For Release: Friday, October 29, 2010
Washington, DC–Connecticut beer truck driver Omar Thornton, who in August shot to death eight co-workers before taking his own life, was a concealed handgun permit holder according to new information obtained under Connecticut’s Freedom of Information Act by the Violence Policy Center (VPC) for the October update to Concealed Carry Killers. In his permit application (http://vpc.org/thorntonpermit.pdf), Thornton listed “job” as the reason for his requiring the permit. Concealed Carry Killers is an on-line VPC resource that tallies news reports of killings by concealed handgun permit holders that have not been determined to be legitimate self defense. According to the October update, concealed handgun permit holders have killed at least 213 individuals since May 2007–including 17 mass shootings claiming a total of 73 lives.
“It is now commonplace for mass shooters to be licensed to carry concealed handguns. It is clear that the licensing systems are completely ineffective at weeding out applicants who are likely to kill in anger rather than self-defense. These dangerous concealed carry laws need to be repealed to save innocent lives,” states VPC Legislative Director Kristen Rand.
Of the 125 incidents in 28 states that resulted in the 213 deaths, in more than half (71 incidents) the concealed handgun permit holder has already been convicted, committed suicide after the incident, or was killed in the incident. Of the 54 cases still pending, the vast majority (44) of concealed handgun permit holders have been charged with criminal homicide, two were deemed incompetent to stand trial, two incidents were unintentional shootings, and six incidents are still under investigation.
A summary of each of the 125 incidents is available at http://concealedcarrykillers.org, clicking on each category leads to a state-by-state breakout for the incidents with current known status. To review all killings by concealed handgun permit holders, click on “Total People Killed by Concealed Handgun Permit Holders.” While the incident summaries of the few concealed handgun permit holders eventually found not guilty are listed on the site, those numbers are not included in the VPC’s totals.
Because most state systems that allow the carrying of concealed handguns in public by private citizens release little data about crimes committed by permit holders, the VPC reviews and tallies concealed handgun permit holder killings primarily as reported by news outlets. It is likely that the actual number of fatal incidents involving concealed handgun permit holders is far higher.