Opposition to concealed handguns on college campuses is strong, but evidence that permit holders commit gun-related crimes on campus is tenuous.
For instance, the Violence Policy Center has tracked mass shootings committed by those with a conceal-and-carry permit since 2007 and found that permit holders have committed 29 of them.
None of them have occurred on a school campus.
The FBI defines a mass killing as four or more victims, according to USA Today. From 2000-2014, 133 mass shootings have occurred in the United States. FBI data relies on voluntary reports from law-enforcement agencies, however, and a USA Today investigation found the FBI data accuracy rate to be 57 percent, so statistics surrounding mass shootings aren’t always comprehensive.
One thing is certain: if anything, conceal-and-carry permit holders respect the law more than the general population.
Part of the reason is that “federal law has required that any purchaser involved in a commercial firearms transaction must subject himself to a background check,” since the Brady Act took effect in 1993, as Charles C.W. Cooke noted.
Indeed, except for Vermont, felons cannot legally purchase a weapon to varying degrees in 49 states, which precludes them from receiving a concealed handgun permit. In effect, when someone can legally purchase a gun, it’s a sign that their criminal record is non-existent or nominal.
Total conviction rates in Texas for permit holders who committed a crime in 2013, for example, stood at .31 percent. That covers all crime, not gun-specific crimes. Those who obtain a conceal-and-carry permit, as a whole, commit less crime than the general population.
No federal law exists that regulates the issuance of permits and licenses for a concealed handgun. Thirty-seven states grant permits on a “shall issue” basis, which means that the applicant usually has to pass a background check, but will receive the permit unless the state finds a compelling reason against approval. No permit is required in Wyoming, Alaska, Arizona, and Vermont. Connecticut has more discretion than shall-issue states, but works under a “reasonable issue” model, according to the NRA’s Institute for Legislative Action.
Background checks don’t ensure that someone will not commit a crime and use a gun. They’re only a part of a process designed to guard individual rights while protecting public safety.
In total, almost 13 million Americans have a permit for legally carrying a concealed weapon, roughly 5 percent of the total adult population, according to the Crime Prevention Research Center.
Those who speak about their concerns over conceal-and-carry permit holders on campus lack any evidence to corroborate the fear.