Blood in the streets. The Wild West. Absolute anarchy. For gun control activists, Florida’s new permitless carry law is apocalyptically bad news, but as Bill Cawthon of the Second Amendment Society of Texas explains on today’s Bearing Arms’ Cam & Co, data shows permitless carry doesn’t lead to a surge in violent crime anymore than universal background check laws reduce homicides.
To be fair, Cawthon’s data doesn’t indicate that passing permitless carry eradicates violent crime either, but I’m not aware of anyone actually making that argument. Gun controllers, on the other hand, base most of their public rationale for their policies on improving public safety. When Cawthon took at look at what happened in four states that adopted “universal background check” laws and compared them to the homicide rates in four recent constitutional carry states, however, the talking points of the anti-gunners fell apart.
Between 2014 and 2016, four states, Colorado, Delaware, Oregon, and Washington, passed universal background check laws. We matched them up with four states, Idaho, Kansas, Maine, and West Virginia, that adopted constitutional carry. We compared the outcomes in the first full year after the laws were enacted, the first five years after the law was enacted, and the number of additional homicides in the fifth year compared to the year the law was passed.
Universal Background Checks State Year Law Enacted Change First Full Year after Enacted Change 5 Years after Enacted Additional Homicides Colorado 2014 +14.2% +39.6% 86 Delaware 2016 -0.8% +30.7% 23 Oregon 2015 -8.2% -13.0% -12 Washington 2014 +11.5% +22.2% 64 Average +4.2% +19.9% 40.3 Constitutional Carry State Year Law Enacted Change First Full Year after Enacted Change 5 Years after Enacted Additional Homicides* Kansas 2015 +11.3% +3.7% 5 Maine* 2015 -13.9% +3.3% 1 Idaho 2015 -10.8% -24.4% -6 West Virginia 2016 +4.5% +8.1% 6 Average -2.2% -2.3% 1.5
Since 2020 and 2021 saw significant changes in the U.S. homicide rate, we also compared the outcomes for each state over the five-year period from 2016 to 2021, the most recent year for which detailed data is available. The background check states had 378 additional homicides; the constitutional carry states had 51.
From the results, it appears that constitutional carry laws are better at saving lives than universal background checks.
Shannon Watts is clutching her pearls.
To his credit, Cawthon also looked at homicide rates in all 15 states with “universal” background check laws as well as the 24 constitutional carry states (as of 2021), and found that the weighed averages of both states showed a much more modest 0.64% fewer homicides in states with permitless carry. His conclusion?
It appears that universal background checks don’t save lives and that constitutional carry doesn’t cause bloodbaths. The reality is that neither change seems to make that much difference. States with high homicide rates continued to have high homicide rates and those with low rates continued to have low rates.
That makes sense. Both “universal” background check laws and permitless carry are designed to impact legal gun owners; one negatively and one positively. But in either case, lawful gun owners aren’t the ones driving violent crime or “gun violence,” so the laws aren’t really gonna lay a finger on those repeat, violent offenders who are responsible for a disproportionate amount of crime. For that, we need a functional criminal justice system; not one that releases repeat armed robbery suspects on just $200 bond, as was recently the case in Cleveland, Ohio.
I appreciate Bill and his Santa Claus beard joining me on the show today, and I’d encourage you to check out more of his columns and research at the Second Amendment Society of Texas. And the next time someone you know starts hyperventilating over the prospect of permitless carry leading to anarchy in the streets encourage them to take a deep breath, show them Bill’s data, and have a conversation about the myths and misconceptions that drive the gun controllers’ talking points.