The 9mm muzzle always chafes my lower pelvis if I walk far or drive with my pistol in my pants. I’ve tried a dozen different holsters and they always make a bulge under my shirt, so I bought a metal piece that clips my Glock to my waistband. Clunky for sure, but the heft is comforting when I’m in strange territory.
I’m one of thousands of Stanislaus County residents who jumped at Sheriff Adam Christianson’s policy shift in 2010 offering “people of good moral character who present logical reasons” to get permits to carry concealed weapons.
I’ve schlepped my handgun thousands of miles around California since then and all I’ve gotten out of it is a belly rash and a wallet a few hundred dollars lighter for training and certification fees. I began to wonder, is anyone getting anything out of the meteoric rise of our county’s “strapped” citizens besides the gun shops?
Figures provided by the Sheriff’s Office paint a picture of a populace frantic to pack. In 2011, there were 56 new concealed-carry permits issued and 13 renewals. One year later, that number was 839 new permits with 483 renewals. But 2013 was the topper with 923 new permits issued and 521 reloads.
This produced a massive backlog of applications and much kvetching from the unarmed, as The Modesto Bee reported a year ago. The Sheriff’s Office had to restrict acceptable training courses to a 35 mile-radius around the county to slow the flood of trainers trying to horn in.
What effect did all us moral, logically armed characters have on crime? The tale can be told by comparing crime stats of just two years.
In 2010, there were 11 homicides in areas under the sheriff’s jurisdiction and 11 in 2013. There were 105 robberies in 2010, and 101 in 2013. There were 1,200 assaults in 2010 and almost the exact same number in 2013. The pattern holds with property crimes , too – essentially flat across a four-year span.
These figures, also provided by the Sheriff’s Office, seem to say we’re all paranoid cowboys shooting blanks. But it can say the opposite, too. Those numbers don’t include crimes in cities such as Modesto or Turlock, and the county’s population grew by 7,000 from 2010-2012, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.
Plus, 300 “low risk” inmates were released from Stanislaus County corrections facilities after an equal number were sent in from the state prison system after the realignment law was enacted in 2011. Add the reduction in deputies over that time (there are 36 openings), and you can say you’ve got proof that more citizens carrying concealed weapons reduced crime, or at least it’s a draw.
Problem is, neither the Stanislaus County Sheriff’s Office nor the California Department of Justice keeps stats on incidents involving permit holders involved in a crime or preventing one. As long as pro-carry and anti-gun people can keep the facts fluid to fit their point of view, law enforcement is not likely to push to get a database to answer this critical question.
Why are so many of us eager to lug around a hidden pistol with no clear benefit?
Years ago, I asked an F-15 fighter jockey a similar question: “Why does the military want you combat pilots to carry sidearms?”
His answer was that a firearm makes you feel like you have some control, so you make better decisions in survival situations – even if you never point or fire the thing.
That’s why I’m glad our sheriff allows average citizens concealed-carry permits. Looking back 20 years from now, if all I’ve got to show is a calloused lower paunch, no one will be happier than me.
Taylor, a resident of Oakdale, is a behavior analyst. He was a visiting editor at The Bee in 2012. Send questions or comments to email@example.com.