DISCUSS: Texas A&M Study Examines Link Between Concealed Carry And Crime — Can’t Find One

When you open up Facebook or reddit or any other social media platform and read the headlines, “Study Proves…(blah blah blah)”, you may think to yourself, “oh wow!  Something has been proven/disproven!”

This is great if it’s something you personally believe to be true.  It may be angering when it’s something you don’t want to be true.  That’s called personal bias.  But we’re going to talk about something we all would like to be true: the connection between concealed carry handgun permits and violent crime rates.

Here’s what a lot of concealed carriers want to see:

  • Concealed carriers are an active deterrent against violent criminals because criminals are worried a concealed carrier will attempt to stop them.

Guess what?  Any study claiming that is BS.  And no, not because that statement may or may not be true.  It’s because the data to substantiate that statement does not exist.

Well, one Texas A&M study recently published in the Journal of Criminology takes a look at the rate of concealed carry permits issued across the counties of four states and tries to see if there is a correlation between violent crime and concealed carry permit issuance.

They used statistics provided by the FBI over the period of 1998 to 2010 — 12 years.

The abstract analysis of this is: there is no correlation between the rate of concealed carry issuance and violent crime.

This study compared crime rates with concealed carry handgun permits issued within the counties of Pennsylvania, Florida, Michigan, and Texas.

You know what that means?  Nothing.

We run a concealed carry website.  It would be AWESOME to have a good, solid basis of peer-reviewed, scientific literature telling us what we’d all love to hear — concealed carry reduces violent crime.  The only issue is that IT IS IMPOSSIBLE given the metrics we have in our current society to build that case diametrically from top to bottom.

We can look at FBI statistics and see that there is definitely a decrease reported in overall violent crime and we can look at the statistics showing an increase in concealed carry permit applications and issuances and say, “hey, there’s a connection.”

A connection is not correlation.  A correlation is not causation.

But that connection IS NOT proven.  It can never be proven because that’s not how science works.  Science isn’t there to confirm what we want to hear or dispel what we don’t.  It’s there as a culmination of observation, hypothesis, and dissemination and collection of data to form a logical model.

So the idea that the Journal of Criminology or any other scientific peer-reviewed journal could publish “one study to put the case to rest” is laughably impossible.

What we need is good, impartial research based upon BOTH government numbers provided by the FBI and law enforcement as well as actual data analysis on the ground.  That will build a better picture.

Unfortunately, there’s one thing we’re discounting through all of this: the changing of the times.  The data for this recent study ended in 2010.  A lot of things have happened since 2010, not least of which is the change in overall tempo of our society.  We’ve added an estimated several million more concealed carriers in addition to several states which have gone constitutional carry.

Once a state goes constitutional carry, the numbers are impossible to track.  And arguably, the protection of a person’s privacy trumps anything science seems to be offering so we’re left with the reality that you can have data or you can have absolute privacy but you can’t have both.  And for the states that are more than willing to violate the privacy of their citizens for criminologists?  How comfortable do you — as the concealed carrier — feel with that?

So now we’re left with the discussion:

Do you carry because you believe being a concealed carrier is likely to influence the actions of a violent criminal or do you carry concealed because you want to defend your life from violent aggression?

Let’s hear your thoughts in the comments below.

About James England

James England is a Marine Corps veteran of Operation Iraqi Freedom and has served as a defense contractor in Afghanistan in support of Operation Enduring Freedom. He is currently an advocate for veterans and constitutional carry in the State of New Hampshire. His daily carry is the Glock 19 Gen 4 in an Alien Gear Cloak Tuck 3.0.