Even though our right to keep and bear arms is protected by our Constitution, statistics matter in the debate over gun ownership. It’s just the world we live in. Sure, one can make an argument that one’s fundamental right to protect oneself shouldn’t be tied to crime statistics — my individual right to protect myself, my family and my property exists regardless of how high or low crime rates are — but as long as there are those hellbent on taking away our Second Amendment rights statistics will always come into play when the debate heats up.
The good news, of course, is that the statistics and the facts are on our side. We have empirical data to demonstrate that responsible gun ownership has a net positive effect on society. Plainly stated, more law-abiding citizens responsibly exercising their Second Amendment rights generally makes the country a safer place.
New evidence of this phenomenon comes courtesy of a report put together by economist John Lott, Jr. the president of the Crime Prevention Research Center, a research and education organization dedicated to conducting academic quality research on the relationship between laws regulating the ownership or use of guns, crime, and public safety.
The 41-page report, titled, “Concealed Carry Permit Holders Across the United States: 2016,” comes to the following conclusions about gun ownership, specifically, the right to carry, and its effect on society:
- During President Obama’s administration, the number of concealed handgun permits has soared to over 14.5 million – a 215% increase since 2007.
- The increase in the number of concealed handgun permits last year set another record, increasing by 1.73 million. That is slightly greater than previous record of 1.69 million set the last year.
- 6.06% of the total adult population has a permit.
- In ten states, more than 10% of adults have concealed handgun permits. Indiana has the highest rate — 15%. South Dakota is close behind with 14.7%.
- Florida, Pennsylvania, and Texas each have over a million residents who are active permit holders.
- In another 11 states, a permit is no longer required to carry in all or virtually all of the state.Thus the growth in permits does not provide a full picture of the overall increase in concealed carry.
- Between 2012 and 2016, in states that provide data by gender, the number of women with permits has increased twice as quickly as the number of men with permits.
- Some evidence suggests that permit-holding is increasing about 75% more quickly among minorities than among whites.
- Between 2007 and 2015, murder rates fell from 5.6 to 4.7 (preliminary estimate) per 100,000 This represents a 16% drop. Overall violent crime fell by 18 percent. Meanwhile, the percentage of adults with permits has soared by 190%.
- Regression estimates show a significant association between increased permit ownership and a drop in murder and violent crime rates. Each one percentage point increase in rates of permit-holding is associated with a roughly 2.5 percent drop in the murder rate. This holds true even after accounting for the number of police per capita, demographics, and the percentage of the population that is incarcerated,
- Concealed handgun permit holders are extremely law-abiding. In Florida and Texas, permit holders are convicted of misdemeanors and felonies at one-sixth of the rate at which police officers are convicted.
While it’s wonderful to hear that more than 14 million Americans have obtained a permit to carry concealed, the real takeaway from this report, the point that bears repeating, is that “each percentage point increase in rates of permit-holding is associated with a roughly 2.5 percent drop in the murder rate.”
More concealed carriers have the potential to reduce crime and make the country a safer place. As we so often say, an armed society is a polite society. Now, that’s a counter-intuitive proposition for gun-grabbers because they ultimately believe that firearms are inherently evil and that the mere presence of them makes society a more dangerous place.
“I think that we’ve got to reign in what has become an almost article of faith that anybody can have a gun anywhere, anytime. And I don’t believe that is in the best interest of the vast majority of people. . . . carrying guns in public places. . . .” said Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton at the National Council for Behavioral Health on May 6, 2016.
But when one looks at the data, as presented by the CPRC, it becomes abundantly clear that guns are good for the vast majority of people.
Now skeptics will argue that correlation doesn’t equal causation, which is true in the sense that there are many factors that influence crime rates and to conclude that concealed carry is solely responsible for a reduction in crime rates is an untenable position, however, what we can say for sure is that more concealed carriers do not increase crime rates. In other words, we — the law-abiding gun owners and our millions and millions of guns — are not the problem. If anything, we are part of the solution to the thugs, drug dealers and evildoers responsible for the violence in this country.
To bolster the point that we are not the problem, the report noted that concealed carriers are extremely lawful people, and that in Florida and Texas, “permit holders are convicted of misdemeanors and felonies at one-sixth of the rate at which police officers are convicted.”
So, there you have it. More evidence that gun ownership, via concealed carry, is good for this country. Now, if we can only spread the word. That’s the real issue the gun community faces, convincing the non-gun owning public that we are not the problem, rather we are part of the solution. We have the facts, we just need to get them out there to the mainstream. So, please, share this report with your non-gun owning friends and family. Get the word out.
Our interview with John Lott Jr. at SHOT Show 2015: