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Tipsheet

Concealed Carry Permits Reach All-Time High

There are over 14.5 million Americans that have a concealed carry permit. That’s an all-time high, according to John Lott of the Crime Prevention Research Center. It’s an increase of 1.73 million this year alone, breaking the previous record of 1.69 million last year. Overall, Lott says there’s been a 215 percent increase in concealed carry permits holders since 2007. 

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Women and minorities mostly fuel the surge. In fact, Lott writes in the abstract of his paper that there’s “some evidence suggest[ing] that permit-holding is increasing about 75% more quickly among minorities than among whites.”

Lott also added that Florida, Pennsylvania, and Texas are states in which one million of their residents are CCW-permit holders. He adds that ten states have a permit holding demographic that constitutes about 10 percent of the respective population, with Indiana being the highest at 15 percent. And, in keeping with national trends, women obtaining permits has increased twice the rate of men between 2012 and 2016. Concerning crime, the CPRC says that between 2007 and 2015, the murder rate fell from 5.6 to 4.7 per 100,000—a 16 percent drop.

The real spike in CCW permits came during the Obama presidency, which also saw a massive spike in sales. Since Barack Obama has taken office, over 100 million firearms have been sold:

…during the eight years from 1999 to 2007, the number of permits increased by about 240,000 annually. During the next four years, the number of permits surged by 850,000 annually. Then, in 2012 and 2013, the yearly increase accelerated to 1,550,000. Then 1,690,000 last year and 1,730,000 this year.

The rapid increase in concealed carry permits is mirrored by a rapid increase in gun sales. The National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS) checks soared from 11.2 to 23.1 million between 2007 and 2015. Sales in 2016 have grown at an even faster pace.

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One thing that Lott does mention is that we have 11 states where permits are no longer required to carry a concealed firearm, so those who are exercising their Second Amendment rights this way could be much higher. In this regard, yes–thanks, Obama. 

Oh, and did I mentioned that CCW holders are insanely law-abiding, like the vast majority of America’s gun owners:

To get an idea of just how law-abiding concealed handgun permit holders are, we need only compare them to police. According to a study in Police Quarterly, police committed an average of 703 crimes per year from 2005 to 2007.8 113 of these involved firearms violations. This is likely to be an underestimate, since not all police crimes receive media coverage. The authors of the study may also have missed some media reports.

So how law-abiding are police? With about 685,464 full-time police officers in the U.S. from 2005 to 2007, we find that there were about 103 crimes per hundred thousand officers. For the U.S. population as a whole, the crime rate was 37 times higher -- 3,813 per hundred thousand people.

Perhaps police crimes are underreported due to leniency from fellow officers, but the vast crime gap between police and the general populace is really undeniable.

Concealed carry permit holders are even more law-abiding than police. Between October 1, 1987 and June 30, 2015, Florida revoked 9,999 concealed handgun permits for misdemeanors or felonies.9 This is an annual revocation rate of 12.8 permits per 100,000. In 2013 (the last year for which data is available), 158 permit holders were convicted of a felony or misdemeanor – a conviction rate of 22.3 per 100,000.10 Combining the data for Florida and Texas data, we find that permit holders are convicted of misdemeanors and felonies at less than a sixth the rate for police officers.

Among police, firearms violations occur at a rate of 16.5 per 100,000 officers. Among permit holders in Florida and Texas, the rate is only 2.4 per 100,000.10 That is just 1/7th of the rate for police officers. But there's no need to focus on Texas and Florida — the data are similar in other states.

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