The Washington Post: Most Americans are wrong about whether concealed carry makes us safer


According to a Gallup poll, most people feel that the United States would be safer if more Americans carried a concealed weapon (presumed to be a firearm). “Safer” was the more popular choice by a significant margin: 56 to 41 percent. When blogging the poll I predicted that the mainstream media wold ignore it. Wrong. The Washington Post’s notoriously anti-gun Wonkblogger (note that’s a “o” not an “a”) felt compelled to counter this remarkably pro-gun rights stat. First, by pointing out that the Gallup question tied concealed carry to training and licensing – which some states have punted our of respect for the Second Amendment. Second, by marshaling all the studies they could find refuting respondents’ faith in concealed carry . . .

In more recent years [post More Guns, Less Crime), academics investigating the relationship between concealed carry laws and public safety have found:

  • There are “no statistically discernible relationship between concealed carry policies and the public’s perceptions of the number of firearm carriers.” Since the supposed deterrent effect of concealed carry laws “assumes that potential assailants are aware of the distribution of firearm carriers in the potential victim population… the data suggest easing concealed carry cannot deter crime” (Fortunato, 2015)
  • “Right-to-carry laws are associated with substantially higher rates” of aggravated assault, robbery, rape and murder. (Aneja, Donohue and Zhang, 2014)
  • “No support to the hypothesis that shall-issue laws have beneficial effects in reducing murder rates” (Grambsch, 2012)
  • At the city level, there is “no evidence that [right-to-carry] laws reduce or increase rates of violent crime” (Kovandzic, Marvell and Vieraitis, 2005)
  • “A ‘shall issue’ law that eliminates most restrictions on carrying a concealed weapon may be associated with increased firearm homicide rates” (Rosengart et. al., 2005)
  • “No statistically significant association exists between changes in concealed weapon laws and state homicide rates” (Hepburn, Miller, Azrael and Hemenway, 2004)
  • “Changes in gun ownership are significantly positively related to changes in the homicide rate” (Ludwig, 2002)

Without fisking the actual studies, it’s interesting that only two of the studies carefully chosen to torpedo concealed carry suggest that firearms-related crime increases with the practice. The others conclude that it’s a non-issue. The WaPo is OK with that because it “proves” that America isn’t safer with concealed carry.

Hang on. What happened to the antis’ faith in “common sense”? Reading Wonkblog’s analysis we can only conclude that Gallup’s respondents didn’t read any of these studies, and simply applied common sense to the question. America would have to be safer if more trained, licensed people (i.e. law-abiding) carried guns because it would be harder to victimize them. A fact that writer Christopher Ingraham almost manages to grasp . . .

. . . it’s clear that “more guns, less crime” is at best a misleading simplification of the relationship between concealed carry and public safety, and at worst a “completely discredited” notion. But the persistence of the idea, seen most recently in Gallup’s survey, is testament to gun rights advocates’ success in selling it.

As I said, no selling required. It’s a shame that the anti-gun bourgeoisie are incapable of buying anything remotely resembling the truth about guns.


  1. avatar Jon says:

    Ah yes the elites know whats best. Since they do not wish for us to have guns the question should be does 911 work? Everytime I check the Police show up a day late dollar short. Everyone’s dead, bleeding out, etc.

    1. avatar Bob says:

      That’s likely true, unless you’re one of the elite. Then I bet they’d show up like gangbusters.

      When your view is from the back of a unicorn, they can’t possibly even fathom what your view looks like.

    2. avatar BDub says:

      There are only two kinds of people in Progtopia – Those that agree with you and those that are too stupid to know they should agree with you.

  2. avatar Ralph says:

    I feel safer when I carry a gun and smarter when I don’t read WaPo, known for at least 40 years as “Pravda on the Potomac.”

    1. avatar Indiana Tom says:

      I am loving it.

  3. avatar Joe R. says:

    When gallup / WaPo / Huffpoo / NYT, etc., gets to decide anything for us, I’m going to have to hunt the rest of you.

  4. avatar mark s. says:

    ” makes ( us ) safer “???

  5. avatar Former Water Walker says:

    Ya’ know you’d think the anti-leftwipes would be all for gunz-aren’t they ruled by FEELINGS anyway?

  6. avatar JD says:

    I don’t know if it makes “us” safer but it sure does make “me” safer. And that is really all I care about.

