The number of Americans carrying concealed firearms has exploded in recent years, and contrary to the narratives and fearmongering peddled by anti-gun-rights activists, the sky did not fall. In fact, according to the most recent data, not only did the sky not fall, murder rates and violent crime over the same period have plunged dramatically — demolishing the claims of gun-control proponents, while bolstering the pragmatic case for even broader proliferation of public firearms ownership.
Of course, as The New American has reported for years, experts who study the issue have long known that more guns in the hands of law-abiding citizens is correlated with less violent crime and murder. A report released last week by the Crime Prevention Research Center confirms that fact yet again, and makes it abundantly clear: In the United States, as more and more people were legally carrying weapons in public, fewer people were being murdered and violently victimized by criminals.
According to the study, the number of concealed handgun permits skyrocketed from about 4.5 million in 2007 to almost 13 million in 2014 — and that does not include millions of people carrying concealed firearms in the growing number of states where no permit is required. During that same time period, U.S. murder rates plunged some 25 percent, from 5.6 killings per 100,000 to a mere 4.2, even further below the global average of about 7 (and America has far more guns in private hands than any other nation). Overall violent crime also plunged by about 25 percent during the period.
Put another way, as the number of permits issued for concealed-carry surged by more than 150 percent, murder and violent crime declined by one-fourth. And as one might expect, the states with the largest increase in the number of people carrying concealed weapons also enjoyed the steepest relative drop in murder rates and violent crime, the non-partisan Crime Prevention Research Center report showed.
“We've seen a huge range in the research that's been done, but this paper simply shows that the states with the biggest increases in the percentage of the population with permits have seen the biggest drop in murder rates and crime,” said Crime Prevention Research Center chief John Lott, author of the book More Guns, Less Crime and one of the world’s leading experts on the relationship between firearms ownership and crime. Speaking to Real Clear Policy, Lott cited dozens of other studies that mesh well with the latest findings.
All of those positive trends look set to continue as millions more Americans rush to carry concealed firearms. According to the report entitled “Concealed Carry Permit Holders Across the United States: 2015,” the number of concealed handgun permits is “increasing at an ever-increasing rate.” Over the past year, 1.7 million new permits were issued, representing more than a 15-percent increase in a single year. The Crime Prevention Research Center said it was the largest ever single-year increase in U.S. history.
Already, more than five percent of American adults have a permit to carry concealed, and in five states, more than 10 percent of adults possess a permit. But even those skyrocketing numbers can be deceptive, because 10 states no longer require a permit to carry. “This is a major reason why legal carrying of handguns is growing so much faster than the number of permits,” the report found.
Just this month, Maine became the latest “constitutional carry” state to do away with permits, and the trend is accelerating as Americans become increasingly pro-Second Amendment. Other states that do not require a permit — dubbed “constitutional carry” by activists and lawmakers, who say they should not need a permit to exercise God-given, constitutionally protect rights — include Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, Kansas, Maine, Montana, Vermont, and Wyoming. Numerous conservative-leaning states are considering similar measures to protect and expand gun rights.
Other findings in the report are just as problematic for the billionaire-funded citizen-disarmament lobby. For example, despite collectivist attempts to caricature concealed-carry permit holders as cranky “old white men,” the data paint a much different picture. Since 2007, permits for women surged by 270 percent, compared with just 156 percent for men — rapists beware! The report also cited evidence suggesting that permit holding by minorities was increasing more than twice as quickly as for whites.
One area for improvement, the report’s author found, would be for states to reduce cost barriers for permits. Lott argued that certain states such as Illinois, for example, where it costs more than $400 to obtain a permit, are in effect discriminating against poor Americans — often those who most need guns for self-defense. “We’re making it so the most vulnerable people in our society are being priced out of the ability to defend themselves,” he said. “That's the big concern I have in terms of trying to fix the permit system.”
The report also confirmed previous research showing that Americans with concealed-carry permits tend to be “extremely” law-abiding relative to the rest of the population — and even compared to law-enforcement officials. In Florida and Texas, the Center found, permit holders are convicted of misdemeanors or felonies at one-sixth the rate that police officers are convicted.
“Police are rarely convicted of misdemeanors or violent felonies, and so it was surprising to find permit holders were so incredibly law abiding,” said Lott, the author of the study. “I don't think there is any group in the U.S. population that's as law-abiding as permit holders are. If somebody is going to go up and commit a crime, they aren't going to bother going through the process of getting a concealed handgun permit. I think that's pretty clear.”
Larry Pratt, executive director of Gun Owners of America, the nation’s most principled defender of gun rights, suggested other forces might be at work as well. “The citizen concealed carrier I don’t think ever forgets the fact that he’s a citizen on display, and he knows that he’s representative of a group of people,” he was quoted as saying by the Washington Times. “The last thing a concealed carrier wants to do is get into a situation where they have to use the gun. Even if it were a legitimate use, they know just what kind of horrible mess their life will become once they use that gun.”
While gun-rights proponents celebrated the findings in the report as further evidence that the right to keep and bear arms is a major deterrent to criminals and murderers seeking out easy targets, anti-gun rights activists refused to comment on the new report. Instead, in the face of mountains of evidence and a seismic shift in public opinion on guns, advocates of citizen-disarmament continue their failing efforts to contain the accelerating proliferation of gun ownership across America.
Ironically, one of the major causes behind the unprecedented surge in the carrying of concealed firearms across America has been Obama — and especially his attempts, sometimes with complicity from Congress, to attack the Second Amendment. The administration’s war on gun rights has backfired perhaps more spectacularly than any other scheming advanced by the White House, according to analysts.
From record gun sales and record-high numbers of Americans carrying concealed to the ongoing surge in state laws nullifying unconstitutional federal gun-control schemes, Obama is clearly losing the war on gun rights. However, the administration and its anti-Second Amendment allies — at the UN, in Congress, and among the establishment — have no intention of admitting defeat or backing off the assault. As such, the growing number of Americans getting serious about exercising their right to keep and bear arms must remain constantly vigilant. Private-sector criminals may be on the run, but politicians just don’t quit.