The Number of Concealed Carriers in the US Has Grown Seven Fold in the Last Two Decades

Woman concealed carry gun in purse

Bigstock

By Larry Keane

A new report shows the number of concealed carry permit applications is rising, even despite some states limiting Second Amendment rights during recent pandemic shutdowns. The number of permit holders for concealed firearms is nearly 20 million, according to a Washington Examiner report.

Since 1999, the number of concealed handgun permit holders has grown by at least seven-fold. The trend is continuing. That follows news that background checks for firearm sales topped 15.4 million so far this year, surpassing 2019’s totals and poised to eclipse the 2016 record of 15.7 million background checks in a single year. Forty percent of those buyers, almost 6.2 million, are first time buyers.

Twenty Year Trend

Record-setting gun sales has been the story of 2020. The surge in sales has also revealed a diversifying gun-owning population in America, with women and minorities comprising large percentages of buyers. Firearm retailer survey data show handgun purchases were by far the most common among buyers, and reasons of personal protection drove sales across all categories of firearms.

“I’ve seen a lot more single moms that are scared and need something to protect them,” said Dave Amon of Gunstop of Minnetonka, Minn. “They’re scared when people talk about defunding the police.”

defund the police ap crop

(AP Photo/Matt York)

This isn’t surprising given rioting, looting and violence on nightly news. Add to this backdrop criminals being released from jails and growing calls to “defund the police” and Americans are remedying their legitimate concerns by taking responsibility for their own safety.

The trend of an increasingly diverse gun buyer is mirrored in those obtaining concealed carry permits. “Permits for women and minorities continue to increase at a much faster rate than for either men or whites,” said John Lott, of the Crime Research Prevention Center, which tracks concealed carry permit applications.

That’s hardly new, though. The CPRC study shows nearly 20 million Americans today possess a concealed carry permit. That amounts to a more than seven-fold increase in permit carriers since 1999, when there were 2.7 million.

Raising Barriers

Some states used coronavirus pandemic shutdown orders as an excuse to pump the brakes on processing concealed carry permit applications. That’s evident in the dip in year-to-year examinations of permits. So far, 800,000 Americans have obtained their concealed carry permits in 2020, notably less than totals in 2019 and 2018, 1.4 million and 890,000, respectively.

Kenosha gun store sales

(AP Photo/Keith Srakocic)

Contributing to the reduction in permit application growth is the fact that thirteen states ceased processing concealed carry applications altogether for a period of time. Those states included Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, Michigan, Missouri, Montana, Nevada, North Carolina, Ohio, Oregon, Pennsylvania and Washington. In Pennsylvania, the backlog in permit processing has led to lawsuits.

A lawsuit was filed against the Philadelphia Police Department for requiring concealed carry permit applicants to wait up to 18 months. Pennsylvania law states municipalities must process applications within 45 days, and neighboring Bucks County is processing applications without delay, even with COVID circumstances.

Removing Barriers

This makes it all that much more important that Congress take action on the NSSF-backed Concealed Carry Reciprocity Act, H.R. 38, introduced by U.S. Rep. Richard Hudson (R-N.C.) and S. 69, by U.S. Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas). These bills eliminate the pitfalls 20 million Americans must navigate around when travelling from state-to-state.

The legislation would allow handgun owners who are legally permitted and authorized in and by their home state to carry a concealed firearm in other states they must comply with the laws of each state. Constitutional rights don’t end at a state’s borders and legal barriers to lawful self-protection shouldn’t either.

 

Larry Keane is SVP for Government and Public Affairs, Assistant Secretary and General Counsel of the National Shooting Sports Foundation.

comments

  1. avatar Specialist38 says:

    Would love to see national reciprocity……I think.

    National constitutional carry would be best.

    Imhave carried a gun for 40 years.

    20 of those was with a permit. Didnt exist in my state when I started carrying.

    1. avatar jwm says:

      Never lived in a state that was shall issue while I lived there. I carried when I needed to. And still do.

      1. avatar SoCalJack says:

        I have buddies, law abiding citizens, in LA Co and they carry concealed, but usually it’s kept in their vehicle. There’s way more bad guys out there than good guys with guns.

        1. avatar Mark N. says:

          Actually, and fortunately, there are way more good guys than bad guys out there overall, although there can be dangerous concentrations of bad guys in some neighborhoods.

