Legal Issues

Coincidence? Carry Permits Up, Violent Crime Down

Chart of reduced crime rates as concealed carry permits increase

A report released July 9 by the Crime Prevention Research Center shows that as the number of concealed-carry permits issued nationally has increased, murder and other violent crimes decreased.

Chart of reduced crime rates as concealed carry permits increase
The steady decrease of crime seems to correspond to the rapid increase in concealed-carry permits. Some critics say changes in policing tactics can account for the drop in crime. Graphic courtesy of Crime Prevention Research Center.

According to the report Concealed Carry Permit Holders Across the United States, there are 11,113,013 people in the U.S. who currently hold a valid concealed-carry permit, or about 4.8 percent of the total population.

The study reported statistics from 2007 through preliminary estimates for 2013 that show a 22-percent decrease in murders, as well as a 22-percent drop in overall violent crime nationally.

The report cautioned that the number of concealed-carry permit holders is likely much higher than 11.1 million because numbers are not available for all states that issue permits, such as New York. Additionally, some states and the majority of Montana do not require that residents have a concealed handgun permit to carry within the state, so the number of residents who carry a concealed weapon is not recorded.

Interestingly, the report documents that concealed carry has grown overall due to both more states allowing it and more and more people in each state getting permits. In 2007, the number of concealed-carry permit holders was just above 4.5 million, and according to Government Accountability Office numbers, in 2011 the number was almost 8 million.

According to the report, Florida residents hold the most concealed-carry permits at 1,278,246 (as of 12/13), followed by Pennsylvania (872,277 as of 12/12) and Texas with 708,048 (as of 12/13). Georgia (600,000) and North Carolina (570,464) make up the rest of the top-five states.

On a per-capita basis, South Dakota claims first place with 12.03 percent of the state’s population holding concealed carry permits. Indiana (10.79 percent), Alabama (10.21 percent), Utah (9.75 percent), and Tennessee (9.35 percent) round out the top-five states.

Solid red background with the a title in white which reads "Concealed Carry Permit Holders Across the United States
John R. Lott is president of the Crime Prevention Research Center and author of the concealed-carry study.

The report said a handful of states do not require permits to carry within the state. They are Alaska, Arizona, Vermont, and Wyoming. Montana does not require a carry permit in 99.4 percent of the state, according to an entry in the report’s footnotes.

John R. Lott, president of the Crime Prevention Research Center and author of More Guns, Less Crime, said, “When you allow people to carry concealed handguns, you see changes in the behavior of criminals. Some criminals stop committing crimes, others move on to crimes in which they don’t come into contact with victims and others actually move to areas where they have less fear of being confronted by armed victims.”

Do you agree with John Lott that the availability of concealed-carry permits can change criminal behavior? Let us hear from you in the comment section.

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Comments (15)

  1. @ Willy is not interested in an intelligent discussion. This article is a short piece that just gives a 1000 foot view and just discusses some of the relevant finding. A shot article on Einstein’s theory of relativity would not want include a complete mathematical proof of it. Willy should do a few Google searches and seek out more info as I plan on doing. I think that a 10 year old could understand that criminals would be more afraid of attacking people if they thought they might get shot. Again liberals hate facts and logic. Please answer these simple questions: Would a criminal rather his victim armed or disarmed? Don’t you think that a criminal thinks about how dangerous committing a crime is. Do you think that a gun store would be just as likely to be attacked as one with a big sign saying gun free zone? Let me pull out my crystal ball and make a prediction: Willy will not directly answer my questions…

  2. You have an interesting loyalty to this report and the group behind it…. seemingly something beyond a simple discussion of the presentation of the data.

    I didn’t think you’d want to discuss extending the range of the data into earlier years. I’m not sure the source of the murder rate data is even cited in this report, so that might be why you’re avoiding this simple point

    1. @ Willy: Given your continued inability to specifically counter-address any of your previous errors as I’ve cited, one must logically conclude that you have conceded to their legitimacy.

      Regardless, evasionary articulation has never been an honorable achievement, and never will be. Had you at least admitted to some of your failures, you would have been left with some amount of integrity.

