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.