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In 1994, when Arizona started its shall issue concealed carry weapon (CCW) program, there was considerable interest in how many and what types of homicides would result from the new law. I started teaching classes for the Arizona CCW permit when it went into effect and I immediately noticed that my students were well above average in attitude, responsibility, and civility.  They always pitched in to assist in setting up where necessary, and their personal checks have always been good. When the first crime statistics became available, I eagerly digested the information. One person with a CCW permit had committed a homicide, although not with a concealed weapon. It was a domestic situation and the perpetrator was a retired police officer. The question arose, how often do police officers commit homicides compared to concealed carry permit holders? Of the two, which is more common? . . .

The dedicated civilian disarmers at the Violence Policy Center (VPC) love to portray concealed carriers as the source of all violent crime. But it my or may not surprise you to find out that a person is three times safer with a concealed carry permit holder than they are with a police officer.

Attempting to determine how the homicide rate of people with CCW permits compares to that of police officers isn’t an easy task. There are plenty of sources that show that people with CCW permits are far more law abiding than the general population. One would like to believe that the same is true for police officers, but data is much harder to obtain for them. Agencies that employ sworn officers don’t like to tarnish their own names with the misdeeds of other officers, and while a few states that track crimes committed by CCW permit holders, I don’t know of any government database of crimes committed by peace officers.

The crime with the best reporting data is homicides. It’s always a significant event that is difficult to ignore since there’s is usually a body.  And the media usually report all the homicides they learn of.

I found two sources of data that seem roughly comparable: The VPC attempts to track all homicides committed by CCW permit holders.  The data is incomplete insofar as it relies on publicly reported stories, but it gives us a useful figure. It doesn’t seem likely that too many reported stories are missed.

For police-involved homicides, I used a web site that tracks domestic homicides committed by police officers, and another that does the same for police-involved domestic violence. The stats are comparable to the VPC data in that they rely on publicly reported stories. Data was available for complete years from 2008 – 2011 for a comparison of the two groups.

Florida was chosen to represent CCW permit holders because accurate numbers of permits were obtainable from the Florida Department of Agriculture. Florida has the highest total of CCW permits of all the states and the number of resident concealed carry permits in Florida is reasonably close to the number of sworn state and local peace officers in the U.S.

The VPC says that Florida tops the nation in killings by people with concealed carry permits. They claim 27 total killings that are unjustified homicides by CCW permit holders between 2008 and 2011 and 14 of those were domestic homicides. That makes the rate of domestic homicides per 100,000 per year .583 for CCW holders.

The homicide rate nationally dropped  from 5.4 to 4.7 per 100,000 during that period. The Florida homicide rate dropped from 6.4 to 5.2 per 100,000 during the same time. Since we’re only looking at Sunshine State CCW holders, we’d expect those rates to be a bit higher than the national rate for this period.

When we look at the numbers for sworn officers, I found 52 domestic homicides committed by sworn police officers from 2008 – 2011.  Nationally for the same period the police rate is 52/2,818,924 or 1.854/100,000 domestic homicides per 100,000 police per year.

So for the data that we have, police appear to be three times as likely to commit murder as a concealed carry permit holder.

If we include all unjustified homicides (excluding suicides) found in Florida by the VPC for CCW holders for all four years, the rate is only 27/2,400,713 or 1.125 per 100,000 population per year. That’s comparable to the homicide rates in developed western European countries. It’s only 61% of the rate for police officers for domestic homicides alone.

There are no complete and definitive sources of data that will give us an accurate ratio of unjustified homicides committed by police officers compared to CCW holders. The numbers are very small and no one appears to keep track of them nationally. However, the numbers found for domestic homicide cases, which are some of the most easily solved and most highly publicized, offer strong evidence that CCW permit holders are far less likely to commit unjustified homicides than are police officers – as little as one third as much.

Data which contains links to individual cases.

CCW holders compared to general population

VPC data base of incidents (pdf)

Homicides committed by police

Police-involved domestic violence

VPC claims that Florida tops the nation in killings by CCW holders

FBI site showing homicide rates by year

Florida homicide rates by year

Site comparing European homicide rates


©2013 by Dean Weingarten of the Gun Watch blog: Permission to share is granted when this notice is included.

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  1. Cops and retired cops do seem to have more “issues” than non-police carry permit holders. Maybe its just because there are more cops than carry permit holders, and permit holders aren’t trying to arrest or take down people.

    Look at Rhode Island – the VPC’s CCW Killers study shows that the only permit holder to kill someone else was a retired cop on disability who got upset when kids threw tennis balls at his wife’s car.

    Sorry, but I trust concealed carry permit holders and the average citizen in a Vermont Carry state a lot more than the average cop.

    • Too often coppers develop an attitude of being privileged because of the authority entrusted to them by the state. In addition, they tend to have proactive type A personalities.

      As a result, some LEOs take unjustifiable liberties and actions they would not otherwise take as mere civilians who have not been trained and employed as police officers. Some of these LEOs have become complacent about, and accustomed to impulsively employing at will the authority they have enjoyed for many years. Then they find they have overstepped their bounds.

