Keeping and Bearing Arms on the Rise

It’s nice to see free people exercising their rights.

But it isn’t just what people say. They are clearly putting more stock in self-defense. Since 2007, the number of concealed-handgun permits has soared, from 4.6 million to 12.8 million. A new study by the Crime Prevention Research Center finds that a record 1.7 million permits have been issued in just the past year, a 15.4% increase.

Nationwide, 5.2% of adults have a permit.

But in five states, more than 10% of adults now have concealed-carry permits. In some counties around the United States, more than one in five adults are licensed to carry. In much of the country, someone among theater-goers or restaurant customers is likely to be legally carrying a permitted concealed handgun.

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These new permits seem to have worked well. Between 2007 and 2014, murder rates fell from 5.6 to 4.2 deaths per 100,000 (according to preliminary estimates). This 25% drop coincided with a 156% increase in the number of adults with permits. A similar drop occurred in other violent crimes.

The data have consistently shown that states with the biggest increases in permits also experienced the biggest reductions in murder rates. Dozens of academic papers have documented that allowing concealed carrying leads to a reduction in violent crime, and the Crime Prevention Research Center report shows that this pattern has continued over the last few years.

Permit holders are extremely law-abiding — even more law-abiding than the police, who are rarely convicted of crimes. The latest data from Texas and Florida continue to show that permit holders are convicted of misdemeanors and felonies at less than one-sixth the rate that police officers are.