By Bob Mudge, Senior Writer, The Daily Sun, June 27,2002.
Experts agree that the adoption of the permitless, or “constitutional,” carrying of concealed weapons has an impact on gun use in a state.
They just don’t agree on what it is.
For every study saying that allowing the carrying of a concealed weapon without a permit leads to more gun injuries and deaths, there’s one saying it doesn’t and it enhances the right of self-defense.
One more thing the experts agree on: The other side’s research is flawed.
Twenty-five states currently, or will soon, allow the carrying of a concealed weapon without a permit.
Florida isn’t one of them but Gov. Ron DeSantis has promised to sign a constitutional carry bill into law before he leaves office.
He’ll need to be re-elected in November to do so, as there’s no legislative session scheduled before 2023. But incoming House Speaker Paul Renner, R-Palm Coast, has already indicated his support for the idea.
A bill that would largely have eliminated permitting in Florida died in committee this year.
A search turned up no opinion poll of Florida residents on permitless-carry, but one reported Wednesday on the Marquette University Law School Faculty Blog shows that while 66% of respondents support the right to possess a gun outside the home, only 19% are in favor of the permitless carrying of a concealed weapon.
Even in states that already allow permitless-carry, only 28% of respondents said they back it.
Results from a Pew Survey conducted in 2021 are essentially the same: 20% support permitless carry.
Backers of permitless-carry date the right back to when the Second Amendment was adopted, saying that there were no restrictions on the carrying of weapons then.
They also rely on Heller v. District of Columbia, in which the Supreme Court declared a right to gun ownership separate from membership in a militia, though Justice Antonin Scalia also wrote that the regulation of guns is permissible.
Heller didn’t involve permitless-carry but most such laws have been passed in the wake of that 2008 decision.
John Lott, president of the Montana-based Crime Prevention Research Center, is one of the researchers most commonly cited in support of permitless-carry.
In December, he and Florida Rep. Anthony Sabatini, the sponsor of the failed permitless-carry bill, published a guest column in the Orlando Sentinel titled, “Passing constitutional-carry laws for handguns is common sense.”
In it they make the case for Florida to do away with requiring a permit because of the length of time it takes to get one issued — up to four months, they write — and because of the cost, which is about $100.
Lott’s research shows a significant use of guns in defense of self and property — up to four or five times the rate of use in crimes — that depends on their availability.
The changes would “overwhelmingly (benefit) poor blacks who live in high-crime urban areas,” they wrote.
Concerns about increased gun violence are overblown, they wrote, stating “that several dozen peer-reviewed academic studies show there’s no evidence of any uptick in gun crimes linked to concealed carry laws, and most show violent crime declines.”
“Research also shows that murder rates fall even more when states move to constitutional-carry laws,” they continue.
Permit holders are exceptionally law-abiding, they wrote, noting that permit revocation is extremely rare.
Permitless-carry opponents have been very critical of Lott’s methodology and conclusions, however.
GVPedia, an Oklahoma-based crime research institute, calls claims that permitless-carry laws reduce violent crime “a myth” in papers rebutting Lott’s research.
Its analysis, at GVPedia.org, says states that pass a permitless carry law see a 22% increase in gun homicide in the following three years, compared to a 10% increase in the country as a whole, based on data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Both overall homicides and gun deaths “increase substantially after states pass permitless-carry compared to the rest of the country,” it states. “In particular, Kansas, Mississippi, Missouri, and West Virginia saw substantial increases in gun homicides after passing permitless-carry.”
Regarding defensive gun use, GVPedia refers to a Harvard study by David Hemenway and Mary Vriniotis stating that “no survey that has used the same methodology for estimating both criminal and self-defense … has found anywhere near the number of self-defense gun uses compared to criminal gun uses.”
Permit-holder revocation rates are unreliable, according to GVPedia, and Lott ignores “significant academic evidence” that people who often carry firearms are more likely to have them stolen.
He also overlooks the fact the permitless carry means requirements for a background check and firearms training go away, GVPedia states.
Image Credits: A supporter of open-carry gun laws in Austin in January 2015. (Eric Gay/AP)