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HomeFirearmsSammin: Shall-Issue Concealed Carry is a Matter of Equality, Not a Safety

Sammin: Shall-Issue Concealed Carry is a Matter of Equality, Not a Safety

Dan Z for TTAG

A shall-issue state like Pennsylvania will issue a concealed carry permit to anyone who meets the legal requirements. That doesn’t mean just anyone can get a permit — the law carves out several groups including convicted felons, people “not of sound mind,” and “habitual drunkards.” But if you are legally qualified, you get the permit. …

In no other circumstances do we require people to apply to the subjective judgment of a cop or judge before they can exercise a right. If this were any other civil right, New York’s law would have long ago set off alarm bells in the minds of liberals. And indeed, some on the left in New York got that message, including the Black Attorneys of Legal Aid, the Bronx Defenders, and the Brooklyn Defender Services, all of which joined several other groups in an amicus brief in support of striking down the law. …

In New York and any other state whose laws must now change to be more like ours, the effect on crime will likely be undetectable.

Don’t believe me? Just look at the data. Between 1998 and 2020, the percentage of people with concealed carry permits nationwide has grown by more than sixfold, yet for most of those years (until 2020) the murder rate declined. The rate of violent crime overall declined even more sharply.

Our state does not break down crime data into permit holders vs. non-permit holders, but one state that does, Michigan, found that out of more than 750,000 permit holders in 2021, only four were convicted of homicide. That’s a rate of 0.53 per 100,000 — compared with 7.4 per 100,000 in the state as a whole. The rate for all crimes was 1,856 per 100,000; for permit holders, it was 177 per 100,000.

Pennsylvania changed from a “may issue” to a “shall issue” state in 1989. After that, the state’s murder rate rose slightly, then declined again. Only in 2020 did that rate reach the heights of the early 1990s. Meanwhile, across the river, New Jersey remained a “may issue” state and saw the exact same rise and fall in murders. The trend in New York was the same.

Conservatives will often say that concealed carry makes us all safer, while liberals say it makes us less safe. But according to the data, neither is correct. Things essentially stay the same, because would-be criminals don’t typically wait until they get a government permit before shooting people.

The changes that will follow in New York and New Jersey after Bruen will not make people there more safe or less safe. What they will do is bring order and equality to the administration of a constitutional right, guaranteeing that all applicants for permits will be treated equally under the law. Equal justice under the law should be uncontroversial in a democratic republic.

— Kyle Sammin in If You Legally Qualify for a Gun Permit, You Should Get One 

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