Tom Gabor – Concealed Carry Reciprocity.

In the aftermath of the two deadly mass shootings in Las Vegas and Sutherland Springs, Texas, Congress should be protecting Americans from gun violence by strengthening our gun laws, not weakening them. Instead, in a party line vote last week, the House Judiciary Committee passed the Concealed Carry Reciprocity Act (H.R. 38), a National Rifle Association (NRA) priority.

CCW1If this bill is enacted into law, each state would be required to honor a concealed carry permit issued by another state, even if the permit holder’s state of residence has much lower standards or no permit requirement at all for those carrying concealed weapons. This would be a dangerous law, as it would allow people to seamlessly carry guns across state lines, regardless of the vetting and training required by the state issuing the permit.

It is ironic that during a period in which gun deaths have been increasing and mass shootings are claiming an unprecedented number of victims, our first national law in many years would prioritize the rights of gun owners rather than enhance public safety. It is also a paradox that we would have a national law that, rather than setting a high national standard for individuals who carry lethal weapons, would instead preserve a system of disparate state laws in which the lowest standard would be imposed on all states. The NRA and Republicans also violate conservative doctrine by undermining the right of states to protect their residents through the imposition of rigorous requirements on gun permit applicants.

Asserting federal authority in gun policy might be worth considering if there was compelling evidence that such an approach would improve public safety. However, research clearly shows that increasing gun carrying offers few advantages and imperils public safety. John Donohue at Stanford University has shown that right-to-carry laws have increased state violent crime rates by 15%. An FBI study of 160 active shooter incidents from 2000 to 2013 found that just one of these incidents was stopped by an armed civilian. Louis Klarevas, author of Rampage Nation, found that just one in every 2,000 potential or actual mass shootings is successfully stopped by an armed civilian. Meanwhile, the Violence Policy Center has documented over 1,100 killings by concealed carry permit holders since 2007.

Gun carrying also raises the risks of deadly mistakes and confusion in active-shooter incidents. In 2016, an individual shot five Dallas police officers as the officers were providing security at a rally attended by open-carry activists armed with assault weapons. The police chief stated that these activists impeded responding officers, creating confusion as to who the shooter was and whether there were additional shooters.

Gun carrying also raises the risks of deadly mistakes and confusion in active-shooter incidents. In 2016, an individual shot five Dallas police officers as the officers were providing security at a rally attended by open-carry activists armed with assault weapons. The police chief stated that these activists impeded responding officers, creating confusion as to who the shooter was and whether there were additional shooters.

Currently, 12 states do not require a permit to carry a firearm and about two dozen states require no training in the safe handling and use of firearms.  Even states requiring such training do not approach the standards recommended by experts.  Joseph Vince, a leading national expert,  states that training should include mental preparation, knowledge of the law, judgment, and expertise and familiarity with firearms.  Just a handful of states take training seriously and, under the proposed Concealed Carry Reciprocity Act, they would be forced to allow individuals to bring in guns from states that require no training at all.

With gun violence and mass shootings presenting grave threats to Americans, this bill represents a retreat in standards governing the carrying of guns.  This retreat would ignore the shortcomings of civilian training, as well as polls showing the public’s increasing desire for stricter regulation of firearms.  Congress should reject this bill in favor of one that will actually keep America safe.

Thomas Gabor is author of Confronting Gun Violence in America.  This op-ed was originally published in Fortune Magazine.

17 thoughts on “Tom Gabor – Concealed Carry Reciprocity.

  1. “Currently, Concealed Carry Killers documents 914 incidents in 40 states and the District of Columbia resulting in 1,119 deaths. In 86 percent of the incidents (784) the concealed carry killer committed suicide (399), has already been convicted (309), perpetrated a murder-suicide (58), or was killed in the incident (18)” is a quote from the concealed carry killer website.

    The quote appears to say in 784 incidents the concealed carry killer committed suicide but then has the number 399 in parenthesis like that is the number of the ‘killers’ who did so. Can anyone explain what the site means. How many suicides were the amongst the people who died?

