GOP lawmaker suggests citizens should become vigilantes
A conservative lawmaker in Wisconsin says that, since we don’t have the death penalty in the state, citizens should take it upon themselves to “help clean our society of [the] scumbags” that perpetrate crime.
No, really. And Rep. Bob Gannon (R-Slinger) goes on to say that, since “criminals no longer have any fear of our courts or our prisons,” it’s “time that the citizens of this fine state stand up and fight back.”
These remarks come in response to a shooting at East Towne Mall in Madison last week. Gannon, who supports concealed carry so fervently that he refuses “to spend my money at any business that believes my second amendment rights have to be left in my car,” penned a snarky and spiteful press release (PDF) simply titled, “Hole Shot into Gun Free Zone Theory.”
“A gang banger in the mall with a gun is going to think twice if there could be a law abiding
CCW holder standing behind them fully prepared to shoot center mass,” he writes.
It’s the fantasy of many concealed carry holders that they can defend a large population of shoppers/church-goers/college students/etc. if only they were allowed to carry their guns everywhere. Yet the facts fly in the face of this imagined scenario: active-shooter incidents rarely end with another citizen using their gun to stop a criminal.
In fact, according to FBI statistics that have studied active-shooter situations (PDF), a person without a gun is more likely to stop a shooter than someone with a gun. Thirteen percent of active-shooter situations studied by the FBI ended with someone using means besides a gun to end the situation. Conversely, in only three percent of all active-shooter situations did a “good guy with a gun” actually stop a “bad guy” with a gun.
“But so what?” many will ask. Surely, Gannon is right that having more guns will stop more criminals, resulting in less crimes in the state overall.
However, that’s not what we’re currently seeing. According to FBI crime stats since concealed carry was implemented in the state, violent crime has gone up in Wisconsin by 22 percent.
That’s not to say that concealed carry was responsible for that rise in crime -- but it has failed to make us safer, as proponents like Gov. Scott Walker promised it would in 2011.
It’s not just in Wisconsin. In Missouri, where the state relaxed stringent gun laws starting in 2007, gun homicides increased by 16 percent. And in South Dakota, where the 48-hour gun waiting period was rescinded in 2009, suicides also went up by 16 percent statewide.
Bob Gannon worries that the lack of a death penalty doesn’t deter crime in our state. He’s wrong in this assumption as well: the death penalty doesn’t deter crime any better in states where it’s carried out. Here’s another instance where the facts go against his rhetoric: in every year since at least 1991, states with the death penalty had higher rates of murder than states without it.
Gannon is trying to sound tough and act “Trumpish” with his insistence that criminals can be stopped if citizens simply arm up. But in Wisconsin, we adhere to the principles of the Fifth Amendment to the Constitution just as much as the Second Amendment. And that means that citizens deserve due process of law -- not a system that requires citizen vigilantes to become judge, jury, and executioners, as Gannon is seemingly advocating.