Why do Democrats, self-proclaimed champions of the poor, make it so difficult for poor people to defend themselves? Democrats oppose even free voter IDs as imposing too much of a burden on the poor, but when it comes to guns, they don’t hesitate to impose fees, expensive training requirements and onerous background checks. These are precisely the things that can put guns out of reach for poor people.
Connecticut already charges $140 in initial fees for handgun permits — twice the national average. Now Gov. Dannel P. Malloy wants to raise it to $370, with a $300 renewal fee required every five years.
The proposed initial fee would be roughly 50 percent higher than California’s concealed-carry fee, which is currently the highest among states.
There are very serious consequences to raising these fees. Many law-abiding citizens, particularly minorities in crime-ridden cities, really need guns for self-defense.
Connecticut’s policies have not been working. In 2015, Hartford had a murder rate of 25.7 per 100,000 people. Bridgeport, the largest city, had a rate of 12.8 per 100,000,
We can’t simply blame inadequate policing. The cops can’t be everywhere at once. Indeed, they almost always respond to a scene after the crime has been committed. So the only solution is to let people protect themselves. If a criminal does attack, having a gun provides the safest course of action.
But Connecticut Democrats seem to think that the poor should be satisfied with dialing 911 and hoping for the best.
In 2013, all but two Democrats in the Colorado House of Representatives voted against a Republican amendment to exempt people below the poverty level from the state’s new tax on private transfers of guns. Since Democrats are normally eager to support exemptions for lower-income people, it appears to be a case of not trusting poor people with guns.
Democrats have also been behind efforts to ban the production of inexpensive handguns. These guns tend to be smaller and lighter, making them convenient for concealed carry. Though the preferred weapons of some criminals, they are also favored by many permit holders, especially ones on a tight budget.
There are still further obstacles if you want to get a concealed-carry permit. The result is that only the affluent can defend themselves. Democrats must surely realize this.
Higher fees clearly reduce the number of concealed-handgun permits. Texas has more than twice the population of Pennsylvania, but it has slightly fewer residents with concealed-handgun permits (1.15 million in Texas versus 1.27 million in Pennsylvania). It’s not because Texans don’t like guns — it is simply that they have a more difficult time getting permits. The fee for a five-year permit is $140 in Texas, but only $20 in Pennsylvania.
Gov. Malloy claims that the increased fees will help offset the state’s $3.6 billion deficit over the next two fiscal years. But you can’t have a 164 percent increase in permit fees and assume that there will be no change in the number of people who want permits. Malloy reveals his economic ignorance when he claims that the fee will bring an additional $9 million to the state annually.
I have looked at 25 years of data on permit fees, training requirements and other regulations, and factors such as income. My research examined how these factors affect the number of people with permits. Connecticut’s proposed fee of $370 is so far above existing state fees that there is no way of reliably estimating its impact. But I estimate that just an increase of $100, from $140 to $240, would reduce the number of permits by 60 percent. This would decrease total state and local revenue by $9.8 million, with local governments bearing virtually all the loss.
This isn’t the only cost of increased fees. I believe that disarming law-abiding citizens means higher crime rates and more work for the police.
Democrats want votes from poor minorities, but they aren’t really looking out for them, certainly not when it comes to their right to self-defense. The result of the hefty fees is that only well-off people will be able to defend themselves and their families.
John R. Lott Jr. is the president of the Crime Prevention Research Center and the author of “The War on Guns.”