The idea that more guns make us safer is flawed -- and Wisconsin is a case study in it
The justifications back then for passing the bill were simple: if the criminals in our state didn’t know whether you had a gun or not, they’d be more hesitant to approach you with a weapon themselves.
“Criminals in Wisconsin are going to have to start asking themselves if their potential crimes are worth the risk encountering someone ready to fully defend themselves,” Rep. Jeff Mursau (R-Crivitz) said in 2011.
Gov. Scott Walker similarly promised that our state would be safer with concealed carry when he signed the bill passed by the legislature. “By signing concealed carry into law today we are making Wisconsin safer for all responsible, law abiding citizens,” he said then.
And the way Brad Schimel gushes about the law today, you’d think that Wisconsin vigilantism is a successful part of our law enforcement system. “Hundreds of thousands of Wisconsinites hold a concealed carry license, making our state a safer place to live, work, and raise a family,” he said recently.
So obviously our state is much safer today than it was back then. Right?
Nope. We’ve actually gone the wrong way -- murder and violent crime rates have gone up since 2011, not down. Wisconsin has become less safe since that time.
Based off of 2015 crime and population growth estimates, Wisconsin’s violent crime rate has gone up by more than 22 percent since concealed carry was passed and implemented (all crime stats are derived from the FBI and state DOJ sites). Wisconsin has seen a 71 percent rate increase in murders since then as well.
And it’s not just in Milwaukee, as some are too quick to suggest. The argument that all the crime in Wisconsin can be attributed to our largest urban center is an appealing one to make for Republicans. But while a lot of crime does occur there, the rise in crime is pretty consistent across the state: outside of Milwaukee, our state’s murder rate is up 62 percent since 2011 when compared to the most recent estimates from 2015.
These rates don’t by any means indicate that concealed carry is responsible for the rise in crime. But they do bring to light one core problem with Schimel’s recent statements: concealed carry cannot be depended on as a way to deter criminals, and we cannot assume that we are safer for having it in place than we were before. While the idea of criminal deterrence may seem appealing to argue, it’s clear that the evidence suggests otherwise.
More guns don’t make us safer. And there’s ample evidence available to suggest more guns makes people less rationale, too. The Mutual Assured Destruction theory of self-defense that too many Republican state lawmakers are endorsing is a dangerous path to take us on -- and one that undoubtedly won’t result in a safer Wisconsin.