Does Right-to-Carry Support Law Enforcement?
As published in NewsWithViews.com
Each year, the FBI publishes violent crime data collected from state law enforcement agencies. This publication includes justifiable homicide (JH) totals for both law enforcement and private citizens.1 Upon request, state-level JH is also available.
In its Uniform Crime Reporting Handbook, the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) defines justifiable homicide:
Certain willful killings must be classified as justifiable or excusable. In UCR, Justifiable Homicide is defined as and limited to:
- The killing of a felon by a peace officer in the line of duty.
- The killing of a felon, during the commission of a felony, by a private citizen.2
Justifiable Homicides By Police
In 2006, about two-thirds (65.6%) of the U.S. population lived in states with shall-issue concealed carry laws, where law-abiding citizens — after required training — are issued a license to carry a concealed handgun upon request. These laws are also known as Right-to-Carry (RTC). About half (52.7%) of all justifiable homicides by police occurred in these states.
States without RTC laws contained about one-third (34.4%) of the population and about half of all police JH (47.3%). With an average of 14 police JH occurring in each non-RTC state while RTC states averaged 5, this means that law enforcement justifiable homicides occurred nearly three times more often in non-RTC states.
Of all justifiable police homicides, 70.8% of were self-defense, and an additional 4.9% were in defense of another police officer’s life. Only 48.5% of these occurred in RTC states, while 51.5% occurred in non-RTC states.3
FBI data shows that in 2006, the average violent crime rate for RTC states was 403.5 and their average murder rate was 4.8 (per 100,000 population). The average violent crime rate for non-RTC states was 513.5 and their average murder rate was 6.4.4 Having about half the population of the RTC states, the non-RTC states had higher levels of violent crime and murder, and defensive justifiable homicides by police occurred more frequently.
These data support the conclusion that police departments in non-RTC states acknowledge their officers’ need to protect themselves from very violent criminals who have no compunction about attacking police or private citizens.
Justifiable Homicides By Private Citizens
About three-quarters (73.0%) of civilian justifiable homicide occurred in RTC states, while non-RTC saw about one-quarter (27.0%). Considering population distributions, these JH percentages are close to average for both state groups. However, when compared to police justifiable homicides, an interesting trend appears: In RTC states, for every 100 citizen JH there were 116 police JH, closer to a one-to-one ratio. In non-RTC states, for every 100 citizen JH there were 282 police JH, nearly a three-to-one ratio. In RTC states, civilian justifiable homicides were relatively more common when compared to the number of police justifiable homicides.
For private citizens, 40.7% of all justifiable homicide occurred in self-defense and defense of others. More than three-quarters (76.5%) of these occurred in RTC states, while less than one-quarter (23.5%) occurred in non-RTC states. Citizen self-defense comprised 31.1% of all civilian justifiable homicides in RTC states but only 9.5% in non-RTC states.
In RTC states, a firearm was used in 86.9% of all civilian JH, compared to 64.6% in non-RTC states. Private citizens in RTC states defended themselves with a firearm in over one fifth (21.2%) of the total of justifiable civilian homicides, over 5 times the 4.1% for non-RTC states.5
Criminals were 27.3% more “successful” in completing violent crime, and 33.3% more “successful” in completing murder attempts, in non-RTC states which highlights the effectiveness of employing a firearm as a self-defense tool (as opposed to becoming a violent crime statistic).
In Right-to-Carry states, private citizens can defend themselves in public. Because the ratio of justifiable homicides by police and citizens is more balanced, and because the level of police defensive justifiable homicide is lower, one can only conclude that armed citizens are quite adept at self-defense; enough to provide a quantifiable level of protection for law enforcement. In non-RTC states, the reduced self-defensive capability of the citizenry correlates with higher rates of violent crime and higher risk to police officers.
1 See Uniform Crime Reports page, Federal Bureau of Investigation.
2 Federal Bureau of Investigation, Uniform Crime Reporting Handbook, revised 2004, page 17.
3 Derived from Excel spreadsheet compiled from Federal Bureau of Investigation, Supplementary Homicide Report – File Listing 2006: By State Within Group (UCR44300), February 20, 2008.
4 Derived from Excel spreadsheet compiled from Federal Bureau of Investigation, Table 5 – Crime in the United States by State, 2006.
5 Derived from Excel spreadsheet compiled from Federal Bureau of Investigation, Supplementary Homicide Report – File Listing 2006: By State Within Group (UCR44300), February 20, 2008.