      As well, your established pattern of nonsensical conjecture towards anything written is duly noted; however, you are simply going to have to accept that some things are just written as they were intended. There is no need for your fantastical supposition into my words, as I’ve been as plain as anyone could be on this matter.

      I have no more “loyalty” towards this article than any other. I do however despise abhorrent and unnecessary behaviors in society, and will assert my right to speak up as I see it.

      Simply put, I’ve already schooled you on a more appropriate method for noting your differences without being ill-mannered and antagonistic. You may either choose to accept my enlightenment in order to better yourself, or remain ignorant and move along.

      It is obvious the path you have chosen for yourself, so please just move along.

    2. Nice try with the pivot. You’ve officially reduced yourself to attacking my character, despite the fact that I have yet to say anything at all about you personally…. only the report. Your verbose and disjointed attack on me might distract you and a few readers from my easily addressed concerns with the report, but it’s clear you have nothing to rebuke my statements/questions about said report.

      You continue your extremely defensive front and you aren’t coming close to addressing my real concerns with the report. As we stand now, according to you, I have two choices: Your way or the highway…. of ignorance.

      You’ve become the Fox News/MSNBC talking head that just yells louder about anything other than the original topic of discussion.

      At this point your desperation is just flat out embarrassing.

  3. @ Willy: I don’t think I’ll ever understand people that pick apart statistical reports in the manner you have done. To characterize this product as misleading simply because you disagree with the selected parameters does not make it so.

    I don’t believe in history there exists that perfect statistical report. There will always be human decisions made when determining the bounding parameters that are set, as well as imperfect datasets from which final products are derived. As long as these limitations are noted, ( which they were), then nothing misleading or deceptive has occurred.

    So while your sense of personal preferences may have been offended, who are you to decide what they should or should not have included in this report. It’s their report not yours. If you wish to refute the data, then by all means hire a staff and go conduct your own statistical analysis.

    In the meantime, the report is what it is, and the organization was quite forthright about its contents.

    1. Thank you for your reply. I was hoping that one of the CPRC authors or advisory board members would reply and give me an economics perspective on these data, as they might be able address my concerns with the method and statistics. Personally, I like to “pick apart” these reports because I enjoy pursuit of sound reporting.

      You are correct to assume that there are no perfect statistics in research. It is my opinion, however, that simply mentioning limitations does not exclude one from publishing misleading conclusions. Considering their economics accolades, I’d be willing to bet that the members of the CPRC advisory board wouldn’t stand for this poor representation of the data, nor would they jeopardize their integrity and the integrity of the CPRC by standing firmly behind such a report.

      If concealed carry really started gaining momentum in the late 80s, which it appears to have done, why not start there? You would have much more statistical power including these data. You would also have a much more thorough report to offer…. something that actually lends real support to the claim. Why not show the same graph, but extended throughout CC history? It would literally take no more than 30 minutes to add these data and recalculate, even for a novice economist.

      I don’t wish to refute the data, only to clarify what is being presented and pursue a higher understanding of how CC affects violent crime. I understand that the report is not mine, but should that exclude me from offering up what I see as glaring faults? Should I just keep quiet and take everything I read in the media as fact? What about the “scientific” reports presenting statistics, and the conclusions drawn from such as fact?

      I find it my civic duty to promote a better understanding of these issues and I always welcome a constructive conversation/debate on the science behind them. I’m just not willing to take everything I read as fact without at least a little scrutiny. Just because “it’s their report not mine” doesn’t mean citizens shouldn’t think critically about what they read.

    2. @ Willy: Ah but you see, your response does not address my original and specific complaint towards your mannerisms in which you clearly charge this work as an intent to deceive.

      In part, I am referring to one of your original challenges in which you asserted that the, “authors of this report have clearly cherry picked the data to make their own inferences.” That is a bold and libelous accusation, and a considerable departure from the lighthearted – “constructive conversation [or] debate”, which you now proclaim as your originally intended goal.

      Politely adding comment that you desire to see a report that included additional data or a varied structure is one thing, but to challenge ones integrity because of your personal whimsical belief that data was intentionally left out is deplorable behavior; ergo – poor mannerisms, which is what I was calling you out on to begin with.

