Three million Americans carry loaded handguns on a daily basis, and 9 million do so monthly, according to a new study. The vast majority of those gun-holders — 82% — say they do it for self-protection.
The study — the first of its kind in 20 years — was conducted by the University of Washington School of Public Health, the University of Colorado, the Harvard School of Public Health and Northeastern University. The researchers surveyed the carrying habits of 1,444 handgun owners. One in four reported carrying a loaded gun in the past month, while one in three reported carrying daily.
In 1999, there were 2.7 million concealed carry permit holders in the U.S. By 2016, there were 14.5 million.
“It’s alarming that so many people are carrying hidden handguns in public across the nation,” Lindsay Nichols, the federal policy director at the Giffords Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence, told Mother Jones. “Some states give these permits out like candy.”
The researchers found that residents of states with looser gun laws were more likely to concealed-carry than handgun owners in states with tougher laws. According to the study, the average concealed handgun owner is “aged 18 to 29 years, male, self- identified as conservative, [has] lived in Southern regions of the United States, grew up in a firearm-owning household, owned both handguns and long guns, and had been threatened with a firearm in the past 5 years.”
Recent studies have shown that states with right-to-carry (RTC) concealed-handgun laws have higher rates of violent crime. “There is not even the slightest hint in the data that RTC laws reduce overall violent crime,” said John Donhue, a Stanford Law School professor, in a study released in June. It found that states which adopted right-to-carry laws experienced a 13 to 15 percent increase in violent crime within 10 years of their passage.