"Over 3,700 CCW permit holders have been arrested for crimes including murder in Texas."
This argument is the result of a study by the Violence Policy Center
released, perhaps not coincidentally, prior to the 2000 presidential election. The VPC is a gun control advocacy group that releases dozens of studies annually.
In this instance, the VPCís numbers are correct. However, the group did not break out the data provided by the Texas Department of Public Safety into violent vs. nonviolent crimes. Most importantly, the VPC did not compare the departmentís data to the public at large.
There are 217,000 CCW permit holders in Texas. This figure gives us our control population for permit holders in that state for the period 1996 to 2000.
The VPC study asserts that the licensees were arrested for violent crimes at a rate of 194 per 100,000 population, but did not mention that the rate for the rest of the public for those same crimes is 730 per 100,000. Nor did the VPC mention that 55% of those licensees arrested were later cleared of the charges.
Let's look at the VPC's numbers for non-violent crimes, which constitute the majority of the arrests. They report an arrest rate for Texas licensees of 639 per 100,000, but ignore the rate of 5,212 per 100,000 for the general public. Included in the VPC offenses are crimes such as marijuana possession, drunken driving, credit card abuse, and even hunting with an artificial light.
But it is the murder arrest suggestion that is the most serious. If a person kills another, even in self-defense, that person is going to be arrested for murder. Police officers do not have the power to dismiss charges. This is the job of the district attorney, who can decline to press charges, convene a grand jury, or go to trial.
From 1996 to 2000, 27 Texas permit holders were arrested for murder. Of these, 8 had the charges immediately dismissed. The remaining 19 went to jury trial, where 16 were found to have acted in self-defense. Three were convicted, which gives us a homicide
rate of .35 per 100,000 permit holders annually. Compare this to homicide rate for the general public of 5.5 per 100,000.
Florida also provides detailed data on permit holders. From 10/1/87 through 9/30/01, Florida issued 780,840 CCW permits. During that period, only 1,396 permits were revoked for crimes committed after licensure. As of 1996, the Florida Secretary of Stateís office reported that only five permit revocations were the result of a conviction for a violent crime.
A group as large as the permit-carrying population is bound to have a few miscreants in its midst. That is simple human nature. However, data from every shall-issue state shows that permit holders are overwhelmingly more law-abiding than the average citizen.