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Gun Factoids–Concealed Carry

One of the tidbits you often hear in gun control arguments is that states with concealed carry laws have lower rates of violent crime. Based on 2006 data from the Census Bureau and the FBI, here’s how things broke down.

Violent Crime Total (incidence per 100,000)
Unrestricted Carry: 425
Shall Issue (state law requires issuance of permit): 476
May Issue (issuing authority allowed some discretion): 475
No Issue: 481

So, yes, states allowing concealed carry did have slightly lower violent crime rates in 2006. Violent crime here means attempted and completed assault, murder, robbery, rape, and sexual assault. Let’s see how concealed carry does with completed crimes. Note that the lowest numbers here are going to fluctuate the most from year to year.

Robbery
Unrestricted Carry: 8.3
Shall Issue: 1.9
May Issue: 1.3
No Issue: 4.2

Aggravated Assault
Unrestricted Carry: 310
Shall Issue: 294
May Issue: 277
No Issue: 272

Forcible Rape
Unrestricted Carry: 51
Shall Issue: 35
May Issue: 24
No Issue: 24

Murder
Unrestricted Carry: 3.7
Shall Issue: 5.8
May Issue: 5.4
No Issue: 6.1

Hmm, not looking great for concealed carry, except for unrestricted carry in the category with the lowest, most variable numbers. While it’s not a violent crime, let’s also look at the breakdown for suicide.

Suicide
Unrestricted Carry: 18
Shall Issue: 13
May Issue: 9
No Issue: 9

Ouch.

Now, for caveats: This is one year of data. Rates vary from year to year. None of this is meant to suggest, on its own at least, that a strongly interpreted right to carry is bad for you or makes you less. What it is meant to do is demonstrate how small a piece of the picture the cited (slightly) lower rate of violent crime actually is. It doesn’t do nearly enough to prove that guns make you safer or stop crimes from being completed.

Remember that the next time you hear it.

Comments

  1. says

    I'm sorta the opposite of many folk: I'm more impressed when the numbers are adjusted for known confounders, where a lot of those I know don't trust statistics which have been "massaged."Of course, that may come down to picking the answers that we like best. I'm not totally sure about the impact on crime but vaguely recall that the gun-law differences are a lot smaller than other influences, which calls the whole business into question.

  2. says

    Possibly, but these are reported rape statistics, which (even for forcible rape) are problematic. I can come up with potential common explanations for both, but I'd want a bunch more data before it became anything to dig into.

  3. says

    So there is a possible link suggested by these data of relative frequency of rape and gun nuttiness?"Link" is such a lovely word, Greg. The first one that comes to mind is that gun fetishism and misogyny have a pretty strong cultural correlation.

  4. says

    No way of knowing if the presented numbers are significantly different. While the rape values definitely trend upwards for states with concealed gun laws, a couple of outliers could potentially be skewing the results. Standard deviations would be nice.

  5. says

    Thomas, there are no standard deviations for what I did. These aren't averages. They're absolute rates: total number of instances divided by total population. There is quite a bit of variability, though, between the states in each category. I'll add some links to the data as soon as I'm somewhere where I have more than the spreadsheet with me.

  6. says

    At the risk of never seeing you again, it would be interesting to see the pre-and post carry law data. I seem to recall that shall-issue laws have no significant effect on crime rates, but I can't back that up.

  7. says

    To follow up on my own comment, the shall-issue law passed in MN in 2003 doesn't seem to have made any difference in the total or per-100k violent crimes rate during 1996-2009.