Concealed Carry Permit Holders Across the United States: 2023

74 Pages Posted: 7 Dec 2023 Last revised: 3 Jan 2024

See all articles by John R. Lott

John R. Lott

Crime Prevention Research Center

Carlisle E. Moody

College of William and Mary - Department of Economics; Crime Prevention Research Center

Rujun Wang

Crime Prevention Research Center

Date Written: November 30, 2023

Abstract

Despite the 2022 U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in New York State Rifle and Pistol Association v. Bruen affirming a constitutional right to bear arms, there hasn’t been a huge surge in the number of Concealed Carry Permit holders across the United States. Instead, it dropped slightly, down 0.5% from 2022 record high to 21.8 million. A major cause of the marginal decline is that 27 states now have Constitutional Carry laws after Nebraska's Permitless Concealed Carry law took effect on September 2, 2023. In other words, people in those twenty-seven states are allowed to carry concealed handguns without permits, representing 65% of the land in the country and 44% of the population in 2022. 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, but it becomes a less accurate measure as more states become Constitutional Carry states.


Among the findings of our report:

■ Last year, the number of permit holders dropped for the first time since we started collecting this data in 2011, decreasing 0.5% from 2022 record high to 21.8 million. The main reason for the drop is that the number of permits declines gradually in the Constitutional Carry states even though it is clear that more people are legally carrying.

■ 8.4% of American adults have permits. Outside of the restrictive states of California and New York, about 10.1% of adults have a permit.

■ In seventeen states, more than 10% of adults have permits. Kentucky and Virginia have fallen slightly below 10% this year. Kentucky’s fell after passing a Constitutional Carry law in 2019, meaning that people no longer need a permit to carry. The concealed carry rates for Michigan and Oregon have risen to above 10% in 2023.

■ Alabama has the highest concealed carry rate — 27.8%. Indiana is second with 23.0%, and Colorado is third with 16.5%.

■ Six states now have over 1 million permit holders: Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Indiana, Pennsylvania, and Texas. Florida is the top states with 2.56 million permits.

■ Twenty-seven states have adopted Constitutional Carry for their entire state, meaning that a permit is no longer required. Because of these Constitutional Carry states, the concealed carry permits number does not paint a full picture of how many people are legally carrying across the nation. Many residents still choose to obtain permits so that they can carry in other states that have reciprocity agreements, but while permits are increasing in the non-Constitutional Carry states (317,185), permits fell even more in the Constitutional Carry ones even though more people are clearly carrying in those states (485,013).

■ A survey we conducted with McLaughlin and Associates found that 15.6% of general election voters carry concealed handguns.

Keywords: concealed handgun permits, crime

JEL Classification: K14,

Suggested Citation

Lott, John R. and Moody, Carlisle E. and Wang, Rujun, Concealed Carry Permit Holders Across the United States: 2023 (November 30, 2023). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=4648999 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.4648999

John R. Lott (Contact Author)

Crime Prevention Research Center ( email )

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

Carlisle E. Moody

College of William and Mary - Department of Economics ( email )

Williamsburg, VA 23187-8795
United States
757-221-2373 (Phone)
757-221-1175 (Fax)

Crime Prevention Research Center ( email )

Missoula, MT
United States

Rujun Wang

Crime Prevention Research Center ( email )

PO Box 3234
Alexandria, VA
United States

Do you have negative results from your research you’d like to share?

Paper statistics

Downloads
406
Abstract Views
1,951
Rank
130,638
PlumX Metrics