More Americans legally carrying guns despite slowest increase in CCW permits on record, expert says

Concealed carry permits have increased by 2.3% in 2022 compared to last year, despite nearly half of U.S. states enacting what have been termed constitutional carry laws that don’t require Americans to obtain a government-issued permit to legally carry firearms, a new report shows. 

“As the United States is moving into a post-pandemic era, the number of concealed handgun permits has continued increasing. The figure now stands at 22.01 million – a 2.3% increase since last year,” a report published by the Crime Prevention Research Center (CPRC), which was provided to Fox News Digital, this week. 

CPRC compiled the data using information from concealed carry permits issued in states across the country this year. The report does not rely on surveys on gun ownership or polls, which CPRC argued can lead to people not answering honestly. A concealed carry weapon (CCW) is the practice of Americans carrying firearms in a public space but in a way that is not visible to others. 

“Last year, the number of permit holders continued to grow by about 488,000. At 2.3% growth over 2021, that is the slowest percent and absolute increase that we have seen since we started collecting this data in 2011. Part of that is due to the number of permits declining in the Constitutional Carry states even though it is clear that more people are legally carrying,” the report states. 

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Damon Thueson shows a holster at a gun concealed carry permit class put on by “USA Firearms Training” on Dec. 19, 2015, in Provo, Utah.
(George Frey/Getty Images)

This year Georgia became the 25th state in the nation to adopt a constitutional carry law – Alabama also passed constitutional carry, but it does not take effect until January. Such laws eliminate the need for state residents to carry a firearm in public, which state leaders have often touted as legislation that further ensures a citizens’ right to protect themselves in public.

“Because of these Constitutional Carry states, the nationwide growth in permits does not paint a full picture of the overall increase in concealed carry. 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, they fell in the Constitutional Carry ones even though more people are clearly carrying in those states,” the study notes. 

The Supreme Court issued a landmark gun ruling in June, which struck down New York’s gun licensing laws that required residents to show proof of proper cause in order to be granted a concealed carry permit. States such as California and Massachusetts had similar “may issue” concealed carry laws, but after the Supreme Court ruling, states are required to permit concealed carry licenses without citizens having to justify their reason for applying for one.

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Supreme Court of the United States

Supreme Court of the United States
(AP Photo/Patrick Semansky)

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The study ranked states by the percentage of the adult population with concealed carry permits and found Alabama coming in the top spot, at 32.49%.

Map created by the Crime Prevention Research Center shows percentages of adults in each state with concealed handgun permits. 

Map created by the Crime Prevention Research Center shows percentages of adults in each state with concealed handgun permits. 
(Crime Prevention Research Center)

Following Alabama, Indiana ranked in the second spot at 23.40%, Georgia third at 15.53%, Iowa fourth at 15.46% and Colorado fifth at 15.41%. 

The study highlighted that Indiana, Iowa and Georgia are constitutional carry states, and that permits there are “only obtained to carry outside of state.” Thus, “these numbers will dramatically underestimate the true rate that guns are legally carried concealed.” 

Map created by the Crime Prevention Research Center shows constitutional carry laws by state. 

Map created by the Crime Prevention Research Center shows constitutional carry laws by state. 
(Crime Prevention Research Center)

Additionally, the study notes that it determined estimates for Alabama and Georgia based on “NICS background checks for concealed handgun permits.” 

On the other end of the spectrum were: Hawaii, at 0%, or 0.02% if including permits for private security; New Jersey at 0.02%; Rhode Island at 0.18%; California at 0.40%; and Maryland at 0.99%. 

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The study determined that 8.5% of adult Americans have a concealed carry permit, which increases to 11% when eliminating restrictive jurisdictions such as California, Connecticut, Delaware, the District of Columbia, Hawaii, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York and Rhode Island from the data. 

Six states have more than 1 million concealed carry permit holders – Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Indiana, Pennsylvania and Texas – with Florida at the top of the list, at 2.57 million, according to the data. 

The study comes after gun sales had a banner year in 2020, with an estimated 23 million firearms sold and more than 21 million gun background checks conducted. The numbers smashed records, and notably spiked at the onset of the pandemic in March, before jumping yet again in June of that year as protests and riots spread across the nation in response to the death of George Floyd. 

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“While gun sales cooled down some during the last half of 2019, they have exploded since 2020. Though the latest figures represent a decrease compared to the same period in 2021, this year continues its pace toward third-highest gun sales on record,” the study added.

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