On February 11 The New York Times armed itself with a report from the Violence Policy Center (VPC) and went to war against concealed carry permit holders, associating said permit holders with murder and other crimes and raising the specter that concealed carry permit holders may actually be the “bad guys” with guns in a scenario where “good guys” with guns are promised.
According to the NYT, the VPC report shows “722 nonself-defense deaths since 2007 were attributable to individuals with legal permits to carry concealed weapons.” The NYT jumps on this claim, adding, “the full death toll attributable to concealed carry is undoubtedly larger because the center’s study did not cover all 50 states.”
Moreover, the NYT makes it clear that the only thing preventing the discovery of complete death toll numbers is that pro-gun lawmakers “dare not allow a national tally.”
The problem with all these claims is that the VPC report contains inaccuracies and, therefore, so do the NYT’s resulting presumptions.
The Crime Prevention Research Center’s John Lott explains that the VPC study is written in a way that heightens crime numbers among concealed carry permit holders by lumping suicides and murders together in the states studied.
For example, VPC indicates “277 suicides or murders” for Michigan concealed carry permit holders for the time period 2007 to 2015. What Lott shows is that 217 of these “suicides or murders” were, in fact, suicides. This fact alone reduces the grand tally of “722 nonself-defense deaths” by “38 percent,” without even looking at how the numbers have or have not been represented in other states.
Additionally, Lott points out that suicides most often happen at home and, therefore, “are not in any meaningful way linked to the act of carrying a permitted concealed handgun outside of one’s home.” On top of this, he shows that the suicide rate among concealed carry permit holders in Michigan was “6.2 per 100,000 permit holders” while the rate among “the general adult population [was] 16.59 [per 100,000].”
Regarding VPC’s murder claims, Lott shows that the report adds “pending” charges and “conviction” numbers together. By doing so, they “[double] the supposed total number of murders” in some cases.
Follow AWR Hawkins on Twitter @AWRHawkins. Reach him directly at firstname.lastname@example.org.