Two million Americans obtained concealed carry permits in the last 12 months, representing the greatest one-year increase in permits ever recorded by the Crime Prevention Research Center.
The number of permit holders has grown 48% since 2016 and 10% since last year. The previous one-year high of 1.8 million permits occurred in 2017.
A record number of Americans purchased firearms since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, and the CPRC’s new data suggests that those same individuals also sought concealed carry permits.
The surge is even more remarkable considering the number of states that now allow permit-less, or “constitutional,” carry. As of last year, 21 states have waived the requirement to obtain a permit before carrying a concealed firearm. And yet, as CRPC describes it, the number of permits issued has continued to increase “exponentially.”
So many Americans have obtained a concealed carry permit that the odds of a random group of 10 Americans carrying a concealed firearm is now 43%, according to the CRPC. In a room with 20 people, that probability goes up to 67%. With 40, that probability rises to 89%.
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There are a number of likely explanations for this latest 12-month increase. Many states and localities stopped issuing permits during the height of the pandemic, and the CRPC describes a “surge” in states that only recently began re-opening their permit offices.
Rising crime rates have also spurred Americans to obtain means of self-defense. The FBI recently reported a 29% homicide spike last year, the largest single-year increase ever recorded.
This, combined with unrest due to COVID-19, race riots, and economic turbulence, convinced two million Americans to take the concealed carry plunge.
Armed self-defense could be an option for even more Americans in the coming years. Nine states and the District of Columbia are “may issue” states, meaning local law enforcement has broad discretion over whether an applicant has a “good cause” to carry a concealed firearm.
Permit issue rates vary drastically depending on the jurisdiction, but the Supreme Court may soon be changing that dynamic.
The Court is tackling the “may issue” debate in one of their cases this year (New York State Rifle & Pistol Association V. Corlett), and a favorable ruling for the pro-2A side could force “may issue” states to issue permits to all qualified applicants.
The CRPC ran the numbers on seven of the “may issue” states, and they concluded that a positive Court ruling could add another 2.3 million permit holders.