A three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit shot down the efforts by officials in the nation’s capital to severely restrict concealed carry permits earlier this week, and the nation’s leading researcher on guns says many more people are applying for conceal carry permits and the crime rate among those exercising that right is virtually non-existent.
In response to losing a series of court cases in its ongoing effort to restrict gun ownership in Washington, the city council instituted the “good excuse” rule, by which residents had to give an acceptable reason for why they wanted a concealed carry permit. And living in a crime-ridden neighborhood was not a “good excuse.”
As a result, a microscopic percentage of D.C. residents are legally able to carry a gun outside their homes.
“D.C., at least at the beginning of July, had only issues 124 permits. You have over 500,000 adults in the District. That’s a very tiny rate. If D.C. issued concealed carry permits at the same rate that they’re issued in the 42 right to carry states on average, it would be about 48,000,” said Dr. John Lott, president of the Crime Prevention Research Center and author of multiple books on the subject, including “More Guns, Less Crime.”
The number of permits approved in D.C. might be even smaller if not for the web of political influence.
“The problem is the type of people who get permits here are well-to-do, very politically connected individuals,” said Lott.
He says there are a lot of Washington residents who need the right to bear arms a lot more than those people.
“My research, if it shows me anything, is those aren’t the people who need them the most. The people who benefit the most from having concealed carry are people most likely to be victims of violent crime and those tend to be poor blacks who live in high crime areas. The other groups that tends to benefit the most are women and the elderly,” said Lott.
Lott’s research says those are exactly the groups showing a major change of heart on gun ownership and possession. Since 2012, he says there’s been a 22 percent rise in men applying for concealed carry permits, while there’s been a 93 percent spike among women, many of them minorities.
“There’s been a sea change in women’s views and blacks’ views about guns. We’ve seen polls indicating they believe that guns are more likely to protect them than to cause problems for them,” said Lott.
“In 2007, there were 4.6 million concealed handgun permits. Now it’s 16.3 million. But even that almost four-fold increase underestimates the change because in just the last two years, you’ve had eight states which have adopted so-called constitutional carry laws. You don’t even need a permit to carry,” said Lott.
Far from concealed carry permits turning our streets and neighborhoods into the Wild West, Lott says permit holders almost never commit crimes.
“One of the other things we found in our report is how incredibly law-abiding permit holders were. Police are rarely convicted of crimes, but permit holders are convicted of any crime at about one-sixth the rate that police officers are,” said Lott.
Some in the gun rights community argue that open carry is the more accurate interpretation of the right to keep and bear arms but Lott says concealed carry actually makes life tougher for criminals because those intending to do harm can seek out police or anyone else who is obviously armed and attack them first. With concealed carry, Lott says the criminal has no idea who might stop him at any point.