Some Truths Behind The Latest Concealed Carry Statistics in America

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Across the United States, fewer US citizens applied for new concealed carry permits. That’s what the numbers say, and it is true from a certain perspective. It’s also true that more people are legally carrying concealed firearms than ever before. That may seem like a contradiction, but it not. And it’s also very good news.

What’s behind falling number of carry permits is the considerable number of states that have adopted permitless or constitutional carry laws. Those laws typically say you don’t need a license to carry a concealed firearm as long as you would have qualified to get one. That means, if you don’t have a criminal record, you don’t need to get a permission slip from the state to carry concealed in public.

Even with constitutional carry in your state, though, you’ll often want a carry permit if you drive to another state and want to carry there.

Back to the report from John Lott, we now have a record number of people who are legally carrying a personal firearm, but fewer of them had to apply for and pay for a state license in order to do so. That is very good news.

concealed carry vs. murders violent crime charts
Courtesy Crime Prevention Research Center

People who don’t have a carry permit often worry that more people are now carrying a gun, but they don’t have the training that the state previously required. That concern sounds obvious, but there’s a flaw in that thinking.

Suppose you want to learn something new. Let’s say you wanted to speak a foreign language or to learn how to drive a motorcycle. Like everyone else, you only have so much time and money to invest in your new pursuit. For the sake of argument, let’s say that you have enough time and money to buy ten hours of training.

You start the class and then discover that we’re going to pay you extra money to take that training class. We’re going to pay you to buy the foreign language books. We’re going to pay some of the cost of your motorcycle and driving instruction. It wouldn’t surprise anyone that you’d then take more language classes or get more driving instruction if someone pays you to do that.

You get more of what you subsidize and you get less of what you tax.

It shouldn’t surprise anyone that self-defense students take less instruction when the state taxes them.

Politicians don’t call carry permits a tax on your gun rights, but that is what they are when you have to pay for a carry permit, for fingerprint fees, and for the state-mandated classes. Those classes usually have little to do with actual self-defense. If it acts like a tax then we should call it a tax.

We get less of something once we tax it. That’s exactly what politicians told us would happen when they tax alcohol, gasoline, and cigarettes. We also get less concealed carry and self-defense instruction when we tax that, too.

It shouldn’t surprise anyone that we have more people take firearms safety instruction when we stop taxing it. Our neighbors spent more money on training when they didn’t also have to pay an additional fee for a carry permit as well as paying for their firearms training. That’s some of the good news for constitutional carry, but wait…there’s more.

I remember applying to buy a gun and needing several letters telling the police officers that I was a good guy. My friends had to explain how long they’ve known me.

Fortunately, I’d been in that town long enough to meet the requirements so I could get a firearm. That old application scheme worked for me, but it doesn’t work for everyone. It certainly didn’t work if you were new in town.

Those permitting schemes were originally put in place to keep recent immigrants disarmed. They ignored the fact that the criminals don’t apply for permits. They just buy their guns from the drug dealer down the street. Licensing and permit schemes were a way to control who got to exercise their right of armed self-defense. They were a way for politicians to reward their friends and punish their enemies.

Anything that reduces political corruption is a step in the right direction, even if the mayor and the chief of police complain about it.

There’s a wide variation in how states treat carry permitting. Alabama has the highest percentage of adults with carry permits at 27.8%. One county in Alabama has almost two-thirds of the adults with permits even though Alabama is now a constitutional carry state. In Pennsylvania, a five-year permit only costs $20 and over 15% of adults have carry permits. The fingerprint fee in Indiana — where 23% of the adult population carries — is $12.95 and the permit is free.

There are a number of states where carry permits are now free. It will be fascinating to see how many people still apply for them. In contrast, some cities in California have raised the cost of a carry permit to over a thousand dollars. The fact that you get less of what you tax isn’t lost on politicians.



This article originally appeared at Rob Morse’s Slow Facts and is reprinted here with permission.