Gun Violence Prevention FAQs
Explore the other fact sheets in this series.
This fact sheet will be updated from time to time for new policy developments. It was last updated on May 2, 2022.
What is Permitless Carry?
Permitless carry refers to a series of laws that allow individuals to carry a loaded, concealed handgun in public without prior background checks, obtaining a license, or receiving any firearm training. These laws reflect a relatively recent trend in which states are removing or weakening permitting standards for concealment.1
On April 12, 2022, Georgia became the 25th state to legislate eliminating permit requirements for concealed carry.2 And the 21st state to do so in the last seven years.3 Similar bills are pending in at least five state assemblies.4
This movement toward permitless carry represents a major step forward for public safety and responsible gun ownership.
How does permitless carry affect public safety?
Permitless carry harms public safety by removing essential safety measures designed to ensure that those carrying handguns in public are appropriately trained and vetted. Evidence overwhelmingly suggests that removing the concealed carry permit system is associated with higher rates of gun homicide and violent crime. For example, when Arizona repealed its concealed carry requirement in 2010, there was an 11 percent increase in gun injuries and deaths and a 24 percent increase in the likelihood that a person involved in a violent crime would be fatally will be shot.5 Recently, GVPedia researchers found that states that have permitless carry laws have seen a 22 percent increase in gun homicides for the three years following the law’s passage.6
Permission requirements serve as necessary safeguards, ensuring that people prohibited from possessing handguns are not able to carry a loaded firearm in public. In 2020, 5,292 concealed carry licenses were denied in Georgia because of a history of criminal or mental health issues.7 During the same year, Wisconsin rejected 4,161 concealed carry applications, with criminal history being the most frequent disallowing factor.8
Fair enough, of the 25 states that now allow a concealed carry handgun in public without permit requirements, all but one allow the purchase of a handgun without a required background check. This means that 24 states currently allow residents to buy and hide loaded weapons in public without any background checks.9
What is the public consensus on permitless carry?
Laws that repeal permission and background check requirements for concealed carry are highly unpopular among the public. According to a national survey conducted by the Johns Hopkins Center for Gun Policy and Research, 83 percent of gun owners agree that in public concealment, a person needs to first pass a safety test that determines legitimate gun use. displays to.10
This claim is supported by an earlier 2015 survey that found 88 percent of Americans agree to the concealed carry permit requirements.1 1 Recently, polling in Georgia found that 70 percent of voters, including more than 50 percent of Republicans, support covert carry licensing requirements,12 Whereas data from Ohio found that more than 60 percent of voters opposed legislation that would remove existing permitting requirements.13
Permitless Carry: By the Numbers
Gun homicides on the rise three years after states passed permitless carry laws
Death toll from fatal gun incidents at the hands of covert carry permit holders since May 2006
Percentage of Americans Who Agree to Covert Carry Permitting Requirements
Number of states that currently allow residents to buy and hide loaded weapons in public without a background check
In addition to being unpopular with the public, laws repealing permitting standards are also counterproductive among local and national law enforcement. Indeed, police agencies across the country support the licensing system. For example, law enforcement agencies in Ohio14 and Indiana15 recently came out against efforts to remove concealed carry permit requirements in their respective states. Similar objections to the permitless carry law were echoed by officials and law enforcement agencies in Georgia,16 texas,17 alabama,18 louisiana,19 and Tennessee.20
However, all but one of these states continued to enact permitless carry laws, despite protests by law enforcement agencies and the public.21
Are there arguments in favor of permitless carry based on evidence?
No. Arguments in support of permitless carry are based on myths perpetuated by the National Rifle Association (NRA).
The section below debunks several common myths:
1. Easing gun restrictions does not reduce crime, and an armed society is not safe
Academic research indicates that weak permission requirements increase crime.22 In perhaps the most comprehensive study on the relationship between violent crime and weak permitting standards, economist John Donohue found that violent crime rates increased each year after states adopted right-to-carry (RTC) laws.23 In addition, Donohue found that states that have weakened their gun permitting systems saw handgun homicide and violent crime rates increase by 11 percent and 13 to 15 percent, respectively; The adoption of the RTC laws, meanwhile, was linked to a 10 percent higher murder rate 10 years after their passage.24
The evidence is clear: guns in public places pose a threat to public safety and increase the risk of violent confrontation.
This is in line with findings from a previous study in 2017 that found that RTC laws were associated with a 10.6 percent increase in handgun homicide, an 8.6 percent increase in firearm homicide, and a 6.5 percent increase in overall homicide rates.25 Alternatively, states with stronger permitting systems saw less crime: The researchers found that law enforcement was empowered to exercise discretion when concealed carry permit issuers compared to those not allowed that discretion. experienced an 11 percent lower homicide rate.26
Furthermore, this myth of the increased security of an armed society can be easily debunked by examining the relationship between gun ownership and homicide in the United States. The US has the highest level of gun ownership in the world; However, it has a murder rate that is on average 25 times higher than other peer developed countries.27 If an armed society were truly a safe society, the United States would have lower rates of gun violence than its counterparts.
2. Defensive gun use is not widespread
Another common myth – often referred to as “a good man with a gun” – claims that there are about 2.5 million cases of defensive gun use per year, making defensive gun incidents more frequent than gun crimes. are four to five times more common.28
Yet this statement is untrue, as the number in question has been seriously opposed. In 1997, Harvard scholars debunked this myth, finding that defensive gun use was much less common than the claimed 2.5 million cases, largely attributed to research design flaws and data inconsistencies. attributed to overestimation.29 A more accurate depiction of defensive gun use in the United States comes from the Gun Violence Archive, which estimates that there are approximately 2,000 verified cases of defensive gun use annually, far fewer than the 2.5 million cases claimed by the gun lobby.30
Not only does research show that guns are rarely used in self-defense, but there is also no evidence that guns enhance personal safety during criminal assault. In contrast, Harvard University researchers found that the likelihood of injury during a crime was roughly the same in cases where a gun was used in self-defense and in cases where no defensive measures were taken.31
Additional survey data found that less than 1 percent of contact crimes involve defensive gun use,32 And most self-reported defensive gun use is in violation of the law.33 In this regard, research collected by the Violence Policy Center shows that since May 2006, more than 2,000 people have died from fatal gun incidents at the hands of covert carry permit holders.34 This includes 37 mass shootings, 64 homicide-suicides and 24 law enforcement homicides.35
3. Gun-Free Zones Don’t Attract Mass Shootings
Advocates of permitless carry often claim that gun-free zones endanger society by attracting mass shootings.36 However, this claim is false: an analysis of 133 mass shootings from 2009 to 2015 found that 95 shootings occurred in private homes, compared to 21 in areas where concealed guns were permitted and 17 in gun-free public spaces. Went.37 In addition, an examination of 111 mass shootings from 1996 to 2015 found zero incidents in which an armed civilian prevented an active shooting.38
Additionally, FBI data on active shooter incidents showed that only 1 in 160 mass shootings by a person with a valid firearms permit was prevented. In contrast, 21 incidents were prevented by unarmed civilians.39
The push in state law to remove permitless carrying and subsequent permit requirements is not only detrimental to public safety efforts; It is also rooted in misinformation. Permission standards are in place to ensure that concealed weapons in public are properly trained and pose no danger to themselves or others. Yet when states allow carrying without permission, those safety measures disappear, allowing anyone to carry a firearm in public, even if they are safe and legally able to handle a firearm. regardless of capacity. The evidence is clear: guns in public places pose a threat to public safety and increase the risk of violent confrontation.