Stanford Professor: ‘Right to Carry’ for Law-Abiding Citizens Increases Violent Crime

George Frey/Getty Images
George Frey/Getty Images

Stanford professor John Donahue and his researchers claim states with “right to carry” (RTC) laws for concealed carry permit issuance experience higher rates of violent crime.

In other words, Donahue is saying that states which issue a permit when the concealed applicant has no criminal history are experiencing higher levels of violent crime.

Newsweek reported, “[Donahue’s team] estimates that the adoption of RTC laws substantially elevates violent crime rates (excluding murder rates), but seems to have no impact on property crime.”

The researchers claim, “States that adopted RTC laws have experienced an average 13 percent to 15 percent increase in violent crime in the 10 years after enacting those laws.”

Stop and consider the gist of what Donahue and his researchers are suggesting—that states which adopted a RTC posture for concealed carry applicants with no criminal record are seeing more crime because those without criminal records can carry. Does this make sense?  And it should be noted that RTC—or “shall issue”—does not include issuing to criminals. Rather, such a posture obligates the states to issue when there is no criminal record.

Yet Donahue and his researchers suggests RTC elevates violent crime.

How can they even begin to defend such a claim? According to Fox News columnist John Lott, they defend it by cherry picking which states they will contrast with other states and by ignoring the differences between states which are permeated with crime versus states where the violent crime is largely isolated to one city, like Chicago, Illinois.

Lott wrote:

No other study by an economist, criminologist, or law professor has claimed that US violent crime rose after right-to-carry laws were adopted. …This new study picks out just two to four states, and in many cases effectively just use Hawaii to compare with right-to-carry states.  In the cases of Idaho and Minnesota, over 96 percent of the comparison is just with Hawaii.  For Mississippi, Nebraska, and Utah, Hawaii counts for between 72 percent and 83 percent of the comparison.

He added, “The authors also rely on statistical tricks to come up with the claim that violent crime has gone up.  These are issues that have long been pointed out, but that the authors choose to ignore.”

AWR Hawkins is the Second Amendment columnist for Breitbart News and host of Bullets with AWR Hawkins, a Breitbart News podcast. He is also the political analyst for Armed American Radio. Follow him on Twitter: @AWRHawkins. Reach him directly at


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