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.

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

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.

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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About the Author


Amy is Campus Safety’s Executive Editor. Prior to joining the editorial team in 2017, she worked in both events and digital marketing.

Amy has many close relatives and friends who are teachers, motivating her to learn and share as much as she can about campus security. She has a minor in education and has worked with children in several capacities, further deepening her passion for keeping students safe.

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9 responses to “Study: States with Concealed Carry Laws See Increase in Violent Crimes”

  1. Warren Gerig says:

    Not sure you examined the route cause of the increase in violence. I can’t speak for other States, however the reason for Colorado’s increase has nothing to do with Concealed Carry Permits. In our case we are thankful we have the right to protect ourselves. Since moving hear in the 1970’s there has been a huge increase in population and not all good people have come to Colorado. A lot of people moved here from places suffering from natural disasters, refugee resettlement programs, escaping higher taxes, and marijuana our biggest evil. Along came the violence so again we are thankful we can protect ourselves.

  2. Larry says:

    Your article is quite biased and is not an honest evaluation of conceal carry laws.

    “21 of the incidents ended after an unarmed citizen “safely and successfully restrained the shooter,” , I’d be interested in knowing how exactly they accomplished this. Without actual facts, this statement seems quite a stretch, as an armed shooter who has already killed others will indeed shoot anyone who attempts to stop him/her.

    ““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.” – again, leading with the word “presumably” allows the author to make subjective statements, therefore invalidating it as being factual. Please don’t fall into the method commonly used by current media outlets, using their “truths” versus using verified FACTS, to advance an agenda.

    I hope others understand when biased articles are published that are actually promoting the authors agenda. This does not help anything in the public sphere, yet it pushes the divisiveness that prevents true solutions from being implemented.

  3. Tim Zagorski says:

    I would be curious to know the “Location” of those 160 shooting incidents in the FBI report and how many of them were in “Gun Free” Killer zones. That would explain the other side of the story as to why “Only 5” were stopped by a Lawfully Armed Citizen.

  4. Cameron Sharpe, CPP says:

    Donahue’s conclusions appear to be logical, since they examine untrained civilians. Indeed, carrying a weapon (of any type) can lead to overconfidence and even bullying by those so inclined, including an occasional sworn officer.

    The recent Texas law allowing school officials or teachers who undergo extensive peace officer level training and psychological evaluation should be interesting to watch. There doesn’t appear to be any logical reason why a civilian, trained to the same level as a sworn officer, could not be as effective in a crisis. Indeed, there are numerous examples with results just the opposite of the Zimmerman case. It is of course important, that an authorized protector be easily identified with a badge, vest or such to prevent “friendly fire” accidents which do occur on occasion among the most highly trained law enforcement officers.

    There are two areas where we could likely see rather dramatic and immediate reductions in mass violence. The first is coordination of efforts to interdict serious mental health threats, along with an examination of the the unintended consequences of the HIPPA law. The second is the publicity motive of mass killers. Withholding the name, photo and agenda of mass killers would remove a major motivation – without compromising the rights of a free press. Certainly, these facts will leak onto social media, but keeping the picture, name and agenda off the front page can dramatically drain the motive from the hundreds of copycat killers.

    Unless we deal with the underlying societal issues, we will only see trivial band-aid solutions. The real solution is…..the “Golden Rule.”

  5. Larry says:

    Donahue’s finding are directly opposite of Dr.John Lott, finding that CCW permit holder are much less likely to break the law, less that LEO’S and correction officers. Does Mr. D take into account that people do have a legal right to defend themselves or is it like the false news of 28 school shooting in 2018?

  6. Michael McDermott says:

    I find those stats to be unbelievable. 2008 CDC study showed just the opposite. The study was done by request of the Obama administration. The results did not favor their view so the hide the study.

  7. Jon LoBiondo says:

    Could we be looking at the fact that someone using a gun to protect himself uses violence to stop the perpetrator? Thus creating a violent situation. If someone approaches me with a gun or knife and I do not have one, I am more inclined to just comply and give them what they want. This disproportional show of power eliminates the need for violent behaviors even by criminals. Conversely, most if not all, criminal/survival situations require violent interactions for a person to protect himself or loved ones. We can craft studies to show whatever data we want them to show. The data needs to be compared with refuting data to find the truth.

  8. Clinton Pirtle says:

    Sorry, I’m only a military veteran, sniper trained and retired from 32 years as a LEO, and competitive shooter, with a degree in criminal justice/sociology. But what do I know, I’ve instructed military, police and civilians for over three decades and saved lives in a gunfight myself. Guns in civilian hands save lives every day. I do not agree with your article or facts.

  9. Chaplain Webb says:

    Using outdated information to push for the far left agenda. How about you use the out dated and updated information of states that do not have strict gun laws. Let us use updated information showing that there is more gun crimes in gun free zones than non-gun free zone. How about we use the information about school shootings that they choose a school with no cops in sight.

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