Permitless Concealed Carry Issues and Concerns

Permitless carry would make North Carolinians less safe by allowing firearm owners to carry a loaded, hidden handgun without undergoing any training in firearm safety or North Carolina firearms laws. Additionally, background checks currently required by NC’s concealed carry (CCW) law would be eliminated, and the 21-year-old age requirement for carrying concealed would be lowered, allowing people as young as 18 years old to carry concealed.

What we would lose if we repeal concealed carry permitting – training in handling and shooting, safety, and state laws; background check; and the lowering of the age requirement – are all too dangerous to risk when it comes to public carry of firearms in North Carolina. Here’s how we know:

Increase in firearm violence

Research finds that weakening or removing state CCW permitting laws is associated with increases in violent crime:

  • States with weaker CCW permitting laws or permitless carry laws have 10.8% [4] higher firearm homicide rates, compared to states with stronger CCW permit laws.
  • West Virginia passed permitless concealed carry in 2016. In the years that followed, firearm deaths increased 29% overall; more specifically, firearm homicide increased 48% and firearm suicide increased 22%.  Handgun mortality increased 45%.
  • Weakening or removing state CCW permitting requirements is associated with a 29% increase in firearm violent crime rates, [5] and a 29% increase in workplace firearm homicide rates.[6]

Increase in officer-involved shootings and difficulty for law enforcement to solve violent crimes

  • States that moved from shall-issue to permitless CCW laws from 2014-2020 experienced a 12.9% increase of officer-involved fatal and nonfatal shootings of civilians, compared to rates expected had they not adopted these laws.[7]
  • Permitless carry states saw a 13% decline in the rates police clear violent crimes. [8]

Unrestricted carry of firearms in public does not make us safer.

Training:

  • The training aspect of our current CCW permitting law is incredibly important to public safety: a study of states weakening their CCW laws found that states with “shall issue” laws containing live-fire firearm safety training requirements did not have the significant increases in firearm assaults that were seen in states without these requirements. [9] Removal of NC’s CCW training requirement is a threat to public safety.
  • States that lost the training requirement to obtain a CCW permit experienced a 32% increase in gun assault rates.

Gun thefts:

  • Passing weak CCW laws increases gun thefts by approximately 35%, by “introducing tens of thousands of guns into the hands of criminals or illegal gun markets each year”. [10] This increase in crime guns led to a 29% increase in firearm violent crime.[11]
  • Across states with permitless carry laws, hundreds and thousands of guns are stolen from vehicles and residential neighborhoods. [12] Why? According to Dr. Daniel Webster of the Johns Hopkins Center for Gun Violence Solutions, “…as gun-carrying gets deregulated and more people are doing it, a lot more guns are being stolen, particularly from motor vehicles.”[13]
  • This increase in gun thefts is a serious public safety and risk, considering that “the most frequent occurrence each year involving crime and a good guy with a gun is not self-defense but rather the theft of the good guy’s gun, which occurs hundreds of thousands of times each year.” [14]
  • Firearm theft has spiked over the past several years in NC. [15] Adopting permitless carry now would almost certainly further contribute to this crisis – and as it has elsewhere, the resulting gun theft could result in higher firearm violent crime in our state.

Age requirement:

  • The age requirement of NC’s current law is important in preventing suicide among younger people. For example, lowering the minimum age to 19 for concealed carry in Missouri was associated with a 7.2% increase in firearm suicide among people aged 19 to 24. [16]

Broad support for requirements to carry concealed firearms

  • 81% of US adults oppose laws allowing concealed carry without a licensing requirement, and 72% in the states with permitless carry oppose the laws. [17]
  • Many law enforcement organizations oppose permitless carry, in part because it leads to a dangerous lack of training around safe handling and storage of firearms, and lack of knowledge of state laws. According to Dallas, TX Police Chief Eddie Garcia, “it makes our job, the job of our men and women, more dangerous…. Gun owners have a duty to ensure that their firearms are handled safely and a duty to know applicable laws. The licensing process is the best way to make sure this message is conveyed.” [18]

1 Concealed carry in North Carolina. Giffords Law Center. 2021 Mar.

2 G.S. 14-415.12. Criteria to qualify for the issuance of a permit.

3 G.S. 14-415.13.  Application for a permit; fingerprints.

4 Fridel E. Comparing the impact of household gun ownership and concealed carry legislation on the frequency of mass shootings and firearms homicide. Justice Quarterly. 2021.

5 Donahue J, et al. More guns, more unintended consequences: the effects of right-to-carry on criminal behavior and policing in US cities. National Bureau of Economic Research. June 2022.

6 Doucette M, et al. Right-to-carry laws and firearm workplace homicides: a longitudinal analysis (1992–2017). American Journal of Public Health. Dec 2019. 109(12):1747-1753.

7 Doucette M, et al. Officer-involved Shootings and Concealed Carry Weapons Permitting Laws: Analysis of Gun Violence Archive Data, 2014-2020. Journal of Urban Health. 2022.

8 Donahue J, et al. More guns, more unintended consequences: the effects of right-to-carry on criminal behavior and policing in US cities. National Bureau of Economic Research. June 2022.

9 Doucette M, et al. Impact of changes to concealed-carry weapons laws on fatal and nonfatal violent crime, 1980-2019. American Journal of Epidemiology. 2023.

10 Donahue J, et al. More guns, more unintended consequences: the effects of right-to-carry on criminal behavior and policing in US cities. National Bureau of Economic Research. June 2022.

11 Ibid.

12 Craig T. As gun ownership rises, Georgia looks to loosen restrictions: It’s the “wild, wild West.” The Washington Post. 2 April 2022.

13 Huynh A. ‘It just doesn’t help’: GOP-led efforts to push permitless carry come under scrutiny. NBC News. 30 May 2022.

14 Donahue J, et al. Right-to-Carry laws and violent crime: a comprehensive assessment using panel data and a state-level synthetic control analysis. Journal of Empirical Legal Studies. 16(2):198–247. April 2019

15 Kane D. 5 things we learned about rising gun thefts in the Triangle and NC. Raleigh News & Observer. 27 October 2022.

16 Bhatt A., et al. Association of changes in Missouri firearm laws with adolescent and young adult suicides by firearms. JAMA Open Network. Nov 2020.

17 Franklin C. State gun laws and public opinion. Marquette University Law School Faculty Blog. 8 June 2022.

18 Reece K. Dallas police chief among those against ‘constitutional carry’ of handguns in Texas. WFAA. 13 April 2021.