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FBI says handgun deaths drop when conceal carry requirements are dropped

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FBI crime report figures show that Alaska, Arizona, and Wyoming–three states that abolished their concealed requirement years ago–have since witnessed a decreased in handgun murders.
This runs completely counter to the left’s doom and gloom predictions whereby they claim doing away with a government-issued carry permit will mean more bad guys carrying guns, more shootings and violence, etc.

FBI figures published by the NRA show that Alaska’s handgun murder rate “declined after the state enacted permitless carry in 2003.” Moreover, in the years since Alaska’s permit requirement was abolished “handgun murders have declined as a percentage of the total number of murders.”

A drop in handgun murders also took place in Arizona after that state abolished its concealed carry permit requirement in 2010. And in Wyoming–which abolished its permit requirement in 2011–handgun murders have declined as well.

A total of 12 states have abolished their concealed carry permit requirement. Those are Alaska, Arizona, Idaho, Kansas, Maine, Mississippi, Missouri, New Hampshire, North Dakota, Vermont, Wyoming, and West Virginia. And Arkansas and Montana recognize permitless carry in the vast majority of their states too.


Comparing states on violent crime rate

Gaetz used Uniform Crime Reporting figures compiled by the U.S. Department of Justice to create his statistics. The data come 2012.

He divided the states into two groups — the eight states that did not allow open carry at the time, which included Florida, Texas, California, South Carolina, Illinois, New York, Oklahoma, Arkansas — and the 42 states that did allow open carry.

Gaetz then compared the total number of violent crimes (defined by federal officials as murder, forcible rape, robbery and aggravated assault) with the total population in the eight states without open carry in 2012. We checked his math and found the same result: Those states had a combined violent crime rate of about 434 per 100,000 people. The remaining 42 states had a violent crime rate of about 352 per 100,000. That means states with open carry laws did have a 23 percent lower violent crime rate that year.

Not all open carry states are the same, however, and laws vary from state to state.  The Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence lists states that prohibit the open carry of handguns in public places, states that allow open carrying without a permit, and states that require some form of license to open carry. They currently list five states that prohibit the open carrying of handguns in public places.

But that’s not the only issue with these statistics.

We asked several experts about Gaetz’s methodology. Many of them said the single law was too narrow to draw meaningful conclusions about its impact. In essence, his number -- for one year -- is right, but so what?

Gaetz framed the use of the stats as "evidence that this bill does not create a less safe environment." John Pierce, co-founder of gun rights group OpenCarry.org, agreed with that point. But he said the data doesn't necessarily reflect a correlation between allowing open carry and fewer instances of violent crime.

He noted that Texas and Florida are both populous states with huge numbers of concealed carry permit holders so focusing just on open carry laws will give a skewed picture about the effect of legally-armed citizens on crime rates.

Tomislav Kovandzic, a University of Texas professor who teaches classes on research methods and gun control, was more blunt.

"The problem with this approach is that it implicitly assumes that both groups of states were identical/similar before the laws in the treatment states (in this case, open carry states) were enacted," Kovandzic told PolitiFact via email. "This is rarely, if ever, the case. As a result, the comparison merely reflects group differences that existed before the treatment states enacted the laws."

A sound look at the issue would require controlling for factors like specific crimes, population characteristics or other details, not Gaetz’s static group comparison.

"Even if he averaged multiple years together to make his open carry versus non-open carry comparison, it wouldn’t change the futility of the approach," he said.

What does more detailed research have to say? Florida State University criminology professor Gary Kleck said that plenty of research has found rates of carry permit holding "have no net effect on crime rates, including violent crime rates, one way or the other."

However, Kleck said that the research he has seen doesn’t differentiate between open carry and concealed carrying.


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Every criminal loves gun grabbers... all it does is leave law abiding citizens defenseless. If they have to wonder if everyone is packing, they won't be so quick to get themselves killed.

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