As we noted on Tuesday, the Strib’s coverage of the fact that over 100,000 Minnesotans have carry permits (six weeks later than it was covered in this space) had good news and bad news.
The good news? Larry Oakes, the Strib reporter, did a decent job of finding some sources on the pro-gun side. Like a few Strib reporters before him – Conrad DeFiebre was the first – he seems to have tried to do a fair job.
And maybe it’s that urge – and reportorial “duty” – to be fair that pushed Oakes into his mistake, and the bad news; Oakes took Heather Martens seriously.
That may be a form of “good news” in a sense; fifteen years ago, there were a couple of anti-gun groups, and a slew of Metrocrat DFL legislators who would queue up to bash on the Second Amendment and its supporters. Now, Martens is pretty much the best anyone can manage.
And as this blog has been showing for most of the past decade, if Heather Martens says it, it’s a lie. Or, in this classic example published by a very gullible and uninformed Minnesota Public Radio, fifteen lies in a row with barely a breath.
But here’s where it gets serious: Oakes writes…:
State data shows that since the law took effect, permit holders were convicted of 882 non-traffic crimes, including 66 assaults, two robberies and two killings. Many were committed with guns.
I don’t know the “66 assaults” or “two robberies”; I’m going to dig into those.
I’ll show you why in a moment. Let’s focus on the “two killings”.
I had a hunch where the “two killings” numbers came from. I called Mr. Oakes at the Strib. And he confimed – he’d been pointed to the numbers at the Bureau of Criminal Apprehension by Martens.
The BCA doesn’t go into a lot of detail about what killings are what – but let’s presume that the “two killings” are not the two justifiable homicides in Hennepin County over the past couple of years – the Grumpy’s shooting, where a bouncer shot and killed a patron that was threatening him (and cut him!) with a knife, and the Evanovich shooting last fall, where a good samaritan killed a mugger who’d just pistol-whipped a woman in the parking lot of a Cub foods on East Lake, and then drew on the samaritan (who shot first, taking out Evanovich and ending a bit of a crime wave on East Lake). HenCo attorney Mike Freeman – no fan of civilians with guns – ruled both of those shootings justifiable. So those are of no use to Heather Martens or any anti-gunny.
To the best of anyone’s knowledge, other than these two, there have been two other shootings involving carry permittees, and the BCA records seem to line up with them.
The first “killing”, if my sources are correct (and they pretty much always are) was a 2010 suicide; a man in Duluth who had pled guilty a week earlier to sexual assault.
There are a couple of interesting details about this case, though:
- For starters, his permit should have been yanked when he pled guilty – in court, that moment – if not when he was arrested for felony sexual assault. So if the man – Brock McCarthy was his name – ever had a permit, he shouldn’t have when he killed himself. That’s if the system worked as it is supposed to.
- He shot himself in his home. His permit was irrelevant.
- It was a suicide. Not a murder. While suicide is a tragedy (that, in this case, was connected to another awful crime), it’s different than killing a second or third party who doesn’t want to get killed.
While suicide is a tragedy, one needn’t have a carry permit – or a gun – to do it. People without permits – or guns – do it all the time. The only difference with gun suicides is that it’s rarely about “seeking attention”, like cutting one’s wrists or taking pills. It’s about wanting to check out, now. Tragic? Sure. A rap on carry permits? Nope. Fishy to present as a “killing”, in the sense of a person killing another person?
The second killing was one Michelle Rae Wilson, who killed her boyfriend in 2008 in St. Paul. Wilson was convicted of second-degree murder. I’m familiar with the case; my friend the late Joel Rosenberg covered it extensively. It was a fair cop. It was also in her home – the carry permit was irrelevant.
(On the off-chance that the other homicide was the shooting at Nye’s back in 2005? The permit-holder was using a pre-“Shall-Issue” permit, one of the ones issued with the full police discretion that, Heather Martens would have you believe, made them safer than the ones we’ve had for the past nine years).
Martens’ point was to try to impugn carry permittees – as Oakes’ next quote made clear:
Martens said it debunks the notion that all permit holders are law-abiding.
Let’s shoot that strawman in the face. Nobody said “all” permittees were law-abiding. Merely much more law-abiding than the general public.
As Oakes, to his credit, allows Gun Owners Civil Rights Alliance boss Andrew Rothman to note:
Rothman responded that permit holders commit much less than their share of crime, citing as an example that though one in seven Minnesotans has a DWI on their record, only one in 545 of the state’s permit holders got one after getting a permit.
“No one ever claimed permit holders would be perfect,” Rothman said, “but the numbers show (they) are consistently orders of magnitude more law abiding than the general public.”
Indeed, as we’ve shown in this space, even in a bad year, carry permittees are a couple of orders of magnitude safer than the general public.
Let’s look at Minnesota statistics. Leaving out the two justifiable homicides and the suicide, there has been one unjustified murder carried out by someone who had a carry permit in 10 years. There are over 100,000 carry permittees. Divided over ten years, that yields a murder rate of .1 per 100,000. The murder rate in Minnesota averages around 2/100,000. Carry permittees are 20 times safer than the general public. So far.
And in terms of danger to the public? From 2003-2010, there were 1107 murders in Minnesota (give or take a few – I did the math in my head). That’s an annual murder rate of about 2 per 100,000. Against that, we have one non-justifiable homicide carried out by a permit-holder. That boils down to an annual rate of .002/100,000, meaning a typical citizen is just shy of three orders of magnitude less likely to be murdered (unjustifiably, anyway) by a carry permittee than by a non-permittee.
We’ll look into the “robberies” and “assaults” later.
Whatever the overall affect on society, Easton, the Twin Cities gun instructor, said he thinks that carrying has made him a safer member of it by giving him what he perceives to be “a sense of grace.”
“When you’re carrying a gun, you can’t afford to get accused of causing trouble, so you let things roll off your back,” he said. “You wave with all five fingers.”
Very, very true.
So there are two lessons from Larry Oakes’ story:
- The Strib is making an effort to cover the issue relatively fairly.
- On the other hand, if Heather Martens opens her mouth, she’s lying.
I think that sums it up well.