Study: easy to obtain concealed handguns permits don’t increase violent crime

A new study purports no significant link between slack concealed carry laws and violent crime rates.

Researchers from the Virginia Tech Carilion School of Medicine and Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota, presented their findings at this year’s Clinical Congress ahead of the article’s publication in the Journal of the American College of Surgeons next year.

“We found no relationship between the type of concealed carry process or the general permissiveness of the process and increased rates of homicide or other violent crime,” Dr. Mark Hamill, lead author on the study, told the ACS during his Oct. 22 presentation.

The team analyzed federal data collected from the U.S. Department of Justice Uniform Crime Reporting Program and Center for Disease Control between 1986 and 2015, comparing state-level results to concealed carry legislation on a sliding scale including “no carry,” “may issue,” “shall issue” and “unrestricted carry.”

“There has been a trend in all states over the past 30 years toward less restrictive concealed carry,” Hamill said. “Changes to concealed carry legislation likely won’t reduce firearm violence.”

Dr. Stephen Markowiak, lead author, described the ensuing results as unexpected. “We definitely found some of the factors surprising, particularly related to the legal aspects. The states that were more urban, and anecdotally more liberal, had both stronger gun laws, but also more instances of mass shooting events.

Hamill, a former police officer and member of Doctors for Responsible Gun Ownership, said he advocates for unbiased research focused on keeping guns out of the wrong hands —  a place he often found them while patrolling the streets of Brooklyn in the 1990s.

“I saw that it’s not the people who legally own firearms who are the problem. It’s the people who use firearms for nefarious purposes that are the problem. So how do we keep the guns out of those hands?” he said. “We need to pursue people who fail background checks. We need to pursue straw purchases, where someone intentionally purchases a gun for someone who is disqualified. These laws aren’t consistently enforced.”

He said physicians only accept high-quality, unbiased research when making clinical care decisions. “We shouldn’t accept lower-quality evidence to make policy decisions than we would to take care of our own patients,” he said.

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