Landmark Study Finds Concealed Carry Does NOT Increase Violent Crime

Robert B. Young, M.D. with DRGO, via YouTube

On October 22, Doctors for Responsible Gun Ownership (DRGO) presented new concealed carry-related research undertaken by Dr. Mark Hamill to the Congress of the American College of Surgeons. The key takeaway from this research is that relaxing concealed carry laws has no effect on violent crime rates.

This paper, which was well received and is now available online (paywalled), is an important step toward clarifying contradictory findings in the existing research literature. Past research focused largely on concealed carriers as a group or on the number of concealed carry licenses among the population. However, increased interest in concealed carry is very possibly a response to rising crime rates, not a cause. For this reason, this DGRO-affiliated study measured the effects (or lack thereof) of legislation only, not the number of permits issued or the number of gun owners in the population.

Using data from a 30-year period (1986-2015), during which many U.S. states changed their concealed carry policies in favor of greater leniency, the researchers designed a Carry Restriction Scale that incorporated “no carry,” “may issue,” “shall issue,” and “unrestricted carry.” This allowed the leniency of concealed carry legislation to be meaningfully understood as a variable in their statistical analysis. Then, for good measure, they created a second, binary variable that also measured restrictiveness of concealed carry laws.

For each state and year during that 30-year period, the researchers amassed data on 14 different variables, including the Carry Restriction Scale variable. Among those, they included not only data on various violent crimes (rape, aggravated assault, homicide, etc.) but also data on unemployment and poverty rates, which are known to influence crime. Thanks to this dynamic approach, they were able to actually isolate the variable they were interested in.

Finally, applying a regression analysis that involved over 21,420 discrete data points and two different measures of concealed carry leniency, the researchers confidently confirmed their hypothesis: There is no association between state-level concealed carry laws and the rate of ANY violent crime.

By diligently detailing the best statistical methodology for this data set (and explicitly calling out potential pitfalls for future analysts to avoid), the researchers also blazed a trail for future research. In an area of study rife with political agendas, sloppy methodology, and contradictory findings, this study is an outstanding example of real science at work.

comments

  1. avatar Michael Buley says:

    John Lott did these studies years ago, didn’t he? This isn’t news — or am I missing something? The obvious logic is that the more good guys carry — and the more the bad guys know that the good guys may be carrying — the less likely the bad guy is to attack someone with a gun or otherwise.

    An armed society, as the saying goes, is a polite society.

    1. avatar Sam I Am says:

      “The obvious logic is that the more good guys carry — and the more the bad guys know that the good guys may be carrying — the less likely the bad guy is to attack someone with a gun or otherwise. ”

      Which is precisely what the research could not determine (“prove”); the deterrent effect of concealed carry of firearms.

      To be an effective deterrent, concealed carry must be known to a widespread number of potential attackers/criminals. This means not only knowledge of the permitting legislation, but that the number is growing, or has grown, to a significant majority of the population. Since most “bad guys” cannot be counted on to be literate, much less informed, getting knowledge of a high likelihood that an attacker/criminal will face an armed victim presents a real challenge.

      You can only successfully deter an attacker if the attacker is fully aware of your defensive capability, and your determination to use it (see the history of “the cold war” – where only direct attack between the US and USSR was deterred).

      1. avatar LarryinTX says:

        “Say, where’s Joe?” “Shot and in jail.” “Well, where’s Bill?” “Shot dead.” “How about Tom?” “Went to work at Burger King, said it’s safer.” The word will get around.

        1. avatar Sam I Am says:

          “The word will get around.”

          Oh that it would. Yet, the number of concealed carriers has grown rapidly the last few years, and Lott tells us that there are up to 2 million defensive gun used per year. One would think that the word has had time to “get around”, and produce a marked reduction in those 2 million DGUs.

          It would seem the proper measure of the effectiveness of hundreds of millions of guns at hand would be the undeniable reduction in DGUs, not an effect on over all crime (which has too many components).

        2. avatar Russel A Helmers says:

          You know you can’t be that thoughtful if you try to overwhelm with just plain words. Common sense says that crime will/has gone down in areas where Conceal Carry is legal but can and will go up in areas that it’s not. Also because of that idea if it goes down in one area of our country and up in others it can still balance out.

        3. avatar ropingdown says:

          That seems to have worked in my suburban neighborhood. Over the last ten years there have only been two attempted burglaries within a half mile. In both cases the educated and affluent homeowners fired a shot, which quickly sent the perpetrators back into the city. They apparently told their friends that better targets should be found elsewhere. For four years we’ve no repeats. It’s very peaceful in the neighborhood.

