NY Times Proves Concealed Carry License Holders More Law-Abiding Than the Population. Unintentionally.

The New York Times published an article yesterday about concealed carry permit holders in the state of North Carolina, painting them as drunken drug addicts who used their guns irrationally in the heat of the moment when tempers flared. And while they bring up about four specific instances where that label might be applicable, they also attempt to turn the public’s opinion against concealed carry by listing the number of concealed carry permit holders who committed crimes. The problem with their presentation of these numbers is that while they sound like big numbers that, prima facie, appear to support the Times’ point, the reality is that those numbers unravel their entire argument. The New York Times is trying to cover up their lack of evidence by using deceptive language, and I’m here to give them the proper context.

The State of North Carolina is home to roughly 9.38 million people as of 2009. Of those residents only 228,072 hold a valid concealed carry permit according to the latest figures released by the North Carolina Department of Justice, figures which reflect the applications since December 1995 when the state began issuing permits. That equates to roughly 2.4% of the population that is legally allowed to carry a concealed firearm. As an interesting side note, those 228,072 permit holders come from an applicant pool of 399,268 which indicates that only about 57% of applications result in a permit.

In the year 2009 the FBI reported that murder and manslaughter (illegal acts where a person died) was committed at a rate of approximately 5.3 deaths for every 100,000 people in the state of North Carolina. This works out to about 497 deaths per year (using the population for 2009). Statistically the population of concealed carry permit holders should fall in line with this criminal death rate, and so we should expect no less than 12 criminal deaths in the year 2009 alone. However, the New York Times was only able to dredge up 10 such deaths (murders and manslaughter combined), and that was only accomplished by combining the last five years together. While we would expect 2% of the population to be responsible for 60 deaths over 5 years, in reality they are only responsible for 10.

According to the data, concealed carry permit holders in North Carolina are five times less likely to kill someone than the average citizen.

The next piece of data the New York Times pulls up is that 200 concealed carry permit holders were convicted of gun related crimes. The Times conveniently doesn’t report their sources for these statistics so we can’t be certain which crimes they’re talking about, but if we limit ourselves to just murder, robbery, rape and aggravated assault and compare the numbers reported by the North Carolina Department of Justice for 2009 we see that a similar trend emerges. According to the NCDOJ 13,335 violent crimes were reported which involved a firearm of some type for 2009. We can therefore expect concealed carry permit holders to be responsible for 324 (2% of the total) of these crimes, as they represent 2% of the population. Quite to the contrary, the Times reported that permit holders were only responsible for 200 such offenses over a 5 year period, which works out to roughly 50 per year. That’s assuming that those 200 supposed offenses were in those four categories, but in reality they could be anything “firearm related” that was illegal.

According to the data concealed carry permit holders are 5.48 times less likely to commit a violent crime with a firearm than the average citizen.

The last “fact” the Times brings up before diving into their hand picked stories of terror and woe is that 900 permit holders were convicted for drunken driving. While I’m opposed to the practice in general (as an EMT I often get to clean up the tragic mess) there’s nothing inherently firearms related about the activity. Nevertheless the Times feels it goes towards the credibility and responsibility of the permit holders so I suppose we have to indulge them.

In the year 2009, 56,311 people were arrested for drunken driving according to the NCDOJ. Statistically the concealed carry population should be responsible for 1,369 of those arrests for 2009 as they represent 2% of the total population of the state. However, according to the numbers reported by the Times only 900 were convicted, and that statistic was only possible by combining data over a five year period. Over the same period 2% of the population should be responsible for 6,845 drunk driving arrests. There’s something to be said about the difference between arrests and convictions but in this case the difference is so dramatic that I sincerely doubt any discrepancies would be significant.

According to the data concealed carry permit holders are 6.6 times less likely to be involved with drunk driving than the average citizen.

So essentially, every single statistic the New York Times threw at us to convince us that concealed carry permit holders are horrible people has in fact proven that they are more responsible citizens than the average North Carolinian. Keep in mind that all this analysis is based on the Times’ numbers which they stated without referencing any sources, leaving us to take their word for their validity and leaving us no ability to double check their work. In addition the crime rate in North Carolina has been on the decline, meaning that while I based my numbers on the lower 2009 rate the Times was able to pull their data from when the crime was a little higher. So while we should see the actual numbers exceeding the expected numbers they in fact do quite the opposite.

The comments have since been closed due to an overwhelming cry of “bullshit” on the part of intelligent readers, but there’s a comment at the bottom of the New York Times article among the 505 others that pretty much sums up how I feel about their piece, written by “F” in North Carolina.

