We knew that the Great Gun Run of 2020 led to millions of new gun owners, but according to a new report from the Crime Prevention Research Center, it also led to a huge increase in the number of individuals licensed to carry a firearm. The CRPC report shows that there are an estimated 21.5-million concealed carry licensees across the United States, and the rate of growth is phenomenal; up 48% over the past five years and a 10.5% increase in 2020 alone.
Some highlights from the report:
- 8.3% of American adults have permits. Outside of the restrictive states of California and New York, about 10.0% of adults have a permit.
- In fifteen states, more than 10% of adults have permits. Since 2019, Arkansas and Oklahoma have fallen below 10%, but they are now all Constitutional Carry states, meaning that people no longer need a permit to carry. Virginia’s concealed carry rate has risen to above 10%.
- Alabama has the highest concealed carry rate — 32.1%. Indiana is second with 21.6%, and Iowa is third with 16.5%.
- Six states now have over 1 million permit holders: Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Indiana, Pennsylvania, and Texas. Florida is the first state to have over 2.5 million permits.
The CRPC noted that concealed carry licenses declined in Arkansas and Oklahoma, but only because Constitutional Carry is the law of the land in both states. That’s also the case in 19 other states, which means that while there are more than 21-million Americans exercising their right to carry with a license, there are undoubtably hundreds of thousands if not millions more who are now lawfully bearing arms without the need for a government-issued permission slip.
There’s another factor that could soon add to the number of Americans who are exercising their right to carry; the New York State Rifle & Pistol Association v. Bruen case coming before the Supreme Court next month. That case has the potential to overturn the state’s subjective “may issue” permitting system, and could very well impact the handful of other states with similar laws on the books.
If the Supreme Court strikes down the “proper cause” requirement in the eight May Issue states, we estimate that there could be at least 2.3 million more concealed handgun permits. The eight states with that rule have issued permits to only 1.24% of their adult population compared to 10.77% for the other states.
There aren’t many “may issue” states left, but they are a pretty population-rich group, with New York and California alone close to 60-million residents between them. There are millions of Americans right now who would love to be able to exercise their right to bear arms in self-defense but can’t because the state they live in refuses to recognize the right at all.
It’s also worth noting the explosive growth in the right to carry took place despite the fact that sheriffs’ offices and police departments in many cities and counties were closed to the public for weeks or months at a time, or only accepted concealed carry applications by appointment. We know that in places like Wayne County, Michigan and Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, the wait to simply apply for a license to carry was six months or more by June of last year. In Illinois it was also taking almost six months on average for the state police to process carry applications, and some folks have had to wait for more than a year. There might be 21.5-million carry licenses active across the United States, but the demand for them is even higher than that.
Do yourself a favor and download the full report from the Crime Prevention Research Center here. There’s a lot of interesting data to digest, and authors John Lott and Carl Moody do a great job of presenting it in a very readable report that avoids dry academic language in favor of real talk and hard facts.