A copy of our newest report is available here. Copies of our annual reports from 2014 through 2018 are available here.
The number of concealed handgun permits has increased for the third year in a row. The figure now stands at over 18.66 million– a 304% increase since 2007. It’s also an 8% increase over the number of permits we counted a year ago in 2018. Unlike gun ownership surveys that may be affected by people’s unwillingness to answer personal questions, concealed handgun permit data is the only really “hard data” that we have. Sixteen states are missing from the data because people there don’t even need a permit to carry.
Among the findings of our report:
- Last year, the number of permit holders continued to grow by about 1.4 million. Despite expectations that increases in permits were primarily driven by fears of Democratic presidencies, the growth has continued at a similar pace after the November 2016 election.
- 7.3% of American adults have permits. Outside of the restrictive states of California and New York, about 8.75% of the adult population has a permit.
- In thirteen states, more than 10% of adults have permits, down from just fifteen last year. Arkansas, Oklahoma, and West Virginia fell below 10%, but they are now all Constitutional Carry states, meaning that people no longer need a permit to carry. South Carolina’s concealed carry rate has now risen to above 10%.
- Alabama has the highest concealed carry rate — 26.3%. Indiana is second with 17.9%, and South Dakota — another Constitutional Carry state — saw its percentage decline to 16.02%.
- Four states now have over 1 million permit holders: Florida, Georgia, Pennsylvania, and Texas. Florida is the first state to have over 2 million permits.
- Sixteen states have adopted constitutional carry, meaning that a permit is no longer required. Because of these constitutional carry states, the nationwide growth in permits does not paint a full picture of the overall increase in concealed carry. But some residents still choose to obtain permits so that they can carry in other states that have reciprocity agreements.
- In 2019, women made up 26.5% of permit holders in the 12 states that provide data by gender. Eight states had data from 2012 to 2019, and permit numbers grew 101% faster for women than for men.
- Three states that have detailed race and gender data for at least a decade show remarkably larger increases in permits for minorities compared to whites. In Texas, black females saw a 3.6 times greater percentage increase in permits than white males. North Carolina had black permits increase twice as fast as whites. In Oklahoma, the increase for American Indians was twice the rate for whites and for blacks it was 66% greater than for whites.
- From 2012 to 2018, in the four states that provide data by race over that time period, the number of black people with permits increased almost 20% faster than the number of whites with permits. Asians appear to be the group that has experienced the largest increase in permitted concealed carry, growing 29% faster than whites.
- Concealed handgun permit holders are extremely law-abiding. In Florida and Texas, permit holders are convicted of misdemeanors and felonies at one-sixth of the rate at which police officers are convicted.
annual report on number of concealed handgun permits, CPRC original research