Concealed Carry Permit Holders Across the United States: 2019

62 Pages Posted: 15 Oct 2019

See all articles by John R. Lott

John R. Lott

Crime Prevention Research Center

Date Written: September 27, 2019


The number of concealed handgun permits has increased for the third year in a row. The figure now stands at over 18.66 million – a 304% increase since 2007. It’s also an 8% increase over the number of permits we counted a year ago in 2018. Unlike gun ownership surveys that may be affected by people’s unwillingness to answer personal questions, concealed handgun permit data is the only really “hard data” that we have. Sixteen states are missing from the data because people there don’t even need a permit to carry.

Among the findings of our report:

■ Last year, the number of permit holders continued to grow by about 1.4 million. Despite expectations that increases in permits were primarily driven by fears of Democratic presidencies, the growth has continued at a similar pace after the November 2016 election.

■ 7.3% of American adults have permits. Outside of the restrictive states of California and New York, about 8.75% of the adult population has a permit.

■ In thirteen states, more than 10% of adults have permits, down from just fifteen last year. Arkansas, Oklahoma, and West Virginia fell below 10%, but they are now all Constitutional Carry states, meaning that people no longer need a permit to carry. South Carolina’s concealed carry rate has now risen to above 10%.

■ Alabama has the highest concealed carry rate — 26.3%. Indiana is second with 17.9%, and South Dakota — another Constitutional Carry state — saw its percentage decline to 16.02%.

■ Four states now have over 1 million permit holders: Florida, Georgia, Pennsylvania, and Texas. Florida is the first state to have over 2 million permits.

■ Sixteen states have adopted constitutional carry, meaning that a permit is no longer required.

Because of these constitutional carry states, the nationwide growth in permits does not paint a full picture of the overall increase in concealed carry. But some residents still choose to obtain permits so that they can carry in other states that have reciprocity agreements.

Keywords: concealed handgun permits, defensive gun use, right-to-carry laws, constitutional carry

JEL Classification: K10, K47

Suggested Citation

Lott, John R., Concealed Carry Permit Holders Across the United States: 2019 (September 27, 2019). Available at SSRN: or

John R. Lott (Contact Author)

Crime Prevention Research Center ( email )

PO Box 2293
1100 W Kent Ave
Missoula, MT 59801
United States

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