carry a handgun in a public place, as long as they have a license to do so.||22%|
|Texans should always be allowed to carry a handgun in a public place, and should not be required to have a license to do so.||10%|
|Texans should never be allowed to carry a handgun in a public place.||43%||14%||7%|
|Texans should be allowed to carry a concealed handgun in a public place, as long as they have a license.||43%||34%||50%|
|Texans should also be allowed to openly carry a handgun in a public place, as long as they have a license to do so.||11%||39%||29%|
|Texans should always be allowed to carry a handgun in a public place, and should not be required to have a license to do so.||3%||14%||14%|
- The reason that Department of Public Safety data show that people with concealed handgun licenses commit crimes at extremely low rates is likely due to the fact that people with criminal records are disqualified from being issued a CHL, and people with CHL’s who commit felonies have them revoked. So the occasional argument that the lack of crimes committed by CHL holders illustrates how law-abiding holders are really doesn’t stand up to simple scrutiny – at least not based on this evidence. CHL holders aren’t inherently law-abiding; rather, people who have demonstrated that they are not law abiding are screened out of the pool of potential CHL holders. Additionally, the low crime rates among CHL holders are influenced in no small measure by the current rules for obtaining a CHL license, and presumably, the climate of gun ownership that those rules foster. Making inferences about the future behavior of present and future license holders under different rules and conditions is a speculative exercise that is not pre-determined based on past behavior (or past data).
- Arguments purporting a relationship between increased gun ownership and decreased gun violence are, at best, lacking the data required to support them, or at worst, not supported by current research. First, we don’t really have reliable data on gun ownership in the United States, so making any claims about a relationships between increased gun ownership and decreased gun violence usually compares that violence in states or cities with strict gun laws to states/cities having less strict gun laws, noting that violence is higher in the former than the latter. We might call this relationship ‘endogenous’, meaning that the laws themselves might be a reflection of the underlying condition, i.e. gun violence, and not the other way around (i.e, violence is a reflection of the laws). And in fact, one of the most comprehensive studies looking at gun ownership and gun violence “found that states with higher rates of gun ownership had disproportionately large numbers of deaths from firearm-related homicides.” Will making a change from the concealed carry of handguns to the open-carry of handguns change gun ownership rates in Texas? See 4 above.