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Member Research & Reports

Member Research & Reports

BU Finds Permissive Concealed-Carry Laws Linked to Higher Homicide Rates

Easier access to concealed firearms is associated with significantly higher rates of handgun-related homicide, according to a new study led by a Boston University School of Public Health (BUSPH).

The study, published in the American Journal of Public Health, suggests that current trends towards more permissive concealed-carry laws are inconsistent with the promotion of public safety.

Currently, all states allow certain people to carry a concealed handgun, but there are variations in permitting policy. Nine states have “may issue” laws, in which law enforcement officials have wide discretion over whether to issue concealed carry permits; police chiefs can deny a permit if they deem the applicant to be at risk of committing violence even if there is not a criminal history. In 29 states, there is little or no discretion; these are referred to as “shall issue” states. No permit is necessary to carry a concealed handgun in 12 states.

Using data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Web-Based Injury Statistics Query and Reporting Systems database, the researchers mapped out the relationship between changes in state concealed-carry permitting laws over time and total firearm-related homicide rates between 1991 and 2015. They also examined the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s Uniform Crime Reports Supplemental Homicide Reports (SHR) to differentiate between handgun and long-gun homicides. Previous studies have only examined homicide by all firearms.

The researchers found that “shall issue” laws were associated with a 6.5 percent higher total homicide rate than “may issue” laws, as well as an 8.6 percent higher firearm homicide rate and a 10.6 percent higher handgun homicide rate. The researchers found no impact of shall-issue laws on long-gun shootings.

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