Concealed-carry handgun permits have increased more than 300% since 2007, according to a recent report by Dr. John Lott of the Crime Prevention Research Center.
The report, “Concealed Carry Permit Holders Across the United States: 2019,” stated:
Over 18 million concealed-carry permits have been issued nationwide, up 8% compared to 2018. (The report, dated Sept. 27, lists some statistics for 2019 even though the year is not yet complete.)
About 7% of all American adults have concealed-carry handgun permits.
The top ten states by percentage of adults with concealed-carry permits are Ala. (26%), Ind. (17%), S.D. (16%), Iowa (15%), Pa. (13%), Ga. (13%), Tenn. (12%), Ky. (11%), Utah (11%), and S.C. (11%).
For the months studied in 2019, women represent about 26% of concealed-carry permit holders in the states that provide data by gender.
Lott also compared the steep rise of permits to declines in both murder rates and violent crimes:
“Murder rates fell from 5.7 to 5.3 per 100,000, a 7% drop [since 1999]. Overall violent crime fell by 24 percent. Meanwhile, the percentage of adults with permits soared by five-fold. Such simple evidence by itself isn’t meant to show that concealed handgun permits reduce violent crime rates … only that there doesn’t seem to be any obvious positive relationship between permits and crime.”
The Crime Prevention Research Center report noted that while concealed-carry permits offer one of the few sources of “hard data” on gun ownership in the United States, they are not a perfect source. For example, 16 states do not require a permit to carry concealed, so the number of carriers in those states cannot be determined. Additionally, as gun laws change—such as a state moving from requiring a permit to not requiring one—the changes can affect the data.