  7. avatar DrVino says:

    It’s not just a river in Egypt. .

  8. avatar jwm says:

    Wapo? If it wasn’t for TTAG would they have any readers?

  9. avatar FedUp says:

    Guns make us less safe?
    So all we have to do to make the streets safer is disarm the police?

    1. avatar PeterC says:

      That’s quite true…for a certain undesirable segment of the population.

  10. avatar NineShooter says:

    To the first bullet point, above;

    – We don’t care about “the public’s perceptions of the number of firearm carriers.”; we care about the CRIMINALS’ perceptions of the number of firearm carriers. If they’d asked the correct question, they wouldn’t have liked the answer, so they asked the wrong question, on purpose.

    Second point:

    – The fact that “Right-to-carry laws are associated with substantially higher rates” of aggravated assault, robbery, rape and murder, could simply mean that in areas where these problems were running rampant, a decision has been made to allow expansion of right-to-carry laws. They’d like us to believe the laws caused the crime problem, when in reality, it almost always happens the other way around when it comes to right-to-carry laws. First comes the problem, THEN comes the solution(s). Besides, our man Leghorn already took this so-called “study” apart; here’s a link to the page:

    And a quote, for good measure:

    “In fact, in the study itself, the authors admit that they only have a 10% confidence in the validity of the outcome:

    Across the basic seven Index I crime categories, the strongest evidence of a statistically significant effect would be for aggravated assault, with 11 of 28 estimates suggesting that RTC laws increase this crime at the .10 confidence level.”

    Note: this is the BEST evidence they could come up with, and it only generated a 10% confidence level. Complete drivel.

    1. avatar NineShooter says:

      All we have to remember and point out to the enemies of gun rights, is that millions of additional guns are sold every single year, and crime is going DOWN in the vast majority of cities and states. Guns are NOT the problem, nor is legal carry of them by law-abiding citizens.

  11. avatar George says:

    And, hence, Washington, DC is the safest city in the world.

  12. avatar 277Volt says:

    In other words “You silly, quaint little people need to quit pretending you can make adult decisions without us”.

  13. avatar DaveL says:

    I’m confused, do feelings matter, or do facts? Because they can’t seem to make up their minds.

  14. avatar Fukem says:

    Defend yourself, shoot anyone that trys to restrict your access to firearms.

  15. avatar Colt Magnum says:

    I don’t give a rat’s ass what this guy thinks. Twice, in 30 yrs., being armed has saved my bacon. First time, a defensive display of my pistol convinced the burglar to leave. Second time, 1 yr. ago; my stance, flashlight, attitude, and the mystery of what might be in my right hand, discouraged 4 miscreants from robbing me. They never saw the pistol, but it was halfway out of the holster.

    1. avatar Ralph says:

      A former co-worker, who has a felony collar on his record, was once accosted by four miscreants who were hassling him and his wife, probably working themselves up to administer a beating and robbery. Without displaying a firearm, my coworker said, “Okay, which one of you pr!cks wants to get shot first?” The four punks suddenly decided that they really needed to go home and study for their differential calculus midterms, so they left.

      Oh, and as I mentioned, my co-worker has a felony on his record and lost his guns rights as a result — so he was not carrying. I guess that punks are just punks after all.

  16. avatar gsnyder says:

    “. . . it’s clear that “more guns, less crime” is at best a misleading simplification”. Simplification and misleading, really?
    So the extensive research conducted by John Lott is BS? Give him a call and present your argument, I dare them.

  17. avatar James says:

    You asked in the previous post whether a rational civilized discussion was possible and this response by WaPo unintentionally gives you the answer. For the WaPo, it was about cherry picking studies to reinforce their anti gun beliefs and preen about their moral and intellectual superiority. They didn’t want to understand why Gallop’s polls results were what it was. They want to look down on other and say “you’re wrong, we’re right, and we are better than you so obey.”

  18. avatar Adrik says:

    LOL So when people vote in polls that show most favor gun control it is the voice of the people but when the polls show a lack of support for gun control the people are WRONG. I have never seen such blatant hamstering.

  19. avatar ted says:

    Increased homicide rates are OK with me if it’s the criminals that are getting killed.

    Raising the risks for criminal behavior is exactly what carrying a firearm is supposed to do.

    1. avatar Scoutino says:

      That’s what I said. Increase in firearm homicide rate? As long as the right people are getting shot. ..

