January 27, 2023

Thirteen years ago, only two states — Vermont and Alaska — allowed its residents the unfettered right to carry a gun, relying on the Constitution’s Second Amendment as a blanket permit for all.

Since 2010, however, nearly two dozen states have followed suit, with 11 of them passing permitless carry laws in the last three years alone. 

The growing movement has chalked up wins in state legislatures with remarkable speed, drawing cheers from gun rights advocates while raising fears among reformers that the changes will lead to more guns in the street — and likely more violence. …

With big-ticket gun reforms like the Assault Weapons Ban or universal background checks stalled in Congress, the spate of state laws marks a defeat for the reform movement, which views the trend as a public security threat. 

Sociological studies tend to show that increases in gun ownership generally track with increases in violence.

“It’s no coincidence that in states with very permissive approaches to guns in public, you have higher rates of gun death,” said Adam Skaggs, chief counsel for the Giffords Law Center, a nonpartisan reform group. 

Over the last five years, researchers have increasingly shown that loosening restrictions on carrying handguns is also associated with problems like increased gun theft and road rage incidents, according to Stanford Law professor John Donohue.

Letting more people carry guns also impedes police work, Donohue said – partly from upticks in their caseloads of gun thefts and accidental shootings and partly because ramping up the risk of getting shot reduces police efficiency.

“One of the unintended consequences of putting more guns on the street is degrading police performance,” Donohue said. “You see clearance rates for all crimes drop when states move in the direction of letting more people carry guns.” 

— Roque Planas in People Can Now Carry Guns without a License in Half of America’s States

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