Saturday, April 14, 2018

Junk Science: So called "Studies" Linking Licensed Concealed To High Homicide Rates Are Bogus

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UPDATE 8/7/2018



The Violence Policy Control (VPC) center is at it again.  They are accusing CCW license holders of murdering 1,259 people over a ten year period.  Here is what everyone should know about the VPC and their "research":

1) In the past, the VPC has been caught counting the same incident multiple times (as many as four times)in order to inflate their stats.  They have also been caught counting crimes committed buy people who were carrying firearms illegally, without a license.  In short, they are not a trustworthy source.

2) The VPC is using a multiple year figure in order to come up with a raw figure that runs to four digits.  In reality - even if the VPC's figures are accurate - we are talking about 130 homicides per year out of an annual yearly homicide figure of more than 15,000 per year in the same time frame.  Again, even using the VPCs highly suspect stats, we are talking about 1,259 cases out of over 172,000 homicides during the same period.  This means that - in spite of there being 6-16 million license holders - CCW license holders are responsible for less than .73% of America's homicides.

3) We do not have to rely on the VPCs highly questionable stats.  The state of Texas keeps detailed statistics on its one million license holders.  The VPC ignores these because they do not support their narrative.  Looking at 2016 (the latest year for which full data is available) the US national homicide rate was 5.9 per 100k population.  The rate of homicides among Texas CHL license holders?  0.4 per 100k population.  In other words, according to official government stats, CCW license holders are 15 times less likely to commit homicide than the general public.

Original post:

Anti-gun rights forces increased their attacks on concealed carry in recent weeks.  They cite bogus studies that would never be taken seriously were the subject anything other than firearms.

What's Wrong With These Studies?
(Much more on this topic here)

Cherry Picked Data

In one study, they begin by cherry picking two states: Hawaii (the lowest restrictive carry state) and Louisiana (the highest crime rate with permissive carry laws).  This alone is enough to prove their massive bias.  They ignored several states with permissive (shall issue) carry laws that were safer than Hawaii, and the fact that Washington DC ( a restrictive, "may issue" jurisdiction at the time of the study) has a significantly worse homicide rate than Louisiana.  Click here for a refutation of this so called study.

In another widely quoted study, they use two rural and low crime states combined with California in order to make Texas look bad.  Of course, Texas would not look so bad if directly compared to California.  This same study included decades when carry licenses were not even issued!

Best Data Intentionally Omitted

While these phony studies cherry pick data to imply that CCW permit holders are responsible for higher homicide rates, they intentionally ignore actual, real data.  That's right, we have 30 years worth of data collection on the behavior of all CCW permit holders in the state of Florida (the state with the largest number licensees) and nearly that much data from the state of Texas (the #2 state). Texas has over 1 million licensees and Florida has nearly twice as many at 1,878,666.  This is a huge sample size - 17.5% of the estimated 16 million permits and licenses currently in force in the US.  There can be no doubt that this is the best data available on concealed carry in the United States.

Yet, they completely ignore 30 years worth of accumulated data.  Why?  Because these reports prove that people licensed to carry are actually less likely to commit any serious crime than police officers.  In other words, those doing these studies absolutely know that what they are implying about concealed carry is completely false.  They know that if they were to bring this data in, they could never allege that people licensed to carry increase homicides.  Since the goal is propaganda, not science, they simply ignore or lie about the official data.  Most media outlets are so anti-gun rights that they simply do zero fact checking - and even when they are made aware of the facts, they simply fail to report them.

They Push The Falsehood That Correlation Equals Causation 

None of these so called "studies" come right out and say that people licensed to carry are murderers who are driving up homicide rates.  They don't say it - they just strongly imply it.  Consider this statement: "The study found that states with shall-issue laws had handgun homicide rates that were 10.6 percent higher than may-issue states."  First of all, they reached this conclusion by comparing two cherry picked states.  Second of all, if it is true, it doesn't prove anything.

In my home state, where a permit is not even required to carry a firearm, our homicide rate is very low was 2.9 per 100k in 2016.  California's was 4.9 (almost double ours).  Does this prove that "shall issue" laws reduce homicide rates?  Nope.  This may be true, I certainly want it to be true, but at most, this shows the exact opposite of what the above referenced study shows: Lawful carry can be associated with lower homicide rates.

Here's the problem: Association or correlation does not prove causation.  For instance, even if states with shall issue (or better) concealed carry laws and more people carrying legally were to have more homicides, what is the mechanism?  Is it that permit holders are killing people - or is it that people lobbied lawmakers to allow more people to carry because of the higher homicide rates?  Do more people seek more permits because they are more concerned about the high murder rate?

It's hard to reach any conclusion other than that the "researchers" are being intentionally deceptive.  They have already reached their conclusion before they began.  They are not doing research, they are doing propaganda.  For much more on this, see this post.

What Is The Real Data And What Does It Show?

Let's be clear: None of my data comes from the NRA, or even pro-gun rights researchers.  It comes from the FBI.  It comes from the State of Texas and the State of Florida.

So, what about the claim that "permissive" carry laws are associated with higher rates of violent crime and homicide?  Well, when you look at ALL the data, this simply is not the case.  (Note that I have included states that allow permitless carry in the "shall issue" category for simplicity.)

This is what all the data shows:

It simply is not true that legal concealed carry is associated
with higher rates of homicide - in fact, it is associated with lower rates!
(This is charted by state at the end of this post.)

The same is true of violent crime rates.  (This is also charted by state at the end of this post.)

Let's Consider The Data From Florida

It is very clear that people who are licensed to carry are extremely law abiding.

Here we have over 30 years worth of data, covering 3.8 million licensees.  What does it tell us?

Well, out of of 3.9 million licenses issued, a little more than 13 thousand were revoked for any reason.  That is a revocation rate of 0.35%.

When we look at the revocation rate for firearms related crimes or misconduct, the rate drops to 0.0036%.  Of course, these crimes would include firearms related homicides - but they would also include firearm crimes where no shots were fired, such as brandishing a firearm - or simply carrying a firearm while intoxicated.

Unfortunately, no official stats exist for homicides committed by Florida licensees,  however, Texas does compile this data.  in 2016, four Texas CHL holders committed any category of homicide.  In that same year, Texas licensed it's one millionth person that same year.  So let's do a little math.  That's one homicide for every 250k licensees or 0.4 homicides per 100k.  The homicide rate for the general public in Texas, according to the FBI stats 5.9 per 100k.  This means that, in Texas, people licensed to carry are 15 times less likely to commit a homicide that the general public.

While Florida does not keep homicide stats for people licensed to carry, Texas does.
The rate is incredibly low.

So, with all of this data, how can anyone think that people licensed to carry are responsible for increasing homicide rates?  Well, it's easy if you simply do not know about all of these official stats.  It's also easy if all you have read are cleverly written studies designed to cause you to believe something that is not true.

While it is true that shall issue concealed carry laws are associated with lower rates of homicide and violent crime, as we said, this doesn't prove that they reduce crime.  They may or they may not, but we cannot conclude this from correlation or association alone.  What we can say from this evidence is that people licensed to carry are certainly not responsible for increasing homicides.

50 state homicide data sorted by homicide rate,
with CCW status noted.

50 state violent crime rate, with CCW status.

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