The New York Times’ Bogus Crime Data about Concealed-Handgun Permit Holders

The New York Times’ Bogus Crime Data about Concealed-Handgun Permit Holders

For the fourth time in less than two years, the New York Times has run an editorial repeating blatantly false numbers to convince readers that concealed-handgun permit holders are dangerous (January 12, 2017; December 1, 2016; November 26, 2015; February 11, 2015)….

Concealed-handgun permit holders are also much more law-abiding than the rest of the population. In fact, they are convicted at an even lower rate than police officers. According to a study in Police Quarterly, from 2005 to 2007, police committed 703 crimes annually on average. Of those, there were 113 firearms violations on average. This is likely to be an underestimate, since not all police crimes receive media coverage. 

With 683,396 full-time law-enforcement employees nationwide in 2006, we can infer that there were about 102 crimes by police per 100,000 officers. Among the U.S. population as a whole, the crime rate was 37 times higher than the police crime rate over those years — 3,813 per 100,000 people.

Now let’s look at permit holders. Between October 1, 1987, and January 31, 2015, Florida revoked 9,366 concealed-handgun permits for misdemeanor or felony offenses. This is an annual rate of 12.5 crimes per 100,000 permit holders — a mere eighth of the crime rate among officers. In Texas, 108 permit holders were convicted of misdemeanors or felonies in 2015 — the last year for which data are available. This is a rate of 10.8 per 100,000, scarcely more than a tenth of the rate for police.

Among police, firearms violations occur at a rate of 6.9 per 100,000 officers. For Florida permit holders, the rate is only 0.31 per 100,000. Most of these violations were trivial offenses, such as forgetting one’s permit. The data are similar in other states.

The New York Times is doing an injustice by providing false numbers about an issue with such immediate relevance to public safety. There is no excuse for this, as the Times has been repeatedly called out in letters to the editor and elsewhere. But the same fake numbers keep turning up because they fit the Times’ political agenda.

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