A new study, Crime, Deterrence, and Right-to-Carry Concealed Handguns, by John Lott, Jr., School of Law, University of Chicago, and David Mustard, Department of Economics, University of Chicago, has determined that "allowing citizens to carry concealed weapons deters violent crimes and it appears to produce no increase in accidental deaths."
Their study, using data from 1977 to 1992, concluded that, had the states which outlaw "concealed carry" allowed their citizens to carry concealed weapons, over 1,500 murders, 4,000 rapes, and 60,000 aggravated assaults could have been prevented yearly since 1992.
At present, 31 states have passed legislation which allow "qualified" citizens to carry concealed weapons. Studies have indicated that American citizens use these weapons in self-defense up to two and a half million times a year; with up to 400,000 of these citizens indicating that having the means to defend themselves had saved a life.
As for armed Americans "going crazy" and shooting everyone in sight, the study cites Florida statistics which show only 18 crimes involving firearms by license holders, out of 221,443 licenses issued between October 1987 and April 1994. Dade County had only four crimes involving legal firearms between September 1987 and August 1992, with no injuries involved.
The study repeats the findings of surveys, in which convicted felons indicate that they have more fear of meeting an armed citizen during the commission of their crimes, than they have of running into the police. Many avoid late-night burglaries because of the danger of getting shot by a legally-armed citizen.
The study also seems to point to the fact that legally armed citizens are more familiar with guns, and have fewer accidents. Nationally, counties with over 100,000 population had 156 accidental handgun deaths, but only 27 of those 156 occurred in the 31 states with "shall issue" laws. The study states that "implementing a concealed handgun law in those states which currently do not have it would produce less than one more death (.645 deaths)."
The study concludes: "Allowing citizens without criminal records or histories of significant mental illness to carry concealed handguns deters violent crimes and appears to produce an extremely small and statistically insignificant change in accidental deaths."
The study can be found on the Internet at The University of Chicago