  20. avatar Missouri Mule says:

    I don’t feel safer, I am safer.

  21. avatar Frank Masotti says:

    Are they stoned? Or just idiotically blind?

  22. avatar Hannibal says:

    Banning motorcycles would make “us” safer. Banning backyard swimming pools would make “us” safer. Let’s get beyond the idea of safety being all-important.

    1. avatar NYC2AZ says:

      I’m waiting for the WaPo headline: “BREAKING NEWS: Most Americans die at home. Will homelessness decrease this epidemic?”

  23. avatar Indiana Tom says:

    The Modern Man never needs a gun.

    1. avatar Adub says:

      Because he got confused when he loaded the bullets backward…

  24. avatar Lime Green Medic says:

    Interesting. I DID read the articles he cited. They are cleverly written. The Fortunato piece says this in its body:

    “Thus, instead of analyzing outcomes, this study considers the deterrence argument, identifies the necessary condition for the process, and evaluates this condition to assess whether easing concealed carry can potentially deter crime. ”

    Pure obfuscation. Instead of addressing the actual crime reduction, this paper supports its thesis based upon the PERCEPTION of crime reduction. Nice, huh?

    The Donohue “reference” merely contains assertions and no data. Because it’s an ARTICLE written ABOUT the study by a guy named Clifton B. Parker, NOT THE STUDY ITSELF. Almost as if the author of THIS article didn’t actually expect anyone to check the references.

    The ROSENGART piece attacks John R. Lott’s methods of statistical reporting:
    “The integrity of the State-level data used by MGLC has yet to be examined, even though numerous research studies related to the gun-control debate continue to perform increasingly complex analyses that draw contradictory conclusions and inferences from those data.”

    Yeah. Nice try. Just because you don’t like the data doesn’t mean you get to claim it “has yet to be examined.”

    The Kovandzic et. al. “study” also links to an abstract, which says THIS:

    “The authors measure the effects of the laws using a time-trend variable for the number of years after the law has been in effect, as opposed to the dummy variable approach used in prior research. They also address many of the methodological problems encountered in previous studies. The results provide no evidence that the laws reduce or increase rates of violent crime.”

    So in other words, you used a different method of measuring the statistics in order to skew the results. We get it. “Time-Trend” variable? Where you get to decide the time, or the trend, or both?

    The Hepburn piece? Look at the TIME FRAME:


    Pooled cross-sectional time-series data (1979-1998) for 50 states and Poisson regression methods were used to estimate the effect of changes in state laws on homicide rates.”

    Yeah, except that shall-issue carry didn’t start until 1987 in Florida. Further, using the Poisson regression method to “estimate” the effect of changes? That’s straight-up sloppy, agenda-driven “research” right there. Why aren’t we calling them on this??

    Finally, the Ludwig piece, cited by Mark Duggan in his abstract (which is where the link points), addresses gun OWNERSHIP, and NOT CONCEALED CARRY. Way to add in irrelevant facts upon which to build your straw man.

    In conclusion, I find the Washington Post article agenda-driven and intellectually dishonest, caught in several different obfuscations which are sloppy research AT BEST, and DELIBERATE SKEWING OF THE INTERPRETATION OF THE FACTS AT WORST.

    But of course, we already knew that. Now you have the data from which to draw your own conclusions, just like I did.

    1. avatar Mister Fleas says:

      Good job refuting the article.

  25. avatar Jonathan - Houston says:

    My favorite is the study claiming that “…carrying a concealed weapon may be associated with increased firearm homicide rates.”

    First, duh.
    Second, you say that like its a bad thing.

    It didn’t say “criminal homicide” rates, just homicides by firearm. I’d prefer violent crime didn’t exist. Insofar as it does, though, I’m ok with the trade-off of fewer rape, robbery and murder victims in exchange for more would-be rapists, robbers, and murderers becoming firearm homicides. What am I missing?