      2. avatar Rusty Chains says:

        LarryinTX is dead on. Bad guys hear it at midnight basket ball, at the bar, from their weed supplier, from the relatives of DRT former bad guys, from the barely able to walk bad guy who use to jack cars.

        Simple fact, as Stacy Abrams so eloquently put it “people get shot in the streets because some bigot decided he got to stand his ground.” It is getting positively dangerous for her thug constituents to pursue their normal line of work, and that is why she is the Democrat gubernatorial candidate here in Georgia.

        1. avatar Sam I Am says:

          Wish it were as you describe.

          Please see my note regarding the number of DGUs per year.

        2. avatar Ing says:

          I think you’re putting too much stock in that DGU number, Sam. It’s only a rough estimate. There could be a significant decrease (or increase) in the actual number, and we’d never know it because the data isn’t reliable enough to give a precise picture.

        3. avatar Sam I Am says:

          “I think you’re putting too much stock in that DGU number, Sam.”

          Actually, I put no credence in DGU reports, or alleged reports, or supposed DGU reports. My position is purely one of challenging conclusions based on speculation, extrapolation, projection; as is the same with “manmade climate change”. But I do have first hand experience with deterring attack (which absolutely is not the same as a response to attack – however, a response that leaves the attacker unable to demonstrate a pulse does deter that attacker from future attacks).

          If one believes in the ~2 million annual DGUs, unless they all happened in the same places, over and over, the deterrent effect should, over a number of years, be directly measured as either a drop in armed attacks, a rise in armed attacks, no difference in armed attacks. We simply do not have correlation. Trying to justify owning a gun, carrying a gun, using a gun based on some speculated crime deterrent effect is not a convincing ploy, except as a talking point among gun owners. Anti-gunners are not moved by unprovable claims of deterring deadly attacks.

          Besides, talking about deterrent effect puts us in the position of arguing “need” for a gun.

      3. avatar Neil says:

        To “prove” yes you’re correct. But you can’t “Prove” there is a God” Or you can’t “Prove” the sun will come up tomorrow morning either…. but there is a preponderance of the evidence. Just go ask your neighbors and friends or go to the local jail. Very few people break into houses when people are home. Even fewer people get mugged if they don’t make themselves an easy target…. Why is that?

        1. avatar Sam I Am says:

          “To “prove” yes you’re correct. But you can’t “Prove” there is a God” Or you can’t “Prove” the sun will come up tomorrow morning either…. but there is a preponderance of the evidence. ”

          If we want to pronounce that correlation equals causation, we must also accept the same from the anti-gun mafia.

      4. avatar Carman says:

        Sam I Am, a person/criminal being illiterate does not automatically mean that they will be unaware that carry laws are changing or that in turn more citizens are carrying. Surely you’ve heard that we through young men in prison for drug possession or stealing, ect. so that they can learn to be smarter/more proficient criminals.

        1. avatar Sam I Am says:

          I like your last sentence.

          My caution is that POTG should not make the mistake of touting correlation with causation. We trash liberals and gun grabbers (sorry for repeating myself) for making correlation/causation claims. I don’t want us to offer them a puffball to smack back at us.

      5. avatar Tom Seagraves says:

        The attacker will be fuller aware of your deterrent as soon as you deploy it. Having no deterrent is not a very good option.

        1. avatar Sam I Am says:

          “The attacker will be fuller aware of your deterrent as soon as you deploy it. Having no deterrent is not a very good option.”

          You may have “deterrent”* and “response” confused. A concealed firearm is a deterrent if a potential attacker fears you may have a concealed gun, and thus declines to initiate the attack. To actually pull your gun for use, you are responding to an attack because the attacker did not believe your were likely to be armed (as the vast majority of people are not), and was certain you wouldn’t use a gun if you had one.

          *If one uses a gun to fully eliminate the attacker, that fact does represent deterrence in the sense the attacker is forever deterred from initiating another attack.

    2. avatar frank speak says:

      why is this surprising?…you’re talking about a group of people who play by the rules and have no criminal intent…seems like a wasted effort…

    3. avatar Chan Bailey says:

      Lott did do the same thing. Good to see another worthwhile study back him up.

    4. avatar Grave Gauze says:

      John Lott is a fraud. I’m pro-gun, but Mr. Lott obviously pulls things out of his ass.

      1. avatar Excedrine says:

        Except that he isn’t, and he doesn’t. That is, unless you have some actual proof for us. I’ll wait.

  2. avatar MeRp says:

    Too bad it (the actual study) is behind a paywall, otherwise it could be handy to share.

    1. avatar Pg2 says:

      Agree. WTF.

