Headlines like this might draw your attention. That’s the goal. But as responsibly armed Americans, we need to dig further into such claims. This particular line is from a gun-control advocacy group called the Violence Policy Center.
The center claims to have a database that includes 1,335 total people killed by “concealed carry killers” since May 2007. This certainly flies in the face of what we have been told about how law-abiding permit holders are.
The website states, “concealed carry permit holders are supposed to be the ‘good guys’ with guns. In reality, far too many permit holders are a direct threat to public safety.” If you’re as intrigued as we were about these numbers, you’ll be interested in what was found when examining the data more closely.
Do America’s 18 Million Concealed Carry Permit Holders Represent a Serious Risk to Public Safety?
First, of the 801 homicide deaths in which the shooter claimed self-defense, 72 are still pending in court. That may seem insignificant, but it’s 5 percent of the total. If you’re going to call this a database of concealed carry killers, the data should be limited to cases that have been adjudicated, removing those pending cases.
Next, 534 of the 1,335 deaths are actually suicides. That accounts for another 40 percent of the deaths in the database. While firearm suicides may be a serious and upsetting issue, including them in a concealed carry killer database doesn’t seem appropriate.
So, with just a cursory look, it appears that 45 percent of the “murders” don’t fit the bill. An additional 37 incidents were fatal unintentional shootings involving the gun of the concealed handgun permit holder and not committed by the actual permit holder.
Other issues with the data include several of the incidents being committed by individuals whose permits were either suspended or should have been suspended. These cases speak more to enforcement than permitting. Also, although some incidents were performed by permit holders, their concealed carry permits were irrelevant, with the incidents happening inside their home — where no permit is needed — or handguns were not used in the event.
Removing the 606 pending cases and suicide deaths, that leaves 729 deaths over the period from 2007 to 2019. That is just 0.6 percent of all firearm-related homicides in that 14-year period. The number of concealed carry permits grew from 4.6 million in 2007 to 18.66 million in that time period. According to FBI crime statistics, firearm homicides per 100,000 people has remained steady at approximately 10.2 in the same time. Considering there are currently more than 18.66 million concealed carry permit holders — which is 7.3 percent of American adults — concealed carry permit holders are disproportionately law-abiding.
One set of statistics the VPC doesn’t maintain is the concealed carry permit holders who have intervened to stop shootings, including mass shootings, where the death toll would likely have been much higher. People like:
- Jay Brown, an IHOP employee in Huntsville, Alabama.
On January 17, 2019, Brown stopped a gunman that had just killed his father in the restaurant, potentially saving many lives. A restaurant patron was proud he took action.
“It’s amazing that he was able to think so quickly on his feet in that situation because I think I probably just would’ve panicked,” Sierra Seay said.
- Less than a month later, concealed handgun permit holder Larry Seagroves came to the aid of individuals at a dentist’s office in Colonial Heights, Tennessee.
A lone gunman had fatally shot his wife and turned his gun to shoot other people present in the office. Seagroves fired on the gunman, wounding him and holding him down until authorities arrived. Sullivan County Sheriff Jeff Cassidy said, “From everything I’ve heard, he was flawless in his execution, his stopping of [and] eliminating the threat, [then] holding the threat down until law enforcement arrived. He was a concealed carry permit holder, and I’m going to call him a hero today.”
Even the killer called Seagroves a hero. “You all wouldn’t be dealing with me right now if the hero hadn’t stepped in,” he told police after the attack.
Unfortunately, this represents just one case of an easily debunked and maliciously deceptive headline. The media (and social media) are rife with a sickening bounty of similar cases. Stay vigilant, know the facts and do your homework. The fight for your rights is real.