    1. avatar Ing says:

      I also like the part where that bullet point is followed by this one, which directly contradicts it:
      “No statistically significant association exists between changes in concealed weapon laws and state homicide rates” (Hepburn, Miller, Azrael and Hemenway, 2004)

  26. avatar Zz says:

    I can’t believe I’m saying this; but I don’t think these articles are working for the anti crowd. Witness the OODA loop. They spew lies, skewed lies and even the “for the children” bait. But I’ve noticed that with sites like TTAGs and others, their lies and stupid, emotion filled pleas are almost immediately debunked. Folks aren’t falling for this crap like they did years ago with the false narratives like when Glocks where introduced: “plastic guns that will bypass metal detectors” or hollow point billets that “slice through polic body armour like a hot knife through butter.” Folks are better informed these days. Case in point. I’m known as the “gun guy” at work. I just got a txt from a coworker that said “I think ive decided i want an ar”. This guy is 28, highly intelligent and didn’t grow up hunting. Loved in the city. First time he shot anything was a year ago. He quickly
    Acquired his carry permit and a pistol, mainly because of crime fears. But, he’s watched 3 gun and said “shit, that looks fun! Exactly, and he immediately understood that the old “assault weapons ban” full completely a shit bag law. He doesn’t have to learn that first hand. Without knowing about the OODA loop, he instantly got it. We’re gaining ground.

  27. avatar LNJK says:

    Firearms, much better than American Express, don’t leave home without one.

    Hell, I feel just plain naked without one, and just barely well dressed with two. But then there’s always my trusty Dalton OTF.

  28. avatar Dyspeptic Gunsmith says:

    These “studies” showing that CCW makes no difference in outcomes or safety have been around forever. They’ve been a stock part of the anti’s response since the early 90’s. When Gary Kleck came out with his book and studies, the anti’s issued forth great numbers of “studies” showing that CCW makes no difference. There’s plenty of stats and data that show differently, but the problem with playing the “study vs. study” game is that it doesn’t change minds. When you start quoting stats and methods, most people suffer from “MEGO Syndrome” – “My Eyes Glaze Over.”

    Here’s how I like to use the Socratic Method in helping people answer this question “Does a gun increase or decrease your safety?”

    I’m a reasonably large man. I postulate to the person who is ranting about how guns make people less safe: “Let’s say I hit you in the mouth – hard. And right after that, I hit you over the head, sweep your feet out from under you, and then commence doing whatever I want. Are you following me so far?”

    At this point, my conversational adversary’s eyes are usually wide open, and they’re often more than a little alarmed.

    Now, comes the $32,767.00 question: “How do you intend to stop this sequence of events?”

    For many anti-gunners, the answer is: “Call the police.”

    To which I respond: “Oh, so you admit that a gun can or will stop an attack, you’re just not willing to do for yourself, and instead you want someone else to do your work for you. OK, thanks for that admission.”

    You can then point out the delay in police response times, and how, when someone is kicking the crap out of you, 30 seconds feels like a long, long damned time.

    You can then move on to Warren v. DC, Gonzalez v. Castle Rock and other such nuggets of judicial wisdom after this point. However, to get this far, I find is necessary is to make the scenario personal.

    Then ask again: “So… how are you going to stop that sequence of events?”

    This technique works exceedingly well with the small, mouthy women who think they know everything. You all know the type. Often, they were ignored or left out of the fun because they were short, so they make up for it by being loud. Being a large-ish to no-kidding-large (say, over 6’4″, at least 240lbs) man in a debate with small, noisy women on this topic is highly entertaining. Other large[ish] men should try it. Practice looming over them to help drive the point home. It takes a visceral reaction to make them go quiet and start their brains thinking. They’re used to running their mouths non-stop and bullying everyone around them. Well, being big and not giving a rat’s rear end what they’re saying (or caring about the volume at which they’re saying it) breaks their concentration.

  29. avatar Out_Fang_Thief says:

    Let me get this right. The people doing the selling, are telling us, that WE’RE doing the selling? Imagine that, defending the constitution and all the amendments therein, is called selling. Huh?

  30. I have the right to protect myself and if you don’t like it tough $hit.
    The 2nd Amendment was put into the Constitution so the people could protect themselves from a corrupt government. No double standards put DC politicians on Obamacare and SS.Thanks for your support and vote.Pass the word.

  31. avatar Peter says:

    It is glaringly obvious, therefore never mentioned, that More Guns does NOT equal More Crime.

  32. avatar PeterK says:

    UGH I HATE THIS CRAP. Here’s a single unrepeated clearly flawed study which I will now present as fact. I will not draw my own conclusions or acknowledge any of the negatives, I will only parrot the author (or someone else’s) conclusions.

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