  2. I don’t just have a CCW I have also been vetted for my job. Cops are not investigated as thoroughly as I was. I find it strange people really trust a Badge as much as they do.
    Some cops here may be offended but ask yourself if you know people on the force who really should not be there. And tney have serious weapons.

  3. IIRC when Clinton put the “Have you ever been convicted of the misdemeanor domestic violence charge” box on the 4417 he later had to put in a clause to exempt law enforcement because so many were being fired for being wife beaters. Tell the VPC that!

    • Same with the military, I knew of 4 guys who had been convicted of domestic violence which effectively means they can not be in possession of a weapon, which should render their services as no longer needed, but the military kept them on. Some of them were senior NCOs and officers as well.

  4. I think police just get used to people doing what they say. Then when someone doesn’t, they take it as a personal insult.

  5. Well, I’m not a police officer, but all the ones I know are great people. Some of them accept a level of discipline I’m not entirely comfortable with, like a couple of the former marines I know. They’re not perfect; they’re people. In my experience, the type of experience you have with law enforcement depends 90+% on the attitude you approach them with. But then, that’s true of just about everyone. For cop murder rates, I believe it. They deal every day with the worst sub-human scum this species produces, and that sort of thing can cause problems in people, even the best of them. I think of it almost like a low-grade, slow building, PTSD. What they need, and we need, is for them to be regularly bounced around with the Brownian motion of society, and brought into contact with other decent people in decent settings, reminding them that there is a world beyond the flashing sirens. It’s very easy to get tunnel vision, when you feel like you are constantly under fire. The cops I know are great people, but I think at least part of that is that just about all of them spend time every week at a church, or a club, or a synagouge, not being cops.

    • Great idea. Give em a few days as plain clothed cops in schools and nicer places than they usually go to on the job… also we may need to give them better access to mental health like the VA does for returning troops or give em integration briefings like we now do with returning troops, except give it to the cops like once a month…

    • “I think of it almost like a low-grade, slow building, PTSD.”

      I have had the same hypothesis for more than a year now.

      I was thinking that active duty law enforcement officers who spend a lot of time dealing with the worst that the public has to offer should be limited to a certain number of years of such exposure. I have no idea what happens after the limit … transfer to duty on “nice” assignments, retirement, etc. ?????

    • Oh that’s what we need, a bunch of non-LEO’s offering nanny hoop solutions for all LEO’s to jump through to solve a bad cop problem when ya’ll even acknowledge officers you know personally are upstanding people.

      You’re speaking like grabbers telling the country what the nation must do to stop gun violence when in fact such efforts will have at best very minor impact.

      As with all trades, law enforcement has good aspects and bad aspects, good players and bad players, and just like society at large, there is no cookie cutter solution to problems that plague the LE community.

      While suggestions made on this thread may be useful in some specific instances as redirection, generally not. There is not one simple set of solutions to officer misconduct. Close supervision, watching for patterns of misbehavior, and discipline up to and including firing where appropriate work best. Problems that exist agency wide as a culture of abuse are a political problem that must be resolved politically or judicially.

      Nonetheless, thanks for the thoughts.

      • This attitude is exactly part of the problem. On top of that, the upper echelon of officer have indoctrinated officers to refer to the public as “civilians” for example.

    • They deal every day with the worst sub-human scum this species produces

      For every “sub human scum” the cops deal with on a daily basis, they deal with 100 of us. Then they treat everybody the same — which is to say, they treat everybody like a criminal.

      Cops get PTSD because so many “regular people” see the police as dangerous, not a part of the community and an army responsible only to themselves. So, cops have no friends except for other cops, and they grow more and more insular. It becomes “blue against you” — and it’s been going on since the 60s.

      Get the police — especially urban police — out of their cars and cop shops. Have them patrol neighborhoods, preferably neighborhoods that they live in if possible. Let them get to know the store owners, residents and everyday people — and maybe cops will become part of the communities and earn some respect.

  6. The answer is crystal clear. The VPC like so many other left wing groups are statist. They believe in the almighty power of the state, of big government. Any authority the state claims is just. Any abuse of that authority is dismissed. This is an easy thing to prove.

    I have CCW permits from Florida, Utah, and Arizona. Soon I will get my permit from Illinois. I have been through the FBI background check 3 times, which is required to be a police officer in Florida. I have gone through the same firearm qualification that Chicago PD go through. I have had 24 class hours in firearm law. Other than the fact that I don’t carry a badge, what (only when it comes to guns) have I not done that a rookie police officer has not – same background check, range qualifications, and classroom time.

    But according to the VPC, I am a danger while the freshly minted rookie cop is not. Why? Because he caries the authority of the state, and I don’t. Background check is meaningless. Rage time is not a factor. Classroom education is irrelevant. Either you are a “can do no wrong” agent of their beloved government and can have a gun; or you are a redneck/hillbilly/suspect with violent tendencies and a little dick and you can’t.

