Study: States with Concealed Carry Laws See Increase in Violent Crimes

The study found states with concealed carry laws have seen an increase in violent crimes by 13 to 15 percent within 10 years of the law's enactment.
Published: February 28, 2018

A recent study, released by the National Bureau of Economic Research, found states with right-to-carry (RTC) concealed handgun laws have seen an increase in violent crimes by 13 to 15 percent within 10 years of the law’s enactment.

“There is not even the slightest hint in the data that RTC laws reduce overall violent crime,” John Donohue, a law professor at Stanford University, wrote in the study.

To ensure that the findings were sound, Donohue and his team engaged in several different tests, according to Stanford News. For example, Donahue noticed that Hawaii was included as part of a synthetic control more than any other state. He then re-ran the entire synthetic controls analysis while excluding Hawaii and found there were no major changes in the results.

Donohue then did the same for every other state that contributed to the synthetic controls for any of the 33 adopting states. In all states, right-to-carry laws were linked with higher violent crime rates.

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Study Uses George Zimmerman Case as Example

The study also indicated that the presence of a gun could turn a would-be good guy into an intentional or unintentional bad guy, citing the 2012 Georgia Zimmerman case. Zimmerman was a neighborhood watch volunteer in Sanford, Fla., when he fatally shot unarmed 17-year-old Trayvon Martin following an altercation. Zimmerman claimed it was self-defense and was acquitted of second-degree murder and manslaughter in July 2013.

“Presumably, George Zimmerman would not have hassled Trayvon Martin if Zimmerman had not had a gun, so the gun encouraged a hostile confrontation, regardless of who ultimately becomes violent,” write the authors of the report.

Donohue says the Zimmerman case is one of many that he found where “these guys are likely to be more aggressive.”

“The presence of the gun actually stimulates more provocative action and ends up getting people killed,” he said.

Other studies have challenged these most recent results, including a 1997 study co-authored by economist John Lott. The study examined crime data from 1977 and 1992 and found that the greater presence of concealed weapons led to a decrease in crime.

Some experts believe the reason there is a lack of studies relating to gun violence is because of active efforts to prevent research from occurring, reports ABC News.

The 1996 Dickey Amendment, lobbied for by the NRA, banned funds from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention from being used to advocate or promote gun control.

2014 FBI Report Supports New Study’s Findings

A 2014 report from the FBI also supports the study’s claim that arming civilians doesn’t prevent gun violence, according to NY Daily News.

The report examined 160 active shooter incidents from 2000 to 2013. Of those 160 incidents, five resulted in an armed civilian exchanging gunfire with the shooter, leading to the shooter being killed, wounded or taking his own life.

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By contrast, 21 of the incidents ended after an unarmed citizen “safely and successfully restrained the shooter,” according to the report.

“Most of the time, if you’re talking about a civilian stopping a mass shooter, it’s the unarmed guy without the gun because they’re right there,” says Donohue. “It’s not very often that somebody with a gun who’s a private citizen plays a useful role in ending these mass shooting events.”

The study’s findings cast doubt on the National Rifle Association’s mantra that “the only way to stop a bad guy with a gun is with a good guy with a gun.”

The statement was made by NRA chief executive Wayne LaPierre following the 2012 Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting and was reiterated following the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School shooting.

David Chipman, who served as a special agent for the Bureau of Alcohol Tobacco and Firearms for 25 years before becoming a policy adviser at Giffords, a gun violence prevention advocacy group, is mainly concerned with the lack of training for civilians with concealed weapons.

“I was a good guy with a gun. I was a member of ATF’s version of SWAT and I know what it takes, and the training that is required to perform during a critical incident when rounds are being fired at you,” said Chipman. “I can imagine scenarios wherein trained hands, a gun could be used in self-defense of oneself. It’s a whole ‘nother thing to imagine [how] a gun in untrained hands could somehow result in winning a gun battle, and my belief is that this ‘good guy with a gun’ messaging really is a sales technique to encourage people to believe that their capabilities with a gun are well beyond what they would actually be like in scenario like Parkland.”


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