Data Pertaining To Relationship Between Concealed-Carry Laws And Homicides Inconclusive

| by Will Hagle

Earlier this year, Illinois became the last state in the country to enact a concealed-carry gun law. Illinois had previously been the only state banning the concealed carrying of weapons, but the provision was overturned on Constitutional grounds by a federal appellate court. Due to an increase in homicides in the state, especially in the Chicago area, the case has received heavy criticism from gun control advocates. 

Second amendment supporters, however, have argued that individuals issued concealed-carry permits are typically not responsible for homicides, as they allow law-abiding citizens to obtain firearms to be used solely in self-defense. 

Due to a lack of comprehensive data, neither gun control advocates nor second amendment advocates can be proved right in their claims for or against concealed-carry. There has been some data collected on the topic, but much of it is either skewed or inconclusive.

The Violence Policy Center, an advocacy group against violence in America, has a page on its website dedicated to reporting the number of murders committed by those with concealed-carry permits. However the group itself admits that its data may be skewed, as there are numerous homicides that take place each day across the nation, and the involvement of a weapon owned by an individual with a concealed-carry permit is not always reported.

The VPC released the following data, which has been collected since 2007:  

“Currently, Concealed Carry Killers documents 381 incidents in 32 states resulting in 516 deaths. In 81 percent of the incidents (307) the concealed carry killer committed suicide (132), has already been convicted (131), perpetrated a murder-suicide (36), or was killed in the incident (eight). Of the 62 cases still pending, the vast majority (52) of concealed carry killers have been charged with criminal homicide, four were deemed incompetent to stand trial, and six incidents are still under investigation. An additional 12 incidents were fatal unintentional shootings involving the gun of the concealed handgun permit holder. At least 14 of the victims were law enforcement officers. Twenty-four of the incidents were mass shootings, resulting in the deaths of 107 victims.”

The VPC frames this data by arguing that, despite numerous claims that those with concealed-carry permits do not commit murders, there is evidence that they have, in fact, used their weapons to kill.

These numbers, however, contrast with the thousands of homicides that have occurred throughout the country, as well as the thousands of individuals with concealed-carry permits as well as the millions with other gun permits (that do not allow them to carry their weapons). 

Gun blog Extrano’s Alley takes similar data and frames it in a different manner than that of the VPC. The blog points to data from Texas, which claims that only six of the 585 murder and manslaughter convictions in Texas in 2011 were committed by individuals with concealed carry permits. That equals .01026% overall.

Of the reported murders in Texas (not only the convictions) in 2011, seven out of 1,144 were committed by those with concealed carry permits. The general population, therefore, was more likely to commit a homicide than an individual with a concealed carry permit.

Of course, neither of these sites account for the vast number of other permits that gun owners can possess, and whether or not those with other permits are likely to commit murder. It also doesn’t account for the breaks in data and the complex method of measurement, or the fact that each site frames the similar data in a position that supports their own argument. 

Regardless, the data does demonstrate that concealed-carry permit holders are less-likely to commit murders. However, it also shows that they still are committing some murders, and aren't entirely used for self-defense. Neither the VPC nor gun enthusiasts like the writer at Extrano Alley is correct, but neither is necessarily wrong, either.