Bill Clinton: "You can't have people walking around with guns"

Clinton begins and ends by referring to guns carried by cops, so you might surmise that he favors disarming the police. But that middle part apparently alludes to guns carried by young black men in cities like Baltimore, which he likens to guns carried by combatants in European civil wars. The implication is pretty clear: “You get enough people with weapons around,” and the result is bound to be ugly: a shockingly high homicide rate and general disorder, if not ethnic cleansing and genocide.

Except we know that’s not true. While the question of whether more guns means less crime remains a subject of lively debate, it is quite clear by now that loosening the rules for carrying guns in public does not inevitably lead to blood in the streets. The guns to which Clinton is referring, of course, are for the most part not carried by law-abiding people with permits to possess concealed weapons in public. Even for people without criminal records, such permits are hard to get in Maryland, where applicants must demonstrate what the state deems a “good and substantial reason,” typically based on an imminent threat to one’s life. But the experience of states with nondiscretionary carry permit policies, including Clinton’s native Arkansas, shows that having “people with weapons around” does not necessarily translate into widespread violence. In any event, it is hard to see what that has to do with the amount of trust that people have in the process for investigating allegations of excessive force by police, which is Clinton’s ostensible topic.