Concealed Carry Facts and Fiction

The concept of allowing citizens to arm themselves to protect their families and communities spurs much debate. Is the U.S. a safer place with or without concealed and constitutional carry legislation? The research may surprise you.

"Concealed carry laws and constitutional (permitless) carry laws increase crime."


While this may be a completely legitimate concern, the data gathered regarding violent crimes perpetrated with guns from pre- and post constitutional (permitless) carry laws and shall-issue laws tells us otherwise.

Pre- and Post- Shall-Issue Concealed Carry in Florida

The following data has been taken from a research study entitled, “Shall Issue”: The New Wave of Concealed Handgun Permit Laws, by Clayton E. Cramer & David B. Kopel, October 1994. From the enactment of the 1987 Florida carry reform until August 31, 1992, the Dade County permit incident tracking project provided the most detailed information available about actual incidents involving carry permit holders. The tracking program had been created as a result of intense fears among some police administrators about the consequences of the carry reform law. The Dade police kept detailed records of all arrest and non-arrest incidents involving permit holders in Dade County.

Officials abandoned the tracking program in the fall of 1992 because of the rarity of incidents involving carry permit holders and the greatly diminished concern about the issue on the part of law enforcement administrators.

There are lots of people, including myself, who thought things would be a lot worse as far as that particular situation [carry reform] is concerned. I’m happy to say they’re not.

Rep. Ron Silver, the leading opponent of Florida’s carry reform in November 1990

I haven’t seen where we have had any instance of persons with permits causing violent crimes, and I’m constantly on the lookout.

John Fuller, general counsel for the Florida Sheriffs Assoc. from “Police Say Concealed Weapons Law Has Not Brought Rise in Violence,” Palm Beach Post, July 26, 1988

The Florida/Dade reports show the following (click here for more details):

  • A total of 6 permit holders were convicted of perpetrating crimes with firearms;
  • Just 13 permit holders used their firearms to thwart or attempt to thwart crimes; and
  • There was no known incident of a permit holder intervening in an incompetent or dangerous manner, such as shooting an innocent bystander by mistake.

I haven’t seen where we have had any instance of persons with permits causing violent crimes, and I’m constantly on the lookout.

John Fuller, general counsel for the Florida Sheriffs Assoc. from “Police Say Concealed Weapons Law Has Not Brought Rise in Violence,” Palm Beach Post, July 26, 1988

Maine Now Rated The Safest

More recently in 2019, The Maine Examiner reported residents of the state have been allowed to carry a concealed firearm without any special permit since 2015: four years after allowing the universal ‘concealed carry’ law, Maine was rated the safest state in the nation for crime. In fact, The U.S. News and World Report published an article regarding the public safety rankings for each state based on the FBI’s latest available data. The study found that the top three states for public safety are Maine, Vermont, and New Hampshire. All three are constitutional/permitless carry states, which means no permit is required to carry a loaded handgun in most public places, openly, or concealed. In addition, the study shows that five of the top ten are constitutional carry states, with Idaho and Wyoming being the additional two states.

"Murder rates increase with the number of concealed carry permits."


Analysis of murder rates indicates that these fears have been unfounded. The issuing of concealed carry permits has not led to an increased homicide rate.


More data from the research study entitled, “Shall Issue”: The New Wave of Concealed Handgun Permit Laws, by Clayton E. Cramer & David B. Kopel, October 1994 reveals Florida’s murder rate throughout the period 1975-1986 was between 118 percent and 157 percent of the murder rate elsewhere in America. After passage of Florida’s shall-issue concealed carry law, the murder rate began declining rapidly at a time when the rest of the U.S. was experiencing an increase in murder rates. So, a murder rate that was 36 percent above the national average when carry reform went into effect in 1987, fell by 1991 to 4 percent below the national average.


On June 29, 2017, the Milwaukee police union president spoke about how law-abiding concealed carry permit holders are indicating that the police had not arrested “even one” since 2011 when Wisconsin’s shall-issue process was instituted.


Much more recently, in June 2018,  a Chicago Tribune article reported that Lt. Matthew Boerwinkle, a spokesman for the Illinois state police stated, “You rarely hear an instance where a CCL holder is using their firearm in an unlawful manner. They’re generally law-abiding citizens, and they’ve gone to great lengths to get to where they’re at to have a CCL. And they’ve taken training to get there. And most of them, they understand what the requirements are to use force to defend themselves.” Per John Lott of the Crime Prevention Research Center, as of 2018, four years into “a right-to-carry law, Illinois has over 310,000 permit holders — about 3.3 percent of the adult population. By July 29, 2014, Illinois had issued 68,549 licenses. From 2014 to 2018, Illinois had an average of over 189,000 active permits. Over that same period, no one has been convicted of committing a crime with his permitted concealed handgun. Five individuals face charges, and four of them may have used their guns in self-defense (details about each case can be found at the above referenced link). It is quite common for arrests to be made in cases of legitimate self-defense, and charges usually end in a ‘not guilty’ verdict when they are even brought. Two of the permit holders listed by the Tribune face firearms charges, but not for anything pertaining to concealed carry. So in Illinois, there have been zero convictions for crimes committed with a permitted concealed handgun.”

Felons Really Don’t Want to Get Shot

Noted in “Armed and Considered Dangerous: A Survey of Felons and Their Firearms,” 1994, Professors James D. Wright and Peter Rossi performed research for the National Institute of Justice. The pair interviewed and polled felony prisoners in 10 state correctional systems. Fifty-six percent of the prisoners said that a criminal would not attack a potential victim whom they knew to be armed. Thirty-nine percent of the felons had personally decided not to commit a crime because they thought the victim might have a gun, and 8 percent said that this had happened “many times.” Criminals in states with higher civilian gun ownership rates worried the most about armed victims.

