Law \ Legal

Do Concealed-Carry Laws Affect Crime Rates? Evidence is Inconclusive: Researcher

Despite 25 years of research, the impact of right-to-carry laws on crime remains inconclusive, argues a new paper.

“That in itself should be somewhat encouraging to the states that now must grant
concealed-carry permits more freely,” writes Robert VerBruggen, a senior research fellow at the Manhattan Institute, a conservative-leaning think tank.

Over the past four decades, there has been a “revolution” in U.S. legal culture expanding gun rights of individuals, VerBruggen notes.

In the 1980s, just only five states granted a right to carry (RTC)  concealed weapons, but by the mid 2000s, acceptance had become so widespread that at least 20 states allowed it even without the need to apply for permits.

But researchers have still not been able to determine conclusively whether RTC laws have reduced crime, as some supporters argue—or have contributed to an increase in gun violence, as gun control advocates maintain, VerBruggen writes.

“Over time, findings that RTC reduces crime have become less common, and findings that it increases crime have become more common—but recent work still contains plenty of null results, meaning that any effect was too small to measure,” VerBruggen writes after a research review.

he notes that the battleground has shifted to the extent to which states can put limits on RTC where it has been enacted.

That includes requirements for lengthy training, high fees, and carving out specific areas as “sensitive” and off=limits to anyone carrying a firearm.

New York City, for instance, has banned firearms in Times Square in the wake of the  Supreme Court’s ruling in New York State Rifle & Pistol Association Inc. v Bruen, which struck down the state’s  requirement that applicants for RTC permits demonstrate a “special need.”

New York’s ban is in turn now facing legal challenges.

Similarly, California is using pre-existing standards for gun ownership, such as demonstrating “good moral character” to determine whether to grant an RTC permit.

But while these efforts could be curtailed by future court rulings, the net effect of the RTC “revolution” –and the lack of conclusive research–has left many states opposing RTC in much the same positions they were before the expansion of gun rights, VerBruggen argues.

“Ultimately, these states will still be run by antigun politicians with a lot of freedom to pursue antigun policies,” VerBruggen writes.

Download the complete paper here.

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