FACT CHECK: Gavin Newsom Says ‘Permitless Carry Does Not Make You Safer’
CLAIM: In the lead-up to his February 1 push for more gun control, California Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) claimed, “Permitless carry does not make you safer.”
VERDICT: Partly False.
On June 7, 2017, Breitbart News relayed FBI data published by the NRA that showed two of the earliest permitless carry states, hereafter called constitutional carry states, were Alaska and Arizona. And both states saw their handgun murders decline when their concealed carry permit requirements were abolished.
The date showed Alaska’s handgun murder rate “declined after the state enacted [constitutional carry] in 2003.” Moreover, in the 14 years between the abolition of the permit requirement and 2017 “handgun murders…declined as a percentage of the total number of murders.”
A drop in handgun murders also took place in Arizona after that state abolished its concealed carry permit requirement in 2010.
More recently, the Maine Wire noted that crime fell in Maine after the state abolished its concealed carry permit requirement in 2015.
FBI data shows violent crime beginning a decline in 2016 that continued through 2020.
There are currently 25 states with constitutional carry. When there were only 13–Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, Idaho, Kansas, Kentucky, Maine, Mississippi, Missouri, New Hampshire, North Dakota, West Virginia, and Wyoming–the Crime Prevention Research Center (CPRC) showed that data from the 13 states showed overall murder numbers fell from 4.49 to 4.31 post-constitutional carry enactment, and that violent crime fell from 331.5 to 318.2.
But murder levels can vary for a variety of reasons, and CPRC’s John Lott explains some of the numerous factors that are often at play:
Firearm homicide is not a good measure of the effect of Constitutional Carry laws because murders can be committed with other weapons as well as by hands and fists. Also, gun homicide data include justifiable homicides, including homicides by police in the line of duty. Justifiable homicides are benefits, not costs, and they might understandably increase when more citizens are allowed to defend themselves with guns. The FBI murder rate has neither of these problems and is a better test of the effect of constitutional carry laws. Nevertheless, my analysis finds that Constitutional Carry laws do not increase firearm homicide.
It should also be noted that Lott points out that constitutional carry helps to make the poor safer, by making self-defense affordable.
Constitutional Carry will make it easier for poor people, who are the most likely victims of violent crime, to be able to defend themselves and their families. Costs matter; just compare the numbers in neighboring states, Illinois and Indiana. In Illinois, the total cost of getting a five-year permit is $450; there is no license fee in Indiana. While only 4% of Illinoisans have a concealed handgun permit, 22% of adults in Indiana already have one, the second-highest number of permits per capita.
Newsom’s claim is partly false.