There are always bad apples in the group as we all know. Thanks for basing the story around N.C. and creating unneeded attention to a process that has worked for YEARS. Cutting edge “Times”… Wonder why there wasn’t any mention of the cases of lives SAVED by CCW’ers and how other states rank in comparison, along with those who have much looser laws? Very sloppy story in my opinion since there was very little content, no statistics to back it, and very loose references and their details. I have seen better reporting in high school publications. Doubt this comment will get published but to those who read it it’s amazing how poor quality this story was written and what it lacked.

You got one thing wrong, F — if they were in high school their math teachers wouldn’t let them get away with this kind of shoddy statistics work.

avatar

About Nick Leghorn

Nick Leghorn is a gun nerd living and working in San Antonio, Texas. In his free time, he's a competition shooter (USPSA, 3-gun and NRA High Power), aspiring pilot, and enjoys mixing statistics and science with firearms. Now on sale: Getting Started with Firearms by yours truly!

40 Responses to NY Times Proves Concealed Carry License Holders More Law-Abiding Than the Population. Unintentionally.

  1. avatarM_in_NJ says:

    One of the major shortcomings of public discourse in the US is the lack of basic math skills in the general public. The ratio analysis you’ve provided is logical and statistically sound. I’m not intending this as an insult but ratios are covered in the 5th grade. If our media would just apply 8th grade skills just think how much less irrational the culture wars would be.

  2. avataryakima2k says:

    Great work, Nick.

  3. Nick,

    Thanks for the support and the statistical analysis. Why is it the Times continues to get away with such shoddy reporting? I’m amazed people still read the rag.

    • avatarRalph says:

      I’m amazed people still read the rag.

      They don’t. The Times is firing staff, cutting payroll, eliminating pensions etc. just to stay alive so that it can continue to line birdcages all over America.

      • avatarIdahoPete says:

        I am forced to point out an error in your comment: “… so that it can continue to line birdcages all over America.”

        Actually, the NYTimes is only able to line birdcages in the wealthy urban apartment/condo enclaves of New Yawk City, Washington DC, and a few other high-crime liberal urban areas. Their paid circulation, not counting libraries, schools, colleges and other taxpayer-financed subscribers, is probably less than the total number of concealed carry permit holders in North Carolina.

        A minor point, but I wouldn’t want to see you inadvertently insult the many parakeet owners in bedrock America who line their birdcages with papers that did not originate in NYC.

      • avatarscott says:

        Also, the ny slimes is doing so badly that they just had to sell their NYT Regional Media Group, which has 16 local papers, for $143million. One of them is my local paper, the Ledger, in central Florida. I’m hoping that will improve the quality of the paper………. I’m relatively certain that the new owners could not possibly do worse!!!!!!

  4. avatarjkp says:

    My favorite part of the NYT story was this line:

    “In addition, nearly 900 permit holders were convicted of drunken driving, a potentially volatile circumstance given the link between drinking and violence.”

    What? Were they carrying a weapon while driving drunk? Were they involved in a crime of violence while doing the same? This is a bullshit appeal to emotion if I ever saw one.

    • avatarscott says:

      Gotta love the ignorance of that kind of statement. I got a DUI in CA almost ten years ago. Part of the punishment was to go to a DUI school for one night a week for something like 6 months. At one of the classes they had a guest speaker there to talk about drinking and spousal abuse. This imbecile insisted that if you drink then it is only a matter of time before you start beating your significant other. I have never done anything violent in my ENTIRE LIFE but this women dismissed that out of hand and said it would happen NO MATTER WHAT. Same concept…….an ignorant liberal telling me what I would do even though it was completely contrary to the entire history of my life. Even if someone were carrying while driving drunk, if you get pulled over, surrender your weapon, and take the arrest quietly IT IS A NON-ISSUE!!!
      Liberalism is a mental disorder that apparently has no cure yet!!!!!!!

      • avatarMichael C says:

        Liberalism is just another form of stupidity, the real problem with it is the Liberals think they know better than everyone else and that things are a certain way because they say it’s so.

      • avatarMichael C says:

        Liberalism is just another form of stupidity, the real problem with it is the Liberals think they know better than everyone else and that things are a certain way because they say it’s so. And we all know you can’t cure stupid.

  5. avatarGS650G says:

    The NYT likes to conjure up images of drunken rednecks shooting from their pickup trucks at deer around 3 AM on a Friday night as justification for not allowing anyone to carry a gun. Those in the Hamptons reading such stories in their slippers are shaking their heads at how the savages down south live. The elite in the NYT newsroom are far more educated and worldly than the rest of us and so are in a position to influence and direct policy in this manner. In other words if you can’t dazzle them with brilliance baffle them with bullshit.