    2. avatar LKB says:

      Maybe Dan can write the authors and ask them for a copy and permission to host it here. (Unless the authors have assigned their copyrights to the publishing journal or otherwise contracted not to publish it elsewhere, then they can authorize that. It’s not like scholarly journals pay authors for their articles . . . .)

      1. avatar Sam I Am says:

        “It’s not like scholarly journals pay authors for their articles . . . .)”

        But charging for access to the articles is how scholarly journals earn their keep.

  3. avatar C.S. says:

    One can also look at the raw data of crimes committed by ccl holders to easily reach the same conclusion. At the point where ccl holders are less likely to commit crimes than actual leos, the progressives should have pulled up their pants.

    1. avatar Mark N. says:

      Bingo. So far, though, afaik, the studies demonstrating this point are limited to a few states, Florida among them.

      1. avatar Ian in Transit says:

        I have seen the reports on VA and TX. Do you have a link to the FL data handy to share?

      2. avatar C.S. says:

        Heh, don’t hold your breath. I used to browse the chicago pd annual crime report. It seems someone didn’t like what it said so they stopped publicizing it.

  4. avatar TheUnspoken says:

    Why the American college of surgeons is doing a study like this is silly.

    Or not, studies get grants and money and stuff for your researchers to do, status as published, news cycle blip, chance to influence policy. I mean they are only doing it for the children.

    Wait, so concealed carriers don’t buy legal guns, get a NICs check, take some classes, pay lots of money, apply for license with photo or fingerprint, more background checks, more money, wait…. And then once in possession of that sweet license, turn to a life of crime?

    I thought anyone with a legal gun is just walking around, teetering on the brink from either robbing a bank or murdering someone for fun. That is the reason they can’t carry in sensitive locations like schools, post offices, pharmacies, football stadiums, voting, etc depending on the state or city. I mean most concealed carriers walk around the grocery store nicely but as soon as they set foot in a school, they just want to kill kill kill.

    1. avatar Danny L Griffin says:

      as soon as they set foot in a school, they just want to kill kill kill.

      A few years ago Ann Arbor, MI held a school board meeting where guns in schools was the main topic. Lots of public input, mostly from the ultra liberals who inhabit Ann Arbor. One parent said that a good guy with a gun was someone who just hadn’t murdered anyone yet. Really.

      1. avatar LarryinTX says:

        As far as it goes, that *is* true!

        1. avatar CarlosT says:

          And of course, the same thing applies to drivers who haven’t run over any pedestrians yet, mothers who haven’t drowned their children yet, etc., etc., etc.

        2. avatar Geoff "Mess with the bull, get the horns" PR says:

          “…mothers who haven’t drowned their children yet, …”

          The little bastards were asking for it…

          *snicker* 😉

      2. avatar frank speak says:

        “all gunowners are bad guys..or potential bad guys”…..this is the mindset you’re dealing with…whether they want to admit it or not…debate with these people is pointless…

    2. avatar Don says:

      The American College of Surgeons did not do the study, they published the journal in which it was published.

    3. The value of this study is in who did it and who it was presented too. Yes, John Lott has done similar work, and yes it reached similar conclusions – but this study was done by doctors and presented to doctors. It is therefore much more likely to be read by doctors.

    4. avatar Carman Coker says:

      You said it buddy 🙂 go thru all the trouble and expense to lawfully carry so you can go out and rob and steal. Takes a real dummy to believe that’s what’s going on.

  5. avatar Stoic says:

    The summary info on the page linked has all you should need for quoting. Specifically “Results
    During the study period, all states moved to adopt some form of concealed-carry legislation, with a trend toward less restrictive legislation. After adjusting for state and year, there was no significant association between shifts from restrictive to nonrestrictive carry legislation on violent crime and public health indicators. Adjusting further for poverty and unemployment did not significantly influence the results.”

    To which those of us in the community would reply – Well, Duh! – but those of a more liberal bent need to read facts in a journal in order to believe them.

    1. avatar Michael Buley says:

      The real problem is, always will be, that the left doesn’t care about facts. They want us disarmed, they control the media, and will continue to demonize guns, and legal gun owners. The left has hypnotized the masses into the mantra that ‘Guns are bad, must eliminate guns, must do it for the children, we hate gun violence’ …

      1. avatar Mark N. says:

        To wit: Don’t expect this to be reported by the mass media. After all, “everyone knows” that “more guns equals more gun crime.” (There are at least a half a dozen “experts” who will say so.)

        1. avatar Michael Buley says:

          You’re right, Mark. And if it were reported? It would be a small article somewhere, tucked way back there, at the bottom. And some comment added from an ‘expert’ who said ‘there are other studies that contradict these findings.’

