More than 16.3 million Americans are now licensed to carry across the 50 states, an increase of 1.83 million over the past 12 months, according to a new report released this week by the Crime Prevention Research Center (CPRC).
The report is titled “Concealed Carry Permit Holders Across the United States: 2017.”
UPDATE: The Virginia Citizens Defense League has a petition to support the National Concealed Carry Reciprocity (HR 38) bill on the White House website. It must collect 100,000 signatures by Aug. 17.
According to an abstract, “Outside of California and New York, 8 percent of adults have a permit. Permits for women and blacks are increasing much faster than they are for men and whites.”
The report, prepared by CPRC President John Lott, Jr. also includes this revelation:
“During President Obama’s administration, the number of concealed handgun permits soared to over 16.36 million – a 256% increase since 2007.”
Surprisingly, the push for concealed carry permits and licenses has not slowed since Donald Trump was elected in November.
“Did last year’s robust increase in permits fizzle out after the November election,” the report wondered. “Fortunately, 13 states have recent monthly data from December 2016 through April 2017. They show a 3% increase in permits in just four months. Twelve of the states have data for May as well, with a 3.8% increase in five months. Finally, eight states have data through June, showing a 4.2% increase in half a year. All three imply an annualized increase that is only slightly slower than the increase for the US over the whole year. Despite expectations, concealed handgun permits issuance clearly continued to grow after President Trump’s election last November.”
The 61-page document is loaded with data, and there is an indication that increased concealed carry from 2007 through 2015 coincided with a decline in the national murder rate, from 5.6 to 4.9 per 100,000 population. The report notes that 2015 is the last full year for which crime data is available.
“This represents a 12.5% drop,” the report said. “Overall violent crime fell by 18 percent. Meanwhile, the percentage of adults with permits soared by 190%.”
The report’s abstract also takes a swipe at discretionary concealed carry laws.
“There are also significant differences in not only the number of permits issued but also who gets them when politicians have discretion in granting them,” the report states. “Los Angeles County provides a vivid example of how women and Hispanics are given few permits when politicians decided who can defend themselves.”
Concealed carry accounts for a growing percentage of firearms sales and ownership. A Pew Research survey quoted in the report notes that 30 percent of American adults own a gun and 72 percent of those gun owners own a handgun of some kind.
One thing the report says is that these gun owners are a law-abiding bunch.
“Concealed handgun permit holders are extremely law-abiding,” the CPRC report states. “In Florida and Texas, permit holders are convicted of misdemeanors and felonies at one-sixth of the rate at which police officers are convicted.”
Whether this continued rise in licensed concealed carry translates to political action on gun law reform, such as elimination of so-called “gun-free zones,” is speculative at best. One thing is clear, however. With a growing number of Americans going through the process to legally carry a concealed sidearm, it is going to be much harder for the gun control lobby and their allies on Capitol Hill and in state legislatures to restrict where and when people can carry.