  6. avatarHAVE GUN says:

    I read that NYT article yesterday and could see they were just throwing up numbers to make things look bad.

    Thanks for putting that in perspective Nick.

  7. avatarScott says:

    What’s the New York Times? Is that one of those ‘newspaper’ things that people used to read but now only buy for the ads and sudoku?

  8. avatarJ. Davis says:

    Great article…solid research.
    I just sent a letter to the editor of the New York Times explaining that Michael Luo is reporting false, misleading “facts” and that Nick Leghorn dissected these untruths and revealed the actual facts and truths.
    Then I included a link to this story and hopefully the NYT editor reads it.
    We’ll see.

  9. avatarJoe Grine says:

    Thanks for putting the numbers in perspective, Nick. Good job. Sound like a “letter to the editor” is in order.

    BTW, I wonder how many New York Times writers have gotten a DUI.

    • avatarGS650G says:

      Or other criminal behavior. Do we really want to trust convicted persons with something as critical as reporting the news? I bet background checks on the newsroom would make for interesting reading.

  10. avatarseabiscuit says:

    From the article: “Gun advocates are quick to cite anecdotes of permit holders who stopped crimes with their guns. It is virtually impossible, however, to track these episodes in a systematic way. By contrast, crimes committed by permit holders can be.”

    The article admitted the data is biased because successful DGUs are underreported… then went on to support the bias and only report crimes by permit holders.

  11. avatarTom says:

    Most CCW people are usually fairly responsible, and sometimes more so than the LEOs.

  12. avatarBLAMMO says:

    I read the article yesterday when it was first published. I found it so flawed and dubious in so many ways, I don’t have the energy to disect them. But this sums it up:

    Gun advocates are quick to cite anecdotes of permit holders who stopped crimes with their guns. It is virtually impossible, however, to track these episodes in a systematic way. By contrast, crimes committed by permit holders can be. …

    He then goes on to cite nothing BUT anecdotes of licensed gun owners who commit crimes, in addition to the anecdote that starts off the article.

  13. avatarNC CCW Permittee says:

    Thanks to Mr. Leghorn and everyone here for supporting CCW and pointing out the BS in Michael Luo’s editorial (his is not an investigative news article regardless of the NYT’s labeling). Luo is a journalistic (using that term loosely) hack, IMO, with an ax to grind and a prominent “newspaper” in which to publish. His opinions and articles should be ignored. Also, this tidbit may prove his difficulties with statistics: from Michael Luo’ Facebook page, 2/25/11,
    “This is what I’ve spent the last few weeks thrashing through. Made me wish I had taken a stats class in college.” http://www.facebook.com/pages/Michael-Luo/114256965259482

  14. avatarSilver says:

    The NYT is a pathetic propaganda rag, nothing more.

    I was at the dentist a week ago and flipping through the Readers Digest in the waiting room, and saw an interview with the comrade-in-chief of the NYT. The last question was “If you had one wish, what would it be?” and the narcissistic tyrant-wannabe answered, “For everyone in the world to get their news from the NY Times.” Keep dreaming the dream, Big Sister.

  15. avatarmarcella says:

    Thanks for blowing a hole through the biased reporting of the NYT.

  16. Vex ferments the humors, casts them into their meet channels, throws off redundancies, and helps species in those secretive distributions, without which the body cannot subsist in its vigor, nor the typification dissimulate with cheerfulness.

  17. avatarWill says:

    Why did the NYT pick NC for it’s study? Why not state of NY or NYC ?

  18. Thanks for the feedback

  19. Pingback: Schooled | Gun Rights Magazine

  20. As for me it is a really good point of view. I meet people who rather say what they suppose others want to hear. Good and well written! I will come back to your site for sure!

  21. City of Melbourne 67% (one,020 of one,520) Thought th is was Way Cool .. yep, Thanks alot for th is amazing report.

  22. avatarTom Harvey says:

    The appropriate question is whether the same people would be more or less law abiding, if they didn’t have the guns. The good thing about them being law abiding for the most part is they could buy the insurance needed to protect the people that accidentally get shot for a reasonable price.

  23. Pingback: NY Times Proves Concealed Carry License Holders More Law-Abiding Than the Population, Unintentionally. | Range HotRange Hot

  24. Pingback: Episode 237 – Anthony Colandro and Kathy Perkins | The Polite Society Podcast

  25. Pingback: California shooting sparks debate - Page 11 - Christian Forums

Leave a Reply

Please use your real name instead of you company name or keyword spam.