          When the left controls communication to the masses — and there is no doubt they do; MSM is a communist propaganda arm — it’s only a matter of time, and probably not that much, when ‘the masses’ are ‘demanding’ confiscation. Laws and facts are simply irrelevant to the left.

          What the right fails to understand is that screeching from the high heavens, passionately, loudly, over and over again, has power. In the wrong hands, in defective brains such as this woman’s, these people are dangerous. Sometimes the right stays too stoic and calm and factual. Facts don’t win this fight. Emotions do. And the left are masters at manipulating the emotions of the masses.

          However … we have might on our side, if 100+ million gun owners, several hundred million weapons, and who knows how many billions of rounds of ammo, count for something. And they must, because we still have our guns.

      2. avatar little horn says:

        and we can see how poor of a job they have done too. record guns sales for how many years now??? this is a perfect example of when people are spoon fed by the government/media its always directly contradicts what they learn on their own by research and experience.

    2. avatar Hirider says:

      Well, Duh! – but those of a more liberal bent don’t usually read any facts in a journal. They simply listen to their peers.

  6. avatar Kahlil says:

    What if they find…omg…that it reduces crime? What will they say then???

    1. avatar Michael Buley says:

      Kahlil, we can rest assured that media / politicians will make sure this report is buried entirely, dismissed, countered, ridiculed. Facts have no effect on communists.

  7. avatar little horn says:

    what kind of moron would think that it does? oh yeah, liberals.

  8. avatar Michael says:

    They won’t believe anything what contradicts the lessons taught in the masters schools, they know how to read, they no longer know how to think. -30-

  9. avatar Stateisevil says:

    The truth is no defense

  10. avatar John J. McCarthy, Jr. says:

    I knew this.

  11. avatar Excedrine says:

    Paid for the .PDF and will be reading it when and as I can.

  12. avatar ll says:

    “However, increased interest in concealed carry is very possibly a response to rising crime rates, not a cause“

    What rising crime rates?

  13. avatar SoBe says:

    To take this a step further, I just listened to some wonderful oral arguments pro open carry in a Florida appeals court (BTW the attorneys are petitioning the SCOTUS), that as someone here mentioned, if the bad guys know one is carrying, they will be less likely to carry out their nefarious plans, thus concealed carry is good (QED per this study) but open carry is better at deterring crime since the bad guys will have not doubt about it and one is less likely to be at risk of brandishing. I am just surprised the ACS allowed this presentation.

    1. avatar Michael Buley says:

      I would love to see open carry nationwide.

      I’m in Washington state, and it is an open carry state. However … everyone discourages open carry. ‘People will get frightened … call the cops on you …’ etc. I’ve only seen one instance of open carry, and that was outside a gun store.

      The visible presence of guns would obviously deter someone with ill intent. If you KNOW there are guns on the good guys, you go elsewhere. The logical is irrefutable. But logic is irrelevant to communists — and we are dealing with communists, not ‘Democrats.’

      Bad guys are stupid by definition. But not that stupid to go into a place where you’re outnumbered and outgunned. Not generally anyway. And if they are that stupid? Then quick enough, they will no longer be among the living.

      I would love to see open carry wherever I go. I would love to open carry. I don’t, though. I carry outside, but it’s concealed by shirt and jacket. Here in the Seattle area, anonymous citizens have been given the power to ‘report’ someone as a threat, and if you are that ‘threat’ to someone, you can have all weapons confiscated. Of course, you have to go to court to get your guns back. A single phone call can totally f**k a law-abiding citizen because someone is ‘threatened’ — or just doesn’t like you.

      All of this isn’t going to end peacefully. The only thing communists want is power, and the only thing that will defeat them is power. Force. They will not relent, ever.

      1. avatar Danny L Griffin says:

        Michael, I don’t mean to be too harsh, but you do realize that you are part of the problem, right? You want to see more open carry, but you won’t do it yourself. Try it. You’ll feel nervous at first, but after a while it’ll become second nature. You will get over your trepidation quickly when you realize that most people don’t notice and most people don’t care.

        One thing you may want to carry, at least as a new OCer, is a digital voice recorder. Turn it on whenever you go into a store or you get pulled over for a traffic violation or whatever. They are only about 1″ x 4″. Carry in your shirt pocket or wear on a lanyard around your neck under your shirt. That may make you feel better. I wore one religiously when I first began OCing eight or nine years ago. I’ve never needed any of the audio I recorded but I appreciated the ability to record any potential bad interaction with the police or whatever. Turns out I’ve never had one single bad interaction with the public, police, or university police in nine years. It may happen one day, but so far never has. I live in Michigan.

