New Data Shatters Liberal Myths About Gun Violence & Constitutional Carry

By Shane Harris – January 26, 2024

Amid constant leftist fearmongering about the supposedly disastrous consequences of allowing Americans to exercise their Second Amendment freedoms, new data shows that expanding rights for responsible gun owners – and actually punishing gun crimes – makes states safer.

According to a report from Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost released in January, “six of Ohio’s eight largest cities saw less gun crime after the state’s ‘constitutional carry’ law took effect.” In June 2022, Ohio became the 23rd state in the nation to legalize constitutional carry, or permitless carry, which allows residents to carry a concealed firearm without having to undergo a burdensome and time-consuming permitting process. Since then, four more states have passed constitutional carry, bringing the total to 27.

Notably, Ohio’s law as well as constitutional carry laws in other states still prohibit certain people from buying or possessing a firearm, such as felons, people convicted of domestic violence, and individuals with serious mental health conditions. Legal gun owners in Ohio are also still prohibited from carrying inside schools and government buildings, and are not allowed to consume any alcohol while carrying, also tracking with other states.

As has been the case wherever conservatives advance pro-Second Amendment legislation, Ohio liberals vehemently opposed the institution of constitutional carry, insisting that it would lead to a rise in gun violence. Columbus Mayor Andrew Ginther called permitless carry “reckless and dangerous,” while the Ohio Democrat Party predicted the change would “make all Ohioans less safe” and increase gun crime.

But the data cited by Yost’s office shows that the exact opposite occurred. In the capital of Columbus and Ohio’s largest city, the rate per 1,000 residents of crime incidents involving a firearm declined from 10.79 in the period June 2021 to June 2022 (one year before constitutional carry took effect) to 9.55 in the period June 2022 to June 2023 (one year after constitutional carry took effect). Every other major city in the state except Cincinnati and Dayton saw a similar decline.

As Yost emphasized, the report does not “downplay the very real problem of crime in many neighborhoods in our cities – you don’t need a research team to see that gun violence destroys lives, families and opportunity.” However, he continued, “The key takeaway from this study is that we have to keep the pressure on the criminals who shoot people, rather than Ohioans who responsibly exercise their Second Amendment rights.”

But these statistics from Ohio merely re-emphasize decades of data showing that both constitutional concealed carry and open carry laws (allowing those eligible to own a gun to carry it unconcealed on their person in public) are associated with less violent crime and less gun crime.

Back in 2015, for instance, then-State Rep. Matt Gaetz of Florida was highlighting how Department of Justice data showed violent crime was 23 percent higher in non-open carry states as he lobbied unsuccessfully for an open carry bill.

However, Sunshine State Republicans successfully passed a constitutional carry bill last year, which Governor Ron DeSantis signed into law. Although there isn’t yet enough evidence to draw a direct link between the passage of constitutional carry and a decrease in gun violence (the bill only went into effect on July 1, 2023) Florida did see an overall 10 percent decrease in gun deaths and injuries in 2023 compared to 2022, including decreases of up to 20 percent in some cities.

In Alabama – a state that consistently ranks among the worst per capita for gun violence – constitutional carry took effect on January 1, 2023. Again defying liberal predictions of more violence, gun deaths saw a modest drop from 1,277 in 2022 to 1,141 in 2023. Meanwhile, the city of Birmingham saw its first drop in homicides in five years, while violent crime in Montgomery was down 10 percent last year compared to 2022.

Just to the east, Georgia legislators implemented constitutional carry in April 2022. In 2021, there were a total of 2,200 gun deaths in the state. In 2023, that number dropped to 1,897. In Atlanta, homicides dropped 21 percent in 2023 from 2022 as police focused on targeting illegal gun ownership and criminal gangs.

It’s also worth noting that the state which has had constitutional carry the longest – Vermont, which has never passed any restrictions on the practice and thus effectively has had permitless carry since its admission to the Union in 1791 – also has the lowest homicide rate in the country, along with ranking among the states with the lowest violent crime and gun crime. Vermont’s two neighbors, New Hampshire and Maine, have also had constitutional carry since 2017 and 2015, respectively, and consistently rank among the top five safest states in the country, per CDC data.

And of course, many of these gun death statistics are already inflated by adding in figures for suicide by gun.

However, despite ample data suggesting that upholding the Second Amendment leads to less gun violence, blue states and Democrats in Washington are still trying to further restrict the rights of responsible gun owners. On this issue as well as many others, it seems that the left still can’t just trust the science.

Shane Harris is a writer and political consultant from Southwest Ohio. You can follow him on Twitter @ShaneHarris513.