    2. avatar anyway says:

      In my state that’s been a felony since at least the 1970s. Like most other states and municipalities, the individual right of plebs to keep and bear arms was not really recognized by the powers that be between the mid and the early 2000s. When we finally did get concealed carry licensing passed, our Republican governor and Republican legislature poison-pilled it and made it incredibly restrictive and useless at first. Our Democrat former governor who fixed our concealed carry laws is completely distant from the Democrats trying to ruin the planet today.

      1. avatar anyway says:

        *mid 1800s and early 2000s.

  2. avatar Dennis Sumner says:

    An armed society…..etc.

  3. avatar nanotech says:

    I hope H.R. 38 has some legs and can be adopted in a bipartisan manner. Perhaps that’s still wishful thinking in the present climate. Hopefully the POTG’s general attitude of inclusiveness will continue to grow and help spread the truth about the disproportionate benefits of DGUs by concealed carriers, many of which don’t even involve firing a shot.

  4. avatar I Haz A Question says:

    I’d like to posit that the numbers of actual carriers is even greater, if all “constitutional carry” minded people are included, and not only those who rely on the little permission slips granted by our overlords. Many Sheriffs (Los Angeles, for example) refuse to acknowledge our right, so we must look to the labyrinthine maze of loopholes to navigate the little ways we can legally “possess” a gun within arm’s reach wherever we are. It’s not true carry, but one does what one can, with what little our anti-2A overlords allow.

    1. avatar GunnyGene says:

      If you can’t be with the one you love, love the one you’re with. 🙂 😉

  5. avatar Tim says:

    “Since 1999, the number of concealed handgun permit holders has grown by at least seven-fold…”

    Wanna guess how many time larger my “collection” is since 1999?
    Hint: It rhymes with “plenty”.

  6. avatar possum says:

    Yay, a whole bunch of people were granted permission to carry a gunm.

  7. avatar Mercury says:

    Bad trigger discipline on that stock photo. Just saying.

    1. avatar 300BlackoutFan says:

      It’s a stock photo. Luckily, that firearm won’t shoot due to lack of rear slide cover plate.

      1. avatar Tim says:

        Nice catch.

    2. avatar jwtaylor says:

      Maybe not. There might be a spider in that purse.

  8. avatar Higgs says:

    I think the time frame on the increase is even shorter than indicated, and the real number of concealed carry is higher.

    If I remember correctly, there were 4 million permits when President Obama took office. Less than 12 years later, here we are at 20 million permits.

    Now add to that the fact that the number of constitutional carry states has increased during this same time, and the reality is there are far more people who can and do carry than the 20 million licensed permit holders.

    1. avatar GunnyGene says:

      I’m one of those horrible crazy old retired Marines who lives out in the woods with too many guns in a permitless carry State & carries sans permission, in town and otherwise. Never had a permit in my life in any State and don’t intend to sign up for one now.
      And furthermore, the smallest gat I carry ( in condition 0 ) has a 12+1 capacity and no safety. I have others that are even more horrible in a variety of ways. 🙂

      I’m a baaaad man. 🙂 😉

  9. avatar Riley says:

    Sadly, none of the “may issue” states contribute to the rising number of concealed carriers. Hopefully we will soon have enough Supreme Court justices who believe in affirming the Second Amendment as a fundamental civil right. When “may issue” is struck down, it will be delicious to witness the wailing and gnashing of teeth in places like NY, NJ, CA, HI, MD.

    1. avatar SoCalJack says:

      CCW’s for CA:
      2015 82,228
      2018 95,228
      2020 summer 122,898
      Exponential increase, but the recent total pales in comparison to free states and CA’s huge population. (I.e TX at 1.5M CCW’s issued)
      Source or Number of CCW’s as of Summer 2020: https://www.calguns.net/calgunforum/showthread.php?t=1236204

      In Ventura Co it’s $300 for mando CCW class and $200 for the permit. Oh and $130/yr for CCW insurance. It gets expensive fast.

      1. avatar James Campbell says:

        My youngest son turned 21 a few weeks ago, his LTC only cost him $56 total.
        He actually received his card in the mail today.
        He went out today open carrying the German made SIG P220ST received from me on his birthday.

        1. avatar James Campbell says:

          Correction; $53.50.

      2. avatar Riley says:

        Good point, illustrating how certain parts of California respect the 2A. In my state of Maryland, permits are controlled by the state police only. Things got a little better for a while until the legislature stepped in to eliminate a citizens appeals board which was responsible for a small amount of common sense progress.

    2. avatar UpInArms says:

      ” none of the “may issue” states contribute to the rising number of concealed carriers ”

      Don’t be so sure about that. In Delaware, part of the application process includes putting an ad in the paper announcing your intention to get a permit. Used to be I’d see a few ads in the space of a month. Now they pop up at a half-dozen or more each day. Delaware is a “may issue” state, though I don’t know anyone that has been turned down for a CCW.