      • 1) I’m not talking about the whole of policing. I am not a cop, don’t ever want to be one. I am talking STRICTLY about knowing gun laws and firearm qualifications. How much academy time is spent on teaching recruits gun laws and firearms handling. The state of Florida does not have a “Police Academy” instead has accredited a number of vocational/community/state collages as law enforcement training centers. Looking at the course curricula, the TOTAL amount of time dedicated to firearms is 18-22 hours. That’s it, and that is my point. If a CCW permit holder can pass the same background check, class time, and firearms qualifications as a cop, suggesting that police are “better qualified” to carry guns is wrong. And attaching any more value, self control, morality, etc. to police over “civilians” because they are agents of the government is pure statism.

        2) I don’t put any faith in police psych exams anymore. First, a quick google search comes up with thousands of sites on “tricks to pass a police psych exam.” More importantly, the number of dashcam and cellphone videos I have seen of police threatening and brutally attacking people with little to no cause demonstrates that a large number of emotionally unstable/sociopathic slip through that net.

  7. The crime numbers for cops versus CCW holders only show felony convictions. As we all know a cop can get away with a whole lot more than the rest of us.

    I know the homicide rate for cops is higher than CCW holders, but I bet the cop canicide rate is astronomical.

  8. “the police rate is 52/2,818,924”

    Are there really 2,818,924 police officers in the U.S.????? I thought it was closer to 1,000,000 … although I honestly don’t know why that number sticks in my head.

    I would also be interested to know how many of those police officers normally work to prevent/solve crime in public, versus “clerks” or “logistics” types.

  9. This is all well and good but publishing these stats on TTAG does not get the message out to the general public. At the very least you have to get this on Fox News or to John Lott before anyone besides our own little echo chamber hears it.

  10. An excellent article that includes important statistics for the 2d Amendment argument, i.e., that the public is more trustworthy than our erstwhile “masters” think.
    The police dept. I used to advise would pare down recruits from 150 to an academy class of 30. Eighteen weeks of training reduced that number to 22-20 graduates. This was a medium-size southern city (pop. 175,000). Most smaller towns cannot begin to do such careful screenings. But even with such precautions we still had an occasional officer who lost his badge (and often his freedom) b/c of illegal activity.
    Compare this and the facts in this article and the conclusion is that the armed citizen is more conscientious about his conduct, character, and the reputation of himself and his kind (people of the gun) than police officers are-and by a wide margin!
    The Founders knew what they were doing to trust the average citizen with the responsibility of going armed.

  11. Facts:the antigunners are not interested in these.

    Antigunner: “This law will not do jack-squat to prevent any mass shootings/crimes/illegal activities, but hey lets pass it just to make it look like we care”

    • The liberal fascists and hoplophobes are not interested in the facts, but the low information voters are when they see them.

      Many of them see them in comments sections where second amendment activists quote them when debunking the liberal fascists.

      This is ammunition for that debunking.

      • Great point, and this is a great article, Dean. I don’t read TTAG often, I picked it up from The Gun Wire.

        Here’s a point that may help to bring some of our rage-filled cops and cop-bashing citizens together: both the cop numbers and the CCW-holder numbers are significantly lower than the gen-pop numbers which wobble around 10-12 per 100k.

        Another point to remember: when Der Bloomfuhrer and Moms Demand Attention™ rant about how the US is the most deadly nation, etc. with the highest murder rate, they’re either restricting the range of their statistics with some artificial cutoff, or just making it up. The US is actually in about the middle of the pack, between the extremes of, say, Switzerland and Colombia.

        They also amplify “gun death” figures by including suicides and lawful homicides (i.e. self defence by law officers and citizens alike). Most US “gun deaths” are suicides, and as many as half of homicides are lawful killings.

        One last point, while the spree killers and stranger murderers get the attention, the vast majority of homicides are by people involved in unlawful activity, of people involved in unlawful activity.

        Also, I think a number of people didn’t understand the math and were bemused by the 2.8 million denominator when there’s only 1.2 million cops. In fact your exposure is “per 100k cops per year.” So if one has 700k beat cops times four years of data, bingo, 2.8 million.

  12. LEO is more common. The prisons are full of LEO that have committed murder. In fact there have been spree shooters that were off duty LEO. The pizza joint shooting that left 6 dead in Wisconsin (2007) was an off duty LEO. There are some other less known examples out there on that as well.

  13. Hmmm. I guess I’m 3x more homicidal than the average TTAG poster. Sounds about right. I’m not sure how I feel about that, other than this irresistible flood of rage…

    Seriously, though, I enjoyed the article. I’ll post this to my FB page for those few people who will read it. I’m one of the folks out there roaming the streets who is honest enough to tell the people who ask that a police officer probably won’t be able to arrive in time to save your life. Armed self defense is the right of every responsible citizen, despite the efforts of our politicians who wish to destroy that right, or relegate the use of firearms to technology more than 100 years old.

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