Permissive Concealed-Carry Laws Linked to Higher Homicide Rates

Posted on: October 19, 2017 Topics: guns

thumbnail-concealed-weaponEasier access to concealed firearms is associated with significantly higher rates of handgun-related homicide, according to a new study led by a School of Public Health researcher.

The study, published in the American Journal of Public Health, suggests that current trends towards more permissive concealed-carry laws are inconsistent with the promotion of public safety.

“Some have argued that the more armed citizens there are, the lower the firearm homicide rate will be, because the feared or actual presence of armed citizens may deter violent crime,” said lead author Michael Siegel, professor of community health sciences. “Our study findings suggest that this is not the case.”

Currently, all states allow certain people to carry a concealed handgun, but there are variations in permitting policy. Nine states have “may issue” laws, in which law enforcement officials have wide discretion over whether to issue concealed carry permits; police chiefs can deny a permit if they deem the applicant to be at risk of committing violence even if there is not a criminal history. In 29 states, there is little or no discretion; these are referred to as “shall issue” states. No permit is necessary to carry a concealed handgun in 12 states.

Using data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Web-Based Injury Statistics Query and Reporting Systems database, the researchers mapped out the relationship between changes in state concealed-carry permitting laws over time and total firearm-related homicide rates between 1991 and 2015. They also examined the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s Uniform Crime Reports Supplemental Homicide Reports (SHR) to differentiate between handgun and long-gun homicides. Previous studies have only examined homicide by all firearms.

The researchers found that “shall issue” laws were associated with a 6.5 percent higher total homicide rate than “may issue” laws, as well as an 8.6 percent higher firearm homicide rate and a 10.6 percent higher handgun homicide rate. The researchers found no impact of shall-issue laws on long-gun shootings.

The findings are particularly relevant, the researchers said, because Congress is currently considering “national concealed carry reciprocity” legislation. The legislation would allow anyone to carry a gun in any state as long as they have a concealed carry permit in their own state of residence. The researchers argue that adopting such a policy could lead to significant public health risks.

“The trend toward increasingly permissive concealed carry laws is inconsistent with public opinion, which tends to oppose the carrying of guns in public,” the authors wrote. “Our findings suggest that these laws may also be inconsistent with the promotion of public safety.”

Other SPH authors include: Ziming Xuan, associate professor of community health sciences; Craig Ross, research assistant professor of epidemiology; Sandro Galea, dean and Robert A. Knox Professor; and Bindu Kalesan, assistant professor of community health sciences and assistant professor of medicine at the School of Medicine. Other authors include: Eric Fleegler, specialist in emergency medicine at Children’s Hospital Boston; and Kristin A. Goss, associate professor of public policy at the Duke University Sanford School of Public Policy.

The study was funded by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.

Salma Abdalla




  1. Give up on this stuff guys. It’s getting old. Just like higher levels of CO2 are the RESULT of – not the CAUSE of – increased temperatures during periods of natural (non-anthropogenic) climate change, higher homicide rates are the CAUSE, not the RESULT of more law-abiding CC citizens. The world is laughing at you. Just stop it.

    1. The comment above makes absolutely no sense. The fact that this person doesn’t believe CO2 causes earth temperatures to increase makes it clear that he disregards science and evidence based research.

    2. No Gary, the overwhelming majority of the world is laughing at you and all those who try to deny well controlled, evidence based studies. As for those who say the criminals who are getting killed via self-defense killings are what’s causing the data to show higher homicide rates … you’re profoundly wrong. Those killings were considered and do not at all make a statistically significant difference. And did you really say that higher CO2 levels are the result of global warming? You’ve made it crystal clear that you and science do not get along very well LOL.

  2. This is laughable and infuriating at the same time.

    If there are more people carrying firearms for personal protection then there’s a greater chance that a criminal will pick the wrong “victim”. Some of those unlucky criminals will die as a result of bad luck and poor life choices. If homicide rates stay the same year over year when law abiding citizens are at the mercy of armed criminals, what would you expect to happen when those same law abiding citizens are given the means to effectively fight back? Here’s a hint: Take the old homicide rate, now add to it the number of criminals who met their demise at the hands of a law abiding citizen who chose to defend themselves. Mystery solved.

    You, and the authors of the report seem to assume that all firearm homicides are criminal. It seems you do not account for the fact that sometimes criminals die when they try to visit violence upon others. If someone is killed (with a firearm) when they’re trying to kidnap, rape, mug, or murder another person it goes in with the tally for “firearm related homicides”. Then you lot act as if it’s a tragedy just because the number got bigger. Shameful.

    1. Agree completely. Since the vast majority of people are not crminals, if the same majority of people carry firearms for self defense the odds of the criminals succeeding in their attempts to commit violent crime are dramatically reduced. Of course the idea that all police need guns to achieve this same numerical and fire power advantage seems obvious to the same people who claim it does not work when those who are not in law enforcement possesses guns.

  3. Gary, the only thing that needs to be “given up on” is being a science denier. Did you really say that higher CO2 levels are the result and not the cause of climate change?? Seems like you’ve been studying science at Trump University. And to Mr. G Clifford Williams, the only thing that is laughable, infuriating and shameful is you not looking at this study closely enough to realize that the rate of justifiable homicides are approximately three percent and do not come close to accounting for the overall higher homicide rates that states with weak gun laws experience.

    Public health science is here for a good reason: In my opinion, creating conditions that preserve health is by far the most important role of the government. The people who conduct these studies have as an overriding goal to produce evidence-based research that guides lawmakers and society to enact legislation that optimizes the health of populations. Their goal is not to preserve or destroy traditions, freedoms or cultural norms that many consider to be the fabric of American culture. Of course in any branch of science, one study only represents a piece of the pie of knowledge. Still, it needs to respected and used for further investigation. I applaud the fine work of Dr. Siegel, Dr. Galea and all the other faculty members who produce well controlled public health research … especially in a time when the health and safety of populations is under attack at the federal level (and at the state level in many cases).

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