Florida, USA - Easing of Concealed Carry Laws

A short historty of right to carry (RTC) laws

"Yeah, but what about the University of Maryland study that showed that murders increased after concealed-carry permits were issued in Florida?

In summary: This statistical "factoid" offered up March 13, 1995 by the Associated "Black Rhino" Press said that average monthly homicides by gun increased in four of five urban areas studied by the University of Maryland's Violence Research Group, after the passage of liberalised concealed carry reform laws.

The researchers do not reveal in press reports whether any of these gun-related homicides were committed by concealed carry permit holders, nor the proportion of concealed carry permit holders in each of the studied localities, which, if we were to assume that less restrictive concealed carry is associated with increased homicide, would be an important factor to consider. The information that is available from other sources, such as the state government in Florida, suggests that criminality by concealed carry permit holders is virtually unknown. Nor do the researchers explain why they chose the cities they did, rather than looking at the crime rates for each state as a whole, when the concealed-carry laws were enacted statewide.

Three of the localities studied were in Florida (where a statewide CCW reform law was enacted in 1987, and where "gun control" advocates predicted increased violent crime would make it into the "Gunshine State"):

Jacksonville, where the monthly average number of gun-related homicides increased by 74 percent (a jump of that magnitude makes one wonder whether the "startling increase" was something like the increase between having an average of 4 gun-related homicides a month in one year and 7 in the next, which would be a "75% INCREASE!" over the previous year), and the average monthly number of gun-related homicides (note that they don't say gun-related murders here, so their numbers will include justifiable homicides in self-defense, and even what is somewhat euphemistically called "legal intervention" by the police) in,

Tampa increased 22 percent, and in,

Miami the gun-related homicides per month increased 3 percent.

Complicating any analysis of Florida's crime rates is the fact that almost immediately following the passage of Florida's 1987 CCW reforms, the state changed the manner in which they collect crime statistics, so comparisons before and after the implementation of the law can be invalid on that basis.

However, the number of homicides ought not to be affected by that, since to have a homicide, you need to have a body. Statistical changes ought not to affect the ability to count bodies, which is essentially what the Maryland study does (albeit very crudely, and without distinguishing between justifiable homicides and murders).

A statewide analysis of the Florida data (see Appendix II.), reveals that the researchers missed the downward trend in murder/manslaughter rates since the Florida concealed-carry law was enacted. The wide disparities in the with-gun homicide rates given in the study seem very unusual at first glance, and this is the result of the fact that the study is calculating its percent increases in absolute terms (4 going up to 7) rather than per 100,000 population, as is necessary for any realistic assessment.

Localities with few gun-related homicides per month to begin with can always show greater percentage changes if expressed in absolute terms. As can be seen in Appendix II, the numbers jump around quite a bit from year to year, also. Calculating average homicides per month seems rather peculiar, since it's widely known in criminology that more violent crime occurs in summer months than in winter months, so averaging over the year will serve to produce smaller numbers. Since the monthly numbers are much lower than those for the year, and the average monthly values lower still, they can easily produce some "startling" percentage changes.

The study design seems to be geared towards producing maximum "noise" in the data, rather than discerning a longer term trend. That, and failure to control for differences in population size between the cities and changes in population size over time (which is what the measurement per 100,000 population does), mark this study as yet another shoddy piece of "junk science".

The question of the direction of causality's arrow is critically important to consider. Does increased homicide lead to more people obtaining permits to carry, or does increasing the availability of permits to carry increase the homicide rate? The Maryland study's researchers seem to want to argue the latter, but they have thus far offered no evidence that CCW permit holders are doing the killing!

The sampling of these particular localities, if nonrandom, can also be used to introduce bias into such a study, and sociological differences between localities would also need to be controlled for. The two other localities examined were Jackson, Mississippi, where the average monthly gun-related homicide rate increased by 43 percent; and Portland, Oregon, where the average monthly gun-related homicide rate fell by 12 percent. U. Maryland criminologist David McDowall, quoted in the AP report says: "While advocates of these relaxed [carry] laws argue that they will prevent crime, and suggest that they have reduced homicides in areas that adopted them, we strongly suggest caution.

When states weaken limits on concealed weapons, they may be giving up a simple and effective method of preventing firearm deaths." This quotation also points up another aspect of bias in the study. What exactly is significant about gun related homicides, versus total homicides? Does the fact that a homicide is committed with a firearm make the slain any more dead than if the homicide was committed with a knife, or with hands and feet?

The researchers note that homicides by other means remained steady in the studied localities. The researchers could argue that increased availability of legal concealed weapons is leading to an "arms race" between criminals and their potential victims, and more criminals are using firearms than previously, but the legitimacy of availability of concealed carry permits to the law abiding is not predicated on the frequency of misbehaviour of criminals-- except in the minds of "gun control" advocates who wish to prohibit any item that could potentially be misused by criminals (chemical defense sprays and stun guns included), regardless of its effectiveness in protecting the weak from the predations of the strong. Theirs is a policy which demands that victims "lie back and enjoy it," rather than fight back, and reduce their risk of injury or death.


"Shall Issue": The New Wave of Concealed Handgun Permit Laws
By Clayton E. Cramer & David B. Kopel
Independence Institute.

Copyright 2001 Crimefree South Africa, all rights reserved.