Sustained Outrage

Study: More concealed guns could increase crime

While the National Rifle Association — and its major political supporter, West Virginia Sen. Joe Manchin — continue to fight any effort to crack down on assault weapons, a new public health study offers some interesting points about another gun control issue: Concealed weapons permits. Here’s the abstract of the paper, published this month in the American Journal of Public Health:

 Our results imply that expanding the settings in which concealed carry is permitted may increase the risk of specific types of crimes, some quite serious in those settings. These increased risks may be relatively small. Nonetheless, policymakers should consider these risks when contemplating reducing the scope of gun-free zones.

Over at The Pump Handle blog, Kim Krisberg has more on this study:

The study examined 2001–2009 data from the Texas Department of Public Safety on criminal convictions associated with holders and nonholders of concealed handgun licenses (CHL). It found that concealed handgun license holders were much less likely than those without a license to be convicted of a crime. Also, most non-license holder convictions involved a higher-prevalence crime, such as burglary or robbery, while convictions among license holders were more likely to involve a lower-prevalence crime, such as a sexual offense or an offense involving a death.

The study notes that concealed weapon advocates often cite data examining general crime rates — rates that find license holders are less likely to commit a crime — to argue that concealed handgun licenses are ending up in “safe hands.” This study, however, looks at the data differently: Instead of examining overall crime rates, the authors examine the differences in crime convictions between license holders and non-license holders.

In studying the Texas data, the authors found that the most common criminal convictions among non-license holders were simple assaults, robberies and burglaries, all of which accounted for 70 percent of convictions studied among non-license holders. (For example, robbery and burglary accounted for 22 percent of non-license holder convictions, but only 3 percent of convictions among license holders.) When compared with non-license holders, a higher proportion of license-holder convictions were for sexual offenses, weapons offenses, deadly conduct and offenses involving the intentional killing of a person. (For example, among non-license holders, 7.6 percent of convictions were for sexual offenses, while 17 percent of license-holder convictions were for sexual offenses.)

As policymakers consider expanding the types of places where people can bring concealed weapons, such as in schools or churches, the authors noted that their study results show such a policy change could increase gun-related offenses in previously gun-free zones.

“Holders of a CHL in Texas in 2001 to 2009 were almost universally a law-abiding population, like most individuals who shared their demographic characteristics,” the study authors wrote. “However, in those rare instances when they committed crimes…they were more likely to be convicted for serious weapons-related offenses.”