Questions: How many concealed carry permit holders are charged with crimes committed with a concealed handgun? In Illinois?

Answers: 0.59 per 100,000 in the U.S.
0.63 per 100,000 in Illinois

Major Research Reports

Analysis of State Homicide Data

As reported in “Concealed Carry Permit Holders Across the U.S.,” 2018, carry laws appear not to have a noticeable impact on the homicide rate in most states (Florida, perhaps, excepted).

Some criminologists have suggested that the state of the economy has a significant impact on murder rates, and that the mass media’s glorification of violence plays some significant role in promoting brutality.

Nearly all criminologists agree that demographics play a crucial role in crime rates. As the percentage of the population in its late teens and early twenties increases, so will murder rates. Males in this age group are disproportionately involved in violent crime. (About 50 percent of murderers are under 25.)

It is also important to recognize the dramatic effects that a small number of murderers can have in less populous states. The murder rates of West Virginia, Idaho and Montana vary dramatically from year to year. Because the populations are small, one serious criminal can dramatically raise the murder rate one year. The rate drops greatly when he is caught or moves on. As a result, more populous states provide more useful data to judge the effects of shall-issue laws. “Shall Issue”: The New Wave of Concealed Handgun Permit Laws, by Clayton E. Cramer & David B. Kopel, 1994.

Of the various alternatives to preventing mass public shootings, law enforcement officers believe that civilian concealed carry is the most effective.

Gun Policy & Law Enforcement, PoliceOne, March 2013.

“Concealed carry permit holders stop crime.”


There are many reports of concealed carry permit holders stopping crimes, including mass murderers.

Trouble at IHOP

On January 17, 2019, Jay Brown, an IHOP employee in Huntsville, Alabama, stopped a gunman who had just killed Brown’s father in the restaurant, potentially saving many lives. Another 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.

Dental Office Dilemma

On February 13, 2019, concealed handgun permit holder Larry Seagroves came to the aid of individuals at a dentist 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 shot 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, eliminating the threat, 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.

More Facts

On April 3, in Duquesne, Pennsylvania, an elderly taxi driver picked up a passenger who, during the ride, proceeded to pull out a gun and demanded money from him. The passenger didn’t know that the driver had a concealed carry permit and was armed with his own handgun. The driver shot and killed the passenger in self-defense. The CPRC maintains a webpage devoted to documenting cases of concealed handgun permit holders stopping mass public shootings and other mass attacks.

In a survey of more than 15,000 law enforcement officers, 91 percent said concealed carry should be permitted to citizens without question and without further restrictions.

Gun Policy & Law Enforcement, PoliceOne, March 2013

“Concealed carry permit holders will commit crimes”


The minimum age to obtain a concealed handgun license (CHL) in Texas is 21. A study found the following data regarding Texas men and women over the age of 21.

By The Numbers

  • The average male is 18 times more likely to be arrested for committing a non-violent crime than the average male CHL holder.
  • The average male is 7.7 times more likely to be arrested for committing a violent crime than the average male CHL holder.
  • The average female is 13 times more likely to be arrested for committing a non-violent crime than the average female CHL holder.
  • The average female is 7.5 times more likely to be arrested for committing a violent crime than the average female CHL holder.

An Analysis of the Arrest Rate of Texas Concealed Carry Handgun License Holders as Compared to the Arrest Rate of the Entire Texas Population 1996 – 1998, Revised to Include 1999 and 2000 Data”  — William E. Sturdevant, 2000

John Lott, president of the Crime Prevention Research Center, compared the behavior of CCW holders to police. He concluded that, “concealed handgun permit holders are extremely law-abiding.” And added, “In Florida and Texas, permit holders are convicted of misdemeanors and felonies at 1/6 of the rate at which police officers are convicted.” Among police, firearms violations occur at a rate of 16.5 per 100,000 officers. Among permit holders in Florida and Texas, the rate [of firearms violations] is only 2.4 per 100,000. That is just 1/7 of the rate for police officers. In addition, misdemeanors which cost permit holders their licenses might have been speeding violations or other simple violations having nothing to do with violence or concealed carry. So CCW holders are likely even more law-abiding than these numbers suggest.

Although too small of a small sample size to provide much statistical significance, the FBI analyzed 50 active-shooter incidents from 2016 and 2017. In 10 incidents, citizens confronted the shooter. In eight of those incidents, one or more citizens safely and successfully acted to end the shooting.

  • In four incidents, unarmed citizens confronted or persuaded the shooter to end the shooting. Twice, school staff confronted and restrained the shooter. In one incident, a citizen used his car to thwart the shooter. Another citizen persuaded a shooter to surrender during a police chase; she ran up to the shooter’s car as he came to a stop and pulled him out of his seat, bringing the chase to an end.
  • In four incidents, citizens possessing valid firearms permits successfully stopped the shooter. Twice, citizens exchanged gunfire with the shooter. In the other two incidents, the citizens held the shooter at gunpoint until law enforcement arrived.
  • In one incident, a citizen possessing a valid firearms permit exchanged gunfire with the shooter, causing the shooter to flee to another scene and continue shooting.
  • In one incident, a citizen possessing a valid firearms permit was wounded before he could fire at the shooter.

“More Guns, Less Crime: Concealed-Carry Permit Holders More Law-abiding Than Police”, The New American, Bob Adelmann, February 14, 2019

True Story From a USCCA Member

This Attorney Was Beaten Within an Inch of His Life — Now Gives a Voice to the Good Guys

A group of friends were confronted and surrounded by multiple men in an alley. Not knowing whether they were going to live or die, and after being beaten and having a gun put to their heads — the emotional scars of this incident still haunt USCCA Network Attorney Dave McDermott. Today this harrowing story still guides him in his purpose to help others.