- A new study finds that an increase in concealed carry permits has accompanied a decrease in murder. (AP)
A dramatic spike in the number of Americans with permits to carry concealed weapons coincides with an equally stark drop in violent crime, according to a new study, which Second Amendment advocates say makes the case that more guns can mean safer streets.
The study by the Crime Prevention Research Center found that 11.1 million Americans now have permits to carry concealed weapons, up from 4.5 million in 2007. The 146 percent increase has come even as both murder and violent crime rates have dropped by 22 percent.
“When you allow people to carry concealed handguns, you see changes in the behavior of criminals,” said the center’s president, John R. Lott, a Fox News contributor. “Some criminals stop committing crimes, others move on to crimes in which they don’t come into contact with victims and others actually move to areas where they have less fear of being confronted by armed victims.”
Six states don’t require a permit for legal gun owners to conceal their weapons, and Lott notes those states have some of the lowest violent crime rates in the nation.
The real measure of the deterrent effect of concealed carry permits, according to Lott, is not laws on the books, but the percentage of a given state’s population that holds the permits. In 10 states, more than 8 percent of adults hold concealed carry permits, and all are among the states with the lowest crime rates. Lott claims his group’s analysis shows that each one percentage point increase in the adult population holding permits brings a 1.4 percent drop in the murder rate.
“We found that the size of the drop [in crime] is directly related to the percentage of the population with permits,” Lott said.
Earlier this year, the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that California must allow law-abiding citizens to carry concealed firearms in public, striking down the core of the state’s permit system for handguns. The judges found in a 2-1 holding that San Diego County’s rule that residents must show “good cause” — and not merely the desire to protect themselves — to obtain a concealed-weapons permit, violated their constitutional rights.
That ruling is awaiting an en banc review by the entire circuit.