  10. avatar JOHN THAYER says:

    Florida kicked off the modern CCW permit trend in 1987 when Republican Governor Robert “Bob” Martinez signed the CCW reform bill, passed overwhelmingly by the Republican controlled legislature, into law.

  11. avatar Adub says:

    Gunstop? I buy all my reloading equipment there! Good people…

  12. avatar Old Guy in Montana says:

    The article and comments (so far) don’t touch on the number of retired officers who carry concealed under L.E.O.S.A. 2004. When you consider the number of Federal, State, Local, Tribal, Military, etc who qualify under the Act…the concealed numbers should be far in excess of the 20 million reported in the article.

    I had great hopes that the passage of L.E.O.S.A. would provide positive statistics for the passage / adoption of nationwide reciprocity…alas, the communist Democrat controlled States have thwarted all efforts for nationwide recognition of lawful gun toters.

    1. avatar Mark N. says:

      In California, the Legislature is often adding another exemption to gun laws for retired police of all departments and for corrections officers. The latter has one of the largest unions in the State, and the Legislature is always concerned about keeping it mollified.

      The only exception is as to “assault weapons.” Although a LEO may possess an automatic rifle for duty use, that right terminates at retirement, and the old practice of gifting the duty weapon to the retiring officer was halted. San Francisco took that a step further. Officers may have “large capacity” magazines for their duty weapons, but may carry them only while on duty. An off duty officer may not possess a large capacity mag in city limits.

  13. avatar The anti-fancy says:

    Read this article with a holstered p365 in the pocket.

    I think it’s great some people have the opportunity to learn, train, and carry. That said, its not for everyone.

    1. avatar jwm says:

      The decision is for everyone to make. At least in a free society.

      1. avatar The anti-fancy says:

        Agreed, ideally every responsible person of age would have that decision.

      2. avatar Mark N. says:

        True enough, but the consequences of such a decision can be catastrophic. I for one could lose my professional license or b e suspended (and thus put out of work) even for a misdemeanor conviction of carrying concealed without a license. It is one of those hammers the State holds over those of us who work in licensed professions–a morals clause.

        1. avatar jwm says:

          I’m retired. No work issues for me.

  14. avatar Ugly95 says:

    NJ has a population of 8.9 Million people and less than 1,200 valid CCW permits. There are 1 million gun owners in NJ. How many would like the chance to carry yet the government will not allow it? FYI if you get caught illegally in possession of a gun (carry with out a permit) you are looking at 5-10 years in state prison with a mandatory minimum of 3.5 years without parole. Get your asses out and vote this year for the right guy there are patriots out there that need your help and are fighting the good fight vs the communists daily.

    1. avatar possum says:

      Wow, 3.5 years, before this state went constitutional carry it was a misdemeanor, they kept the gunm.

      1. avatar Specialist 38 says:

        That’s the way it was in MS when i was younger. Misdemeanor and they could keep the Gun if they didn’t like the looks of you.

        Pure Jim Crow. Like most all gun laws.

      2. avatar James Campbell says:

        Leave the gunm, take the canolies!

      3. avatar Mark N. says:

        In California it is a wobbler, meaning it can be charged as either a felony or a misdemeanor. On a first offense with a clean record and no aggravating circumstances, a misdemeanor charge is more likely.

        1. avatar GunnyGene says:

          It’s still an infringement. But maybe CA figured a misdemeanor charge is only a little infringement, hey? Kinda like being a little bit pregnant, ain’t it?

  15. avatar uncommon_sense says:

    Several of my family members have increased the ranks of licensed concealed carriers in the last 10 years (myself included).

    Better late than never I like to say.

  16. avatar H Allen Davis says:

    I think the author must have had a touch of dyslexia going on, or John Lott is working to thwart the search for knowledge concerning crime and firearms.

    I’m sure he works for the CRIME PREVENTION RESEARCH CENTER.

    If indeed he works for the Crime Research Prevention Center, then he’s standing in the way of solving a lot of problems that arise when we must suffer under the weight of all the damn gun control laws in this country!

  17. avatar busybeef says:

    Couldn’t get National Concealed Carry Reciprocity with a Republican president, Republican House, and Republican Senate.

    In fact, the current President came out in support of Red Flag laws and banning suppressors. He allowed his ATF to ban bump stocks and declare the Honey Badger an SBR.

    What makes anyone think this is any more than a pipe dream?

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