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Shall Issue Policy and Criminal Activity among Applicants for Permits to Carry Concealed Firearms

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Publication Date: January 2003

Publisher(s): Injury Prevention

Author(s): Michael P. Romero, MPH; Garen J. Wintemute; Mona A. Wright; C.A. Parham


Special Collection: The Joyce Foundation

Topic: Law and ethics (Criminal law)
Social conditions (Safety and security)

Keywords: California; concealed firearm permits; gun permits ; crime

Type: Report

Coverage: California


Permits to carry concealed firearms in public (CCW permits) remain controversial. This paper is a small scale experiment with shall-issue CCW permit policy in California, a may-issue state.

During the mid-1990s Isleton, California issued permits to all county residents who applied and passed a standard background check. This program received national publicity. The incidence of subsequent criminal activity among 691 persons applying for CCW permits through Isleton’s program in 1995 and that in a statewide sample of 965 CCW applicants from 1993–94 were compared. Subjects were followed up for three years from their application dates.

This study suggests that a shall-issue policy for CCW permits may result in higher rates of violent crime among permit holders, but the results do not reach statistical significance; larger studies are needed.