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Concealed Carry Killers

For each of the five gray boxes below, CLICK on the box for each category to be linked to a PDF document that contains detailed vignettes from news reports describing the circumstances for each non-self defense killing by a private citizen legally allowed to carry a concealed handgun. The examples are listed in alphabetical order by state. A listing for all incidents organized alphabetically by state can be found by clicking on "Total People Killed by Concealed Carry Killers." For PDFs of all incidents broken out by state, follow this link.

No comprehensive data exists on non-self defense killings by private citizens legally allowed to carry concealed handguns. Concealed Carry Killers offers examples from May 2007 to the present of such incidents, which are taken from news reports and the limited state data available. These examples are only an unknown fraction of the unreported number of similar incidents that routinely occur across the nation.

Currently, Concealed Carry Killers documents 493 incidents in 36 states and the District of Columbia resulting in 659 deaths. In 83 percent of the incidents (408) the concealed carry killer committed suicide (190), has already been convicted (164), perpetrated a murder-suicide (40), or was killed in the incident (14). Of the 67 cases still pending, the vast majority (58) of concealed carry killers have been charged with criminal homicide, five were deemed incompetent to stand trial, and four incidents are still under investigation. An additional 18 incidents were fatal unintentional shootings involving the gun of the concealed handgun permit holder. At least 15 of the victims were law enforcement officers. Twenty-nine of the incidents were mass shootings, resulting in the deaths of 134 victims.

The graph below shows the status of incidents documented in Concealed Carry Killers:


Background

In 1996 at a Dallas, Texas, press conference, Tanya Metaksa, then the executive director of the National Rifle Association's Institute for Legislative Action, promised, "As we get more information about right-to-carry, our point is made again and again...People who get permits in states which have fair right-to-carry laws are law-abiding, upstanding community leaders who merely seek to exercise their right to self-defense." This assertion, summarized by Metaksa in the blunt and absolute assertion that "these citizens don't commit violent crimes," was a key factor when state legislatures debated weakening concealed weapons laws to allow private citizens to carry concealed handguns in public. Had the NRA informed policymakers that concealed handgun permit holders would routinely be killing law enforcement personnel and perpetrating, rather than preventing, mass murders and other gun homicides few legislators--applying Metaksa's own standard--would have voted in favor of such laws.

These unfounded assertions are repeated to this day. In a September 28, 2010, opinion piece on Foxnews.com, concealed carry advocate John Lott asserted, "Fears about accidents and rampages by permit holders, and blood running in the streets however never materialized where concealed carry has been allowed."

Such false claims are endlessly repeated by pro-gun advocates in their ongoing efforts to expand the carrying of concealed handguns into bars, churches, schools, and places of employment. In addition, the gun lobby has been successful at hiding the truth about crimes committed by concealed handgun permit holders by forcing most states to keep secret the identities of permit holders. As a result, until recently, the false claims made by pro-gun advocates regarding these "upstanding community leaders" have been left unchallenged.

In 2009, the Violence Policy Center began an ongoing research project to identify killings from May 2007 to the present involving citizens legally allowed to carry concealed handguns. Because detailed information on such killings is not readily available, the VPC is forced to rely primarily on news accounts for reports of such killings and subsequent legal proceedings.

Above is the current tally from May 2007 to the present of killings involving persons with concealed carry permits or who committed a killing in public with a legal handgun in a state that allows concealed carry without a permit (Alaska, Arizona, and Vermont allow the carrying of concealed handguns without a permit). The killings are broken out by specific categories and a killing may fit into more than one category. Because the VPC relies primarily on news reports for the majority of incidents, the actual numbers are most likely far higher. This tally is updated regularly. Clicking on each category's tally will link you to vignettes describing the circumstances for each killing, listed by state. The descriptions also include the current, known status of any charges filed against the permit holder as well as noting instances where the perpetrator committed suicide.

The Violence Policy Center welcomes any new information regarding the status of any case (with verifiable source(s)). Any new information or corrections to the information contained in the database will be posted in the next update.

Use this link to contact the VPC: http://www.vpc.org/contact.htm.

Last updated: August 21, 2014

 
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