Last Friday, thirteen people were randomly shot in the Ft. Lauderdale- Hollywood International Airport. By the end of the day, five innocent people had died. All but one was on their way to a Florida vacation.
For many, the lesson from America's latest high profile and daily mass shooting in Ft. Lauderdale will be to skip the Florida vacation. Take a trip to Disneyland instead of Disneyworld. Cruise from Cancun not Miami. Based on Florida's lax gun laws and resulting high firearm related injury and death rate, it was only a matter of time before people would realize that Florida, long considered a premier tourist destination, would become a dangerous place to live and visit with regard to increasing gun violence. Florida's gun death rate is now 12.11 per 100,000 population which is even higher than the 10 per 100,000 national average.
However, last week there was also another mass attack on the American people. This attack received little media attention although it will result in many more gun deaths than the Ft. Lauderdale Shooting.
The second attack last week came from Richard Hudson, congressman from North Carolina. He filed legislation that would allow anyone with the right to carry a concealed weapon in their home state to carry a concealed weapon in any other state. Without an understanding of the current right to concealed carry laws, this bill can seem like commonsense. The gun lobby knows this and is messaging around the bill as if the right to carry a concealed loaded weapon is the same as drivers' licenses valid in all 50 states. However, the reality is far different.
There is no uniformity in the standards for allowing citizens to carry concealed weapons in public. Massachusetts, for example has some of the highest standards and requires safety training, live weapon practice and a comprehensive background check and permitting process that gives local police chiefs discretion to deny a permit if the police have major safety concerns, such as having been called to a home several times for domestic violence, even if no charges were filed. California, Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Maryland, New Jersey, New York and Rhode Island have similar permitting standards. Like Massachusetts, all of these states with higher standards have lower gun fatality rates than states like Florida with lower concealed carry standards. Not surprisingly, urban industrial Massachusetts has a 3 per 100,000 population firearm fatality rate compared to Florida with 12 per 100,000 population.
On the other end of the spectrum, eight states do not require any permit to carry a loaded concealed handgun in public. This means that individuals in those states that have a long history of domestic violence altercations or misdemeanor assaults can pick up a gun without any training and carry it loaded and concealed in public.
Massachusetts has a history of protecting the general population by keeping guns out of the wrong hands and by reducing the number of people allowed to carry loaded concealed weapons in public. These protections have largely worked. Massachusetts consistently falls within the three states with the lowest gun deaths per capita each year. Other states that consistently have the lowest gun deaths include: Hawaii, Rhode Island, New York, Connecticut and New Jersey, California. If that list looks familiar there is a reason, strong gun laws are correlated with lower gun deaths.
Rather than use a bill to bring each state up to the highest standards as exemplified by Massachusetts and similar states, Representative Hudson's bill dismantles each state's concealed weapons law to bring them down to the lowest possible standards.
If Representative Hudson's bill passes, we'll no longer have to travel to Florida to increase the likelihood that we will be victims of gun violence due to weak gun laws. We must prevent this outcome. In an average year, there are over thirty thousand gun deaths and one hundred thousand gun related injuries nationally. That means that in an average American day there is a mass shooting of four or more people, 90 Americans will die and 200 will be injured with firearms. Allowing more loaded hidden weapons without common sense limitations will surely increase the already epidemic proportions of gun deaths and injuries in the United States.
The organization I founded as a gun owner, Stop Handgun Violence, will be fighting Representative Hudson's bill at every turn. But we need your help. Sign up through our website www.stophandgunviolence.org to volunteer or to donate to this life saving effort. The life you save may be yours or your loved ones.