For Release: Wednesday, October 14, 2015
Washington, DC — State laws allowing private citizens to carry concealed handguns in public have done little to keep us safer and instead expose the public to more danger, ongoing research from the Violence Policy Center (VPC) finds.
Since 2007, the VPC has identified at least 579 fatal, non-self defense incidents involving concealed carry permit holders nationwide, a number that likely represents a fraction of the actual total.
Details on these fatal incidents can be found on Concealed Carry Killers (concealedcarrykillers.org), an online resource that provides examples of non-self defense killings involving private citizens with permits to carry concealed handguns in public. Information on these incidents is organized by state.
Overall, Concealed Carry Killers documents 579 fatal incidents since May 2007 in 38 states and the District of Columbia, resulting in the deaths of 763 people. Twenty-nine of the incidents were mass shootings as defined by federal law (three or more victims), resulting in the deaths of 139 victims. At least 17 law enforcement officers died at the hands of concealed carry killers since May 2007.
“Far more often than they use their guns to kill in self-defense, concealed handgun permit holders kill themselves or others,” states VPC Legislative Director Kristen Rand. “The tragic incidents documented month by month in Concealed Carry Killers should put an end to the gun industry myth that concealed carry permit holders increase public safety.”
Because there is no comprehensive recordkeeping of deaths involving concealed handgun permit holders and many states in fact bar the release of such information, the examples on Concealed Carry Killers are taken primarily from news reports and most likely represent a fraction of actual events.
Concealed Carry Killers does not include the small number of incidents that are eventually determined to involve self-defense or where no verdict is reached at trial. All such incidents are removed from the database’s ongoing totals.
In the vast majority of the 579 incidents documented in Concealed Carry Killers (485, or 84 percent), the concealed carry permit holder either committed suicide (223), has already been convicted (197), perpetrated a murder-suicide (48), or was killed in the incident (17). Of the 73 cases still pending, the majority (63) of concealed carry killers have been charged with criminal homicide, four were deemed incompetent to stand trial, and six incidents are still under investigation. An additional 21 incidents were fatal unintentional shootings involving the gun of the concealed handgun permit holder.
Concealed Carry Killers includes detailed information for the majority of the 579 incidents, including (if available) the age of the perpetrator and the victim(s), the weapon used, the relationship(s) of those involved in the killing, and motives for the killing when stated.
Below is a chart showing the status of all concealed carry killers since May 2007:
The findings of Concealed Carry Killers are consistent with the latest academic research, which shows that state laws allowing concealed handguns in public do not increase public safety — in fact, they do the opposite. A recent study from Stanford University concludes that state concealed carry laws actually lead to an increase in violent crime.
And a recent VPC study, Firearm Justifiable Homicides and Non-Fatal Self-Defense Gun Use, shows it is extremely rare for private citizens to use guns in justifiable homicides. The study found that in 2012, there were only 259 justifiable homicides involving a private citizen using a firearm. That same year, there were 8,342 criminal firearm homicides, based on data from the Federal Bureau of Investigation Uniform Crime Reporting Program’s Supplementary Homicide Report.
Additional information, including a state-by-state breakdown of fatal incidents involving concealed carry killers, is available at concealedcarrykillers.org. To review all deaths involving concealed carry killers, click on “Total People Killed by Concealed Carry Killers.”