It is time Wisconsin adopt some form of a right-to-carry law.

Wisconsin is one of only two states left in the Union that does not grant its citizens the right to carry a concealed weapon — Illinois is the other. Most of the other 48 states enacted this form of legislation within the last decade. Wisconsin needs to get with the times.

While it may seem unnerving to some to suggest putting more guns on the streets, statistics gathered from other states show more guns equal less crime. In fact, according to the National Rifle Association, 2005 U.S. Justice Department data shows states with right-to-carry laws, on average, have 22 percent lower total violent crime rates and a 30 percent lower murder rate.

The fact is, criminals prefer unarmed victims. Criminals will have weapons regardless of any law meant to keep them out of their hands. Whether they attain them via the black market or through other illegal means, criminals — who intrinsically have no respect for law in the first place — will find a way to arm themselves if they really want to. If citizens are disarmed by law, what is left? By definition, all law-abiding citizens would then be disarmed, leaving only the criminals with weapons.

Why punish law-abiding citizens by depriving them of the right to carry while thugs roam the streets fully armed and fully conscious that no one has the power to defend himself? Failure to enact a right-to-carry law in Wisconsin only harms good, honest Wisconsinites. After all, as Plato said, “Good people do not need laws to tell them to act responsibly, while bad people will find a way around the laws.”

The Department of Justice reports these states also have a 46 percent lower robbery rate and a 12 percent lower aggravated assault rate. Just the very threat of armed citizens deters criminals.

It has been a year now since the tragedy at Virginia Tech, yet we have not learned our lesson. The tragedy there was a microcosm of the scenario on streets where citizens do not have the right to carry. Virginia Tech had been declared a “gun-free zone,” and thus the only one with a weapon was the man planning on using it to kill his unarmed classmates. Had the people around the killer been armed, 32 people may not have been slain.

Florida was the first to enact right-to-carry legislation in 1987. According to the NRA, since then it has issued more than 1.2 million carry-and-conceal permits to its citizens. Only 157 have been revoked because of a gun-related crime, and in the first five years after Florida enacted the law, its murder rate dropped by 23 percent.

Why? Because good, honest people were sick of being easy prey for criminals, and they finally stood up for themselves.

A study conducted by the Department of Justice found “34 percent of felons had been ‘scared off, shot at, wounded or captured by an armed victim.”

Obviously there must be common sense that goes along with this law. It seems only logical that people should have to go through a screening process to attain a permit to carry a concealed weapon — though Vermont and Alaska have unrestricted right-to-carry laws.

Wisconsin has tried to pass the right-to-carry law in recent years, and it has passed both the state Senate and Assembly. Governor Doyle, however, vetoed the bill and the decision fell just two votes short of overriding the governor’s veto in 2006.

The statistics are hard to argue with. The passage of this law has coincided heavily with reduced crime rates all across the country, and it is time that Wisconsin wises up and gets on board by enacting a right-to-carry law.

Joe Trovato ([email protected]) is a sophomore majoring in journalism.