Tree of Life Synagogue Attack is 32nd Mass Shooting by a Concealed Handgun Permit Holder

For Release: Tuesday, October 30, 2018

Washington, DC — Saturday’s assault rifle attack at the Tree of Life synagogue in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania—which left 11 dead and six injured, including four law enforcement officers—is the most recent mass shooting perpetrated by a concealed handgun permit holder. Since 2007, at least 32 mass shootings (three or more fatalities) have been committed by concealed handgun permit holders across the nation. For a detailed list of lethal mass shootings involving permit holders, please see

This, and additional information, is contained in the most recent update to the Violence Policy Center’s (VPC) ongoing Concealed Carry Killers project, (, an online resource that provides examples of non-self defense killings involving private citizens with permits to carry concealed handguns in public.

“The gun lobby’s answer to mass shootings is always the same: more armed citizens. In reality, too often it is the supposed ‘good guy’ with a concealed handgun permit who actually perpetrates the mass shooting. It is long past time to reevaluate the wisdom of arming private citizens to carry guns in our public spaces,” states VPC Legislative Director Kristen Rand.

Overall, Concealed Carry Killers documents 1,069 fatal, non-self defense incidents since May 2007 in 40 states and the District of Columbia, resulting in the deaths of 1,289 people. Thirty-two of the incidents were fatal mass shootings as defined by federal law (three or more victims), resulting in the deaths of 158 victims. At least 21 law enforcement officers have died at the hands of concealed carry killers since May 2007.

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 in 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.

In the vast majority of the 1,069 incidents documented in Concealed Carry Killers (968, or 91 percent), the concealed carry permit holder either committed suicide (533), has already been convicted (357), perpetrated a murder-suicide (59), or was killed in the incident (19). Of the 66 cases still pending, the vast majority (54) of concealed carry killers have been charged with criminal homicide, five were deemed incompetent to stand trial, and seven incidents are still under investigation. An additional 35 incidents were fatal unintentional shootings involving the gun of the concealed handgun permit holder.

Concealed Carry Killers includes detailed narratives for the majority of the 1,069 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 2017 study from Stanford University concludes that state concealed carry laws are linked to an increase in violent crime.

And a September 2018 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. In 2015, for every justifiable homicide in the United States involving a gun, guns were used in 34 criminal homicides. In 2015, there were only 265 justifiable homicides involving a private citizen using a firearm. That same year, there were 9,027 criminal firearm homicides, based on data from the Federal Bureau of Investigation Uniform Crime Reporting Program’s Supplementary Homicide Report. This ratio does not even take into account the tens of thousands of lives lost in gun suicides and unintentional shootings that year.

Additional information, including a state-by-state breakdown of fatal incidents involving concealed carry killers, is available at To review all deaths involving concealed carry killers, click on “Total People Killed by Concealed Carry Killers.”



The Violence Policy Center is a national educational organization working to stop gun death and injury. Follow the VPC on TwitterFacebook, and Instagram.

Media Contact:
Georgia Seltzer
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