Kentucky's New Concealed Carry Law Goes into Effect Today. Will Crime Increase?
Today Kentucky becomes one of 15 states that do not require a permit to carry a concealed firearm. The new law does not change where individuals can carry weapons, and with a small exception for certain misdemeanor convictions, does not change who can lawfully possess a firearm. In fact, Kentuckians could already “open carry” – that is, carry a weapon in plain sight, without a permit.
Permit-less Carry States are among the safest states in the country
According to U.S. News & World Report, five of the ten “safest” states in the country – as measured by violent and property crime rates – are permit-less carry states, including all three of the safest, New Hampshire, Vermont, and Maine.
Maine became a permit-less carry state in October of 2015, New Hampshire did in February of 2017, and Vermont has never had a permit requirement for carrying a concealed firearm.
Maine, for example, averaged 22.6 homicides from 2009-2018. Each year since the adoption of permit-less carry has seen homicides below the ten-year average, all while battling one of the worst opioid crises in the nation.
What Does the Research Say?
To date, there has been little peer-reviewed research done on what if any the effects are of a state moving to a constitutional carry system. What is often cited in the media is research on shall issue laws, or so-called, “right-to-carry” laws. These laws still require a permit and fees, and Kentucky had been a right to carry state from 1998 until today. Twenty-six states are currently right to carry states. While there is not an academic consensus on the effect of right to carry laws, that research is not particularly relevant to this conversation.
One recent paper, however, did look at the general effect of states moving from more-restrictive to less-restrictive gun laws, including moving to a permit-less carry system. Researchers looked at a 30 year period from 1986-2015 and looked at state level concealed-carry legislation. States were evaluated each year on a scale including “no carry,” “may issue,” “shall issue,” and “unrestricted carry.” Unrestricted carry is permit-less carry.
“During the study period, all states moved to adopt some form of concealed-carry legislation, with a trend toward less restrictive legislation. After adjusting for state and year, there was no significant association between shifts from restrictive to nonrestrictive carry legislation on violent crime and public health indicators. Adjusting further for poverty and unemployment did not significantly influence the results.”
So Will This New Law Increase Crime?
It’s a question we first examined two years ago, and after looking at additional data and research, the answer remains the same; probably not.