  2. Considering that there are some 14 million concealed carriers in the US, that number of approximately 1000 incidents in about ten years is a tiny amount if you rationalize the incidents to the number of carriers. I think this is one of the few times that John Lott gets it right–concealed carry holders are statistically low risk. That doesn’t mean the current bill before congress is a good idea because it will mean that CHL holders will have a lower bar to hurtle over. Not likely to work in favor of keeping those statistics low.

    That doesn’t negate the rest of this post. There is little evidence that statistically, CHL holders increase public safety. I have to confess that although I downloaded the entire Donohoe paper I have yet to read the whole thing of some 100 pages but I am not sure John clearly identifies WHY there is this correlation. Nor has the paper been published as far as I know–this was essentially a pre-peer review copy. The most likely reason, from my hunch, is more people carrying means more mistakes and more guns left unattended to steal. I’m also not a convert to these huge “synthetic” studies, either. Yet.

      • Yes, gentlemen, there is a good chance the bill will not pass. Khal, you are right that 1,100 deaths over 10 years needs to be placed in context; however, studies show that concealed carry permit holders have also committed other crimes. I will not comment on Lott’s assertions as he has not released his analyses to me when I have requested his data. Bruce, you are correct that, while VPC’s website indicates that suicides are included in the count, I need to examine the number of suicides among the 1,100 deaths. Among the Florida figures, the proportion of suicides was modest relative to homicides.

      • I looked at that site a while back and they had a chart that made it look at least to me like more of the vile concealed carry killers killed themselves than killed anyone else. They were more of a danger to themselves than other people but a small margin. I did not see anything similar on the current version of the site.

  3. Tom,
    If you could go back in time to the mid 90s when some big states .. Fl, Tx, etc were considering going from May issue CHL to Shall issue . after whatever vetting, what would you have told them to expect to happen if they enacted such laws.
    Would you have been right..

    • Hman, I have in mind a far more rigorous vetting than we are doing today. Stay tuned for my upcoming post on licensing.

      • In other words you know that gun crime rates have fallen about 50 percent since these horribly laws were used to rape girls and degrade
        public safety


  4. Bruce,
    For what is worth, having a chl has almost no causal connection to firearm suicide.
    Far more people own pistols than have a CHL and, if the intent is there, long guns do not present much of a barrier to impulsive action.

    • I should have added something about the web site living in sort of an alternate universe or being out of touch with reality. All a concealed carry permit or whatever they call it in a state does is make it legal to carry a weapon around. I see them having little to do with illegal activity. If people have no permit in a state requiring them they might be able to legally put the gun in their trunk to take it to where they want to do something illegal like harm an ex-wife.A permit does not matter.

      • Bruce, There are many instances in which guns are used impulsively, in road rage incidents, fights, and so on. There is a world of difference between carrying a gun and transporting in a trunk in the case of spontaneous uses.

      • Agree about spontaneous uses. I’d love to see a trustworthy study showing the impact concealed carry really makes.

  5. I’m curious about what Tom will post here about licensing or vetting. President Trump talks about extreme vetting and I can never figure out what he is talking about. I also looked into licensing for guns and found this quote at a source I never expected something like it to appear.

    “Most importantly, licensing and registration in America would have little effect on the vast majority of gun violence, such as unintentional gunshot deaths, suicides and the majority of homicides, since most homicides are the result of arguments between people who know each other and who purchase guns legally.”

    Notice the source VPC –

    • Bruce, this is a good question about licensing that I will respond to another time. As far as the research on concealed carry, probably the best source is John Donohue of Stanford University who has found that right-to-carry laws increased gun violence in the average state by about 15%. He followed up each state for about 10 years.

      • Tom: Thanks for the source. Whenever I hear stats like the one you mention I am always curious if the increase in crime is from the ‘concealed carry murderers’ actually shooting people or if something else is going on like more guns stolen from cars outside of the ‘no gun’ places or some other cause.

  6. People who know each other and having an argument is a phrase invented to hide the actuality of drug gangs fighting over a street corner.
    Just by looking at a map with dots for each occurrence you can learn everything.

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.