Understanding A Report Attempting To Paint Concealed Carriers As Killers

In the battle for our gun rights, concealed carry will always be a contentious topic. Anti-gunners can’t fathom why someone would feel a need to carry a gun on a day-to-day basis unless they’re under a very clear threat or are engaged in some kind of risky behavior. Nevermind how many people are murdered going about their normal day or anything. No, they just don’t get it.

Which is fine, as far as that goes. They were not put on this earth to “get it.”

What bothers me, though, is when they try to paint us as a bunch of killers. That’s the only driving force I can see behind a report talked about by Newsweek.

Since 2007, at least 1,300 people have died at the hands of a concealed carry permit holder for reasons other than self-defense, a new analysis from the non-profit Violence Policy Center shows.

Using public reporting and information culled from some individual state databases, the center was able to compile a list of 1,335 people killed by someone who, at the time, possessed a concealed carry permit.

There are several important caveats to their analysis, including that the weapons involved were not necessarily related to the individuals’ practice of concealed carry. But in a conversation with Newsweek, the group’s legislative director, Kristen Rand, explained that the purpose of the analysis was to reflect on the behavior of people who receive these licenses, not necessarily the practice of concealed carry itself.

The Violence Policy Center is a left-leaning organization which advocates for gun control.

Shocking, right?

Let’s put this in perspective. For the sake of argument, let’s assume that they didn’t count any instances in 2019. That gives us a period of 11 years in which those 1,335 people killed someone else. That’s an average of just a smidge over 121 people per year. (It’s not, but more on that later.)

In a nation of about 330 million people.

Further, there are millions of people with concealed carry permits. In 2017 there were an estimated 16.3 million permits in the United States. While that represented a record number at that time, it should also be known that the increase started in 2007, the same time the Violence Policy Center started their “study.”

Rand told Newsweek that the purpose was to reflect on the “behavior of people who receive these licenses.” However, what we can see is that as a percentage of the chosen population–namely, those who have concealed carry permits–such behavior hardly reaches concerning levels.

Don’t get me wrong, each of these instances represents a horrible tragedy.

What it doesn’t represent is some kind of pathology among concealed carriers. Especially since it’s not the only behavior that needs to be looked at.

Erich Pratt, senior vice president of the gun-rights group Gun Owners of America, thought that the focus on adverse use of firearms by concealed carry holders was unfair, given the vast number of permissible uses that occur every year.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has reported that estimates generally suggest around or more than 500,000 incidents each year involve a victim using a firearm in self-defense. Some research points to a lower number, around 100,000, although the data used for this calculation may be subject to errors underestimating the final tally.

At one time, though, the CDC found that almost 2.5 million people used a gun for self-defense, which makes the lower number somewhat suspect. However, even if we take these lower numbers at face value, it suggests someone with a concealed carry permit is 4,132 times more likely to use that gun in self-defense than otherwise.

Not that the Violence Policy Center actually cares about that.

Especially since they also lumped in suicides.

A majority of the cases received by the center are incidents of suicide, where concealed carry permit holders turn a weapon against themselves. (This is due, in large part, to Michigan’s data collections, one of the few states that collects information on suicides by permit holders.) More than 500 concealed carry permit holders have died by suicide since 2007.

Anti-gunners love to include suicides but fail to remember that it’s possible to commit suicide quite well without a firearm. This is a point we’ve repeatedly made. Further, including suicides is nothing more than an attempt by anti-gunners to inflate the numbers to make it all look more terrifying to the average person. Once these folks find out what percentage of these numbers are suicides, they tend to view the data quite differently.

That said, let’s look at this and just assume that “more than 500” translates to 501. Just for the sake of argument.

That leaves 834 killings that aren’t suicides. Over 11 years. That’s almost 76 non-self-defense killings per year by someone with a concealed carry permit. If the number of suicides is greater than 501, that total number drops accordingly.

Again, in a nation of 330 million people.

Rand made it pretty clear that this “study” is an attempt to paint people with concealed carry permits in a negative light. However, I’d argue that it does quite the opposite. In fact, I’d be very interested to find data on the number of police officers who engage in bad shoots each year for comparison. It might be interesting to compare the per capita rate to see how they stack up against one another. I’m quite sure concealed carry will hold up quite well.

You see, that’s because we know concealed carry permit holders are among the most law-abiding groups out there.

All this study really did is support that distinction.