Personal Freedoms

published : 2023-11-30

Decline in Concealed Carry Permits Doesn't Tell the Whole Story

Is the number of Americans carrying concealed firearms actually increasing?

A photo of a person demonstrating proper concealed carry techniques, taken with a Canon EOS 5D Mark IV.

A recent study examining gun data has revealed an interesting trend in concealed carry permits in the United States.

According to the study, while there has been a slight decrease in the number of concealed carry permits this year, it is likely that the number of Americans carrying a concealed firearm has actually increased.

This seemingly contradictory finding can be attributed to the fact that more than half of U.S. states have enacted laws that do not require eligible residents to obtain a concealed carry permit.

These states, often referred to as constitutional carry states, allow legal residents to carry a concealed firearm without a permit from the government.

As of this year, 27 states have adopted constitutional carry laws or have been tasked with creating one if not provided.

In these constitutional carry states, there was a drop in the number of concealed carry permits.

However, in the remaining states, there was an increase in the number of permits issued.

So, while the decline in concealed carry permits may seem concerning at first glance, it does not tell the whole story.

The study, conducted by the Crime Prevention Research Center (CPRC), found a 0.5% decrease in concealed carry holders across the U.S. this year.

It's important to note that the study relied on concealed carry permit data rather than gun ownership surveys, which can be unreliable if gun owners are unwilling to share their personal information.

A photo of a diverse group of individuals participating in a concealed carry training session, taken with a Nikon D850.

Currently, there are 21,846,557 active concealed carry permits in the U.S., down slightly from 22 million in 2022.

Out of the U.S. adult population, 8.4% hold concealed carry permits, which increases to 10.1% when excluding states with strict gun laws like New York and California.

In certain states, such as Oregon and Michigan, more than 10% of the adult population holds a concealed carry permit.

Florida has issued the most concealed carry permits, followed by Texas and Pennsylvania.

Interestingly, the study also found that the decrease in concealed carry permits was mainly observed in constitutional carry states.

While more people in these states are legally carrying firearms, the number of permits declined gradually.

The study suggests that the decline can be attributed to the fact that obtaining a concealed carry permit can be an expensive endeavor in some states.

For example, cities like Chicago or states like California require individuals to spend hundreds of dollars on permits and gun safety training.

In states where permits and their costs have been eliminated, more people are inclined to purchase a handgun and concealed carry.

This has led to a change in the demographic of permit holders, with a lot more permits being issued in heavily minority and poor zip codes.

A photo of a woman from a minority community confidently practicing her marksmanship at a shooting range, taken with a Sony Alpha A7 III.

The study also highlighted a surge in women and minority Americans obtaining concealed carry permits.

Over the last 10 years, the growth rate for permits has been 111% faster for women than men.

Moreover, statistics from states like Texas, Oklahoma, and North Carolina show a significant increase in permits issued to minorities compared to whites.

The increase in concealed carry permits has sparked debates regarding the impact on crime rates.

John Lott, the founder and president of the CPRC, argued that as more Americans arm themselves, crime is likely to decrease.

Lott believes that criminals will think twice about victimizing people if there is a higher risk of encountering an armed citizen.

However, for this approach to effectively reduce crime, law-abiding residents of high-crime areas would need to carry concealed firearms.

Lott emphasized that individuals who are most likely to benefit from concealed carry are poor Blacks living in high-crime urban areas.

While the decline in concealed carry permits may not be the whole story, it does shed light on the changing landscape of firearm ownership and self-defense in the United States.