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Why a Concealed Carry License Should Not Substitute for the Brady Background Check

The federal government has quietly proposed a little-noticed regulation that will dramatically weaken the Brady Law in 29 states, according to comments filed today by the Violence Policy Center (VPC) opposing the plan.

The draft rule�written by the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms (ATF)�would exempt a gun buyer from the Brady Law's required federal background check if he or she holds a permit to carry concealed weapons under state law. The comments by the VPC argue that states perform inadequate background checks on applicants for concealed-carry permits, allowing buyers with criminal records to purchase guns in many instances.

The Violence Policy Center (VPC) has documented the inadequacy of background checks for concealed carry permit applicants in Florida and Texas, the two most populated states with concealed carry laws. VPC research has demonstrated that: 1) many individuals with criminal records are able to obtain concealed carry licenses; and 2) many concealed carry licensees commit crimes subsequent to licensure yet are able to retain valid concealed carry licenses for months or even years. These flawed background checks in states with concealed carry laws must not be allowed to substitute for the new federal Brady Law background check.


According to the Florida State Division of Licensing, since October 1987 at least 898 concealed carry license holders have had their licenses revoked for crimes committed either prior or subsequent to licensure. VPC analysis of Florida records reveals examples of people who obtained concealed carry licenses, committed serious crimes�yet were able to keep their concealed carry licenses for months. For example:

  • Kenneth M. DeMarco was issued a concealed carry license in January 1995. Yet in February 1985 he had been convicted of felony drug conspiracy charges and sentenced to three years probation. DeMarco's license was finally revoked in May 1996.

  • Douglas E. Barber was issued a Florida concealed carry license in 1987 and had it renewed in 1990 and 1993. In December 1994 Barber was convicted of a sex offense against a child, a felony, and sentenced to two years community control. Barber's license was not revoked until October 1995.

  • Raul Garcia was issued a concealed carry license in November 1992. In October 1993 Garcia was arrested on felony charges of conspiracy to traffic in cocaine and trafficking in cocaine. Garcia was found guilty of both charges in January 1995 and sentenced to five years probation. Garcia's license was revoked 10 months later in November 1995.


VPC analysis of data from the Texas Department of Public Safety suggests that concealed carry licensees may be more prone to firearm-related violations than the general public. The VPC calculated that Texas concealed carry license holders were arrested for weapon-related offenses at rates significantly higher than that of the general population of Texans aged 21 and over. For example:

  • In the first six months of 1997, the weapon-related arrest rate among Texas concealed carry license holders was more than twice as high as that of the general population of Texans aged 21 and over.

The VPC identified a number of cases in which concealed carry license holders were arrested for serious violent crimes:

  • Texas concealed carry license holder Daniel Meehan was convicted of murder on February 5, 1998. The Orange Leader reported that he shot and killed his girlfriend, Selma Pieruccini, with a 9mm pistol. He was sentenced to 99 years in prison.

  • Texas concealed carry license holder Diane James was convicted of aggravated kidnapping on November 21, 1997. She and her husband David assaulted a young woman in her 30s to "train" as a sex slave. The woman escaped with David James in pursuit�he was later shot and killed in a shootout with police. Diane James was sentenced to 15 years in the Texas Department of Criminal Justice Penitentiary.

  • Texas concealed carry license holder Stephen Ray Harrelson received adjudication withheld on the charge of attempted murder in early 1998. Harrelson entered his estranged wife's home and stuck a pistol to her head. Their children were in the home during the incident. After a police pursuit, and subsequent suicide threat by Harrelson, he eventually laid down his weapon and surrendered. He was sentenced to 10 years probation.

The experience of states with concealed carry licensing systems confirms the dangers inherent in allowing state concealed carry licenses to substitute for the new federal Brady Law background check. Concealed carry licensing systems should not be allowed to serve as a huge loophole in the new federal background check.

The following VPC studies are excerpted in this fact sheet:

  • Concealed Carry: The Criminal's Companion, Florida's Concealed Weapons Law�A Model for the Nation? (November 1995)

  • Concealing the Risk: Real-World Effects of Lax Concealed Weapons Laws (1996)

  • License to Kill: Arrests Involving Texas Concealed Handgun License Holders (January 1998)

For information on how to obtain a copy of these studies from the VPC, please go to the Publications Page.

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All contents � 1998 Violence Policy Center