        1. avatar Michael Buley says:

          Danny, I appreciate your note. I thought the same thing as I was writing what I wrote. If we all live in fear of ‘getting in trouble’ even while we’re obeying the law, we are part of the problem. And ‘we’ starts with me. I tend to go against the grain on a lot of stuff, and when someone says ‘oh don’t do that’ … lol … well, just a nudge in that direction sometimes is all I need. Your note is the nudge. It will stir waters, I know. I live in the very liberal Pacific NW. Odds are someone will call a cop on me at some point. Who knows where that leads? I will take your advice on the recorder; I have one of those on a shelf I’d forgotten about.

          I do recall one other time seeing an open carry — sort of. Took an old neighbor shopping to get groceries. I see a guy with a gun — inside the waist band, but clearly visible. And I thought, right on.

          I appreciate the note, Danny.

          One more thing. I carry on both sides. Glock 23 on the left, Ruger LCR on the right. A fellow shared a story with me a few months ago that prompted me to start doing carrying both sides, and it feels very comfortable. Should that make any difference in open carry? Carry one open, conceal the other? Is showing two guns overkill, so to speak? I’d appreciate your thoughts on that, Danny.

          Thanks again.

        2. avatar Danny L Griffin says:

          I only know of one person who OCs two pistols. He lives in Detroit. LOL. He carries them at 3 and 6 o’clock. I do have one left hand holster in case I want to OC two pistols LH/RH, but it is more for some special occasion, not daily. When I carry a backup I either pocket carry in a holster or ankle carry. So to answer your question, I do not OC two, only one. Maybe I should wear my LH holster more often. The balance does feel good.

      2. avatar frank speak says:

        have to lay at least some of the blame for these “reg flag” laws on trump….”seize the guns first..worry about due process later”…feinswine almost peed her pants when she heard him say that..

        1. avatar Michael Buley says:

          I think he’s backtracked on that. But the fact is, the red flag laws are ‘discretionary.’ As are many parts of the Patriot Act, Military Commissions Act, etc. That’s the risk of open carry — or at least the risk I have to say I fear — that someone decides I’m a risk, and it goes from there.

          Hell, I have a sister who is very anti-gun. She’s basically instructed her husband to NOT discuss politics and guns with me — he’s 67 years old! She knows my basic political views on some things, not necessarily politically correct, and certainly the antithesis of the communist direction of the Democratic Party. it’s crossed my mind that there might be a remote chance that a ‘loving and concerned family member’ would report me to ‘protect me from myself’ …

          But as Danny pointed out, we’re part of the problem if we don’t even exercise our actual rights out of fear — and it may be well-founded fear. We could end up with troubles as a result. But if we live in fear, we get the results of that.

          Open to other thoughts on this. It’s a valuable discussion, and I appreciate any suggestions.

  14. avatar Bierce Ambrose says:

    Interesting. What’s the CDC say about this data?

    Oh wait, that might take a while to find out.

  15. avatar Gliderguy says:

    This is the data we need for those who start their arguments for gun control with “If it saves even one life…” Well ma’am, this 20,000 data point study with control groups and corrected for poverty says it just won’t.

  16. One correction: This study was not done by DRGO, but the lead author Dr. Mark Hamill is a DRGO member (and proud we are of that!).
    What is important besides the conclusions (which are not new, as has been mentioned) is that the study is being published in a mainstream medical journal (JACS, since Dr. Hamill is a surgeon). These usually publish anti-gun “research” that does not match the rigor of Dr. Hamill’s; I know, because we have critiqued many, and I was a reviewer for JACS on Dr. Hamill’s.

  17. avatar Jon says:

    So disarming good folks would make them easier targets. Gee who would have guess.

  18. avatar Green Mtn. Boy says:

    Well No Duh,Vermonts been doing that way since 1791. VERMONT HAS ALWAYS BEEN THE CONSTITUTIONAL CARRY STATE,even before it became a state.

  19. avatar IdahoPete says:

    “By diligently detailing the best statistical methodology for this data set (and explicitly calling out potential pitfalls for future analysts to avoid), the researchers also blazed a trail for future research.” Wait a minute, you failed to mention whether or not there was a “scientific community consensus” involved in this study! It appears that they just used that outdated “scientific method” stuff, and did not get a vote from people with an anti-gun agenda to push! I am SHOCKED! And what about the increase in Global Wormening caused by the increased manufacture of all those eeeevil guns?

    1. avatar Michael Buley says:

      Thanks for the article, Dan. Reading it now.

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