Murder rates drop as concealed carry permits soar: report
The number of concealed carry handgun permits has skyrocketed since President Obama was first elected, while murder rates have fallen, according to a new report released Wednesday.
Since 2007, the number of concealed handgun permits has soared from 4.6 million to over 12.8 million, and murder rates have fallen from 5.6 killings per 100,000 people to just 4.2, about a 25 percent drop, according to the report from the Crime Prevention Research Center.
And the number of permits issued is increasing faster every year. Over 1.7 million new permits were issued last year — a 15.4 percent increase over 2013, the largest such single-year jump ever, according to the report from the center led by President John R. Lott and research director John E. Whitley.
The number of concealed carriers is likely even higher, since permits are not required in eight states.
Gun rights advocates say that the findings in the report fall in line with their personal experiences and research and directly refute the liberal argument that more guns lead to more violence.
“It puts the lie to the myth promulgated by anti-gun individuals that somehow more law-abiding citizens carrying guns will lead to more crime. In fact, quite the opposite is the case,” said Larry Keene, senior vice president and general counsel for the National Shooting Sports Foundation. “More law-abiding citizens own firearms for self-protection, and crime continues to decline.”
But gun control advocates denounced the report, pointing to other studies showing concealed handguns are more frequently used for non-self-defense killings.
“Concealed carry killers are a threat to public safety. The evidence is clear that all too often, private citizens use their concealed handguns to take lives, not to save them,” a statement from the Violence Policy Center’s Concealed Carry Killers page reads.
A spokesperson for the center did not reply to multiple requests for comment.
According to the center, there have been 561 incidents in 36 states and the District of Columbia involving concealed handguns that have resulted in 743 deaths. “Only a tiny fraction of these cases are ever ruled to be in self-defense,” the website states.
But according to the latest report, concealed carriers are among the most law-abiding citizens in the country, even more so than police officers.
In Florida and Texas permit holders are convicted of misdemeanors of felonies at one-sixth the rate that police officers are convicted, according to the report.
“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,” said Larry Pratt, executive director of Gun Owners of America. “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.”
Data on gun sales and recent opinion polls indicate that more people are warming up to the idea of gun ownership. A 2000 Gallup Poll found that 35 percent of Americans thought that owning a gun made their home safer. By 2014 that number soared to 63 percent.
A Dec. 2014 Pew Research poll found, for the first time in more than two decades, there was more support for gun rights than gun control, with 52 percent of respondents saying it is more important to protect the right of Americans to own guns, while 46 percent said it was more important to control gun ownership.