For Release: Wednesday, May 31, 2023
Washington, DC — Innocent victims continue to die at the hands of private citizens with permits to carry concealed handguns, according to ongoing research from the Violence Policy Center (VPC). Concealed handgun permit holders are responsible for at least 2,490 deaths not involving self-defense since 2007, VPC research shows. Details on these fatal incidents can be found on Concealed Carry Killers (concealedcarrykillers.org), an ongoing online resource that provides examples of non-self defense killings involving private citizens with permits to carry concealed handguns in public.
Overall, Concealed Carry Killers documents 2,231 fatal, non-self defense incidents since May 2007 in 40 states and the District of Columbia, resulting in the deaths of 2,490 people. Thirty-seven of the incidents were fatal mass shootings as defined by federal law (three or more victims killed), resulting in the deaths of 183 victims. At least 24 law enforcement officers have died at the hands of concealed carry killers since May 2007.
VPC Government Affairs Director Kristen Rand states, “Concealed carry permit holders are supposed to be the ‘good guys with guns,’ but actual real-world experience consistently reveals the opposite to be true. The great experiment that began in Florida in the 1990s of allowing guns in public spaces can now be declared a proven failure.”
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 along with the limited information collected by a few states. Hence, they likely represent a small 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.
While advocates for increased carrying of firearms argue that concealed carry permit holders are “good guys” with guns, information from the few states that collect data on incidents involving concealed handgun permit holders reveals that in reality, far too many permit holders are a direct threat to public safety:
In the vast majority of the 2,231 incidents documented in Concealed Carry Killers (2,104, or 94 percent), the concealed carry permit holder either committed suicide (1,505), has already been convicted (512), perpetrated a murder-suicide (64), or was killed in the incident (23). Of the 87 cases still pending, the vast majority (72) of concealed carry killers have been charged with criminal homicide, five were deemed incompetent to stand trial, and 10 incidents are still under investigation. An additional 40 incidents were fatal unintentional shootings involving the gun of the concealed handgun permit holder.
Where information is available, Concealed Carry Killers includes a detailed narrative of the incident, 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 2017 study from Stanford University concludes that state concealed carry laws are linked to an increase in violent crime.
And the March 2023 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 2019, there were only 316 justifiable homicides involving a private citizen using a firearm. That same year, there were 9,610 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.”