Concealed Carry and Crime are Not Correlated
Study Says Concealed Carry Permits Don’t Affect Crime
Jonathan Silver, Texas Tribune, September 24, 2015
Supporters insist that allowing people to legally carry concealed handguns reduces crime, but that has not been the result in at least four states that have tried it, including Texas, according to a newly published academic study led by a Texas A&M researcher.
The study comes after Texas lawmakers decided to allow concealed handguns on college campuses. Supporters argued that concealed carry in general prevents crime, while opponents say it can amplify tense situations and create violent ends for disputes. The campus-carry legislation that Gov. Greg Abbott signed into law in June begins to take effect next year.
While previous studies looked at crime rates before and after concealed carry legislation passed in states, the A&M study focused on county-level data while gauging change in crime rates over time.
The lack of impact on crime rates sounds right, said state Rep. Garnet Coleman, a Houston Democrat who chairs the House County Affairs Committee, which tackles criminal justice issues.
“People who commit crimes are less likely to go through that background check,” he said. It’s also unlikely that a concealed handgun license holder would be in the right place at the right time to stop a crime, Coleman said.
The academic community isn’t united on the issue, though. Two 2014 studies reach competing conclusions: one finding that right-to-carry laws lead to an increase in violent crimes, and another concluding right-to-carry laws led to a decrease in the murder rate nationwide.
“Studies are studies,” said Larry Arnold, a board member of the Texas Concealed Handgun Association, which promotes Second Amendment rights and education about gun legislation. Since concealed carry legislation began taking effect more than 35 years ago, he said, opponents have predicted “blood in the streets,” “fender benders turning into fire fights” and “more people with guns would shoot out instead of talk it out.”
But they were wrong, and concealed handgun license holders are less likely than other groups to be involved in a crime, Arnold said, “so I think that’s a pretty good record.”
[NOTE from Phillips: Previous research published in the American Journal of Public Health in 2013 demonstrates that holders of CHLs are much less likely to be convicted of a crime. However, this same study shows that when CHL holders “break bad,” they break very bad. Those who don’t hold CHLs are likely to be convicted of robbery, burglary, and simple assault. The convictions of CHL holders are significantly more likely to be for violent crimes, crimes involving firearms, and crimes involving death. Link to abstract appears below. http://ajph.aphapublications.org/doi/abs/10.2105/AJPH.2012.300807]
The study also reports that the presence of gun dealers — not fear of being victimized — most often prompts people to obtain concealed carry permits.
Disclosure: Texas A&M University is a corporate sponsor of The Texas Tribune. A complete list of Tribune donors and sponsors can be viewed here.
You might also check out an earlier post on this blog concerning “The Gun Lobby and Firearm Fascism in America.”