      Simply put, without having any evidence to base your claims, you have made a slanderous statement constructed solely from your own personal subjectivity and assumptions rather than anything based upon a “science”.

      In your response to me you also wrote: “I’d be willing to bet that the members of the CPRC advisory board wouldn’t stand for this poor representation of the data, nor would they jeopardize their integrity and the integrity of the CPRC by standing firmly behind such a report.”

      Am I to understand that you are under the impression this article has been written out of step with the Crime Prevention Research Center’s intended context? It appears as if you are unaware that it was the Crime Prevention Research Center themselves that prepared this report. The CTD author has merely published an article to reflect their findings from the original product, which was in-fact produced by the CPRC without deviations.

      So how is it you believe the same group that produced the report would not stand behind their own work? That question was rhetorical so no actual response is necessary. I cannot continue dialogue with someone that is pretentious without merit all while obliviously lacking actual facts.

    3. You have an interesting loyalty to this report and the group behind it…. seemingly something beyond a simple discussion of the presentation of the data.

      I didn’t think you’d want to discuss extending the range of the data into earlier years. I’m not sure the source of the murder rate data is even cited in this report, so that might be why you’re avoiding this simple point

  4. This “science” is misleading at best. The authors of this report have clearly cherry picked the data to make their own inferences about the relationship between concealed carry and US firearm homicide rate. It’s even stated in the report that the regression is “noisy” and has “a great deal of measurement error” and should “only be taken as suggestive”. It should also be noted that a simple regression (t-statistic) is a very poor predictor in this case. Furthermore, a better representation of the trend might become apparent if we extended this graph to include a range of 1980-present.

    I’m all for concealed carry and crime prevention, but pushing misleading “research” isn’t the way. If you want to convince folks that the way to prevent crime is to arm the citizens, give them some sound statistics that can’t be easily dismissed as biased.

  5. Several years ago, a very tall man walked up to me & said”If you don’t give your watch,I’ll kill you”. When I slapped my side & he heard the holster, he said” You’re carrying a gun aren’t you ” & ran away. It’s like my Amex card. I don’t leave home, without It.

  6. I remember back in the mid 80’s Florida repealed all the gun laws so they could rewrite them. For two weeks there were in effect “No Gun Laws”. Every one was packing a side arm, The crime rate, across the board, dropped to “Zero”!!
    I’m not saying we should revert back to the wild west but it is obvious liberal gun – grabbers don’t get it.

  7. Deterrence is the key word here; it is an applied science. The concept being, it far less dangerous and costly to take measures that will prevent a criminal event from ever occurring, rather than to be forced into taking action after a criminal event has already occurred.

    So the answer to this forum question is a resounding YES! Of course the availability of concealed carry permits is a deterrent to would-be predatory criminals.

    It is no different than the statistics which supports that a criminal will bypass a well secured home with bars and proper alarm signage. And even though a concealed carrier doesn’t wear a decal on their sleeve to warn a criminal, those states that have decals (e.g., laws) that scream their citizens are unarmed is an advertisement for disaster. And the statistics have solidly supported this for years.

    This is the data the anti-gun groups completely ignore. They are afraid of facts, so we need to do a better job of bringing such facts into the anti-gun arguments and making sure it stays in the arguments.

  8. In an article over 30 years ago prison inmates were asked their thoughts about firearms in households. Their response was that they would likely pass up homes with firearms for their own safety. It is pretty obvious that more concealed carriers will bring about less violence.

  9. It’s an obvious fact…and it does not require a degree to figure it out, criminals do not act when they know their target is potentially armed. Nor will they risk an area that is heavily armed, that is why “safe zones” like Chicago are so appealing to criminals, it draws them because of so many easy targets. Although statistics are starting to show that since concealed carry has gone into affect certain crimes are showing a decline. Of course the foolish Chief of Police Gary McCarthy thinks its because of policing changes…lol! When reality is in ALL the years they have made their “changes” nothing has worked. However now that the criminal element is aware there might be an armed adversary crimes are starting to decline, coincidence? I dont think so!

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