Concealed Handgun License Statistics

Well, as many of you know (at least I hope), I am a certified concealed handgun license instructor in the State of Texas.  As such, I’m an avid supporter of our second amendment right to keep and bear arms.  I believe that if we don’t exercise our rights they will eventually be taken away from us.  I don’t think this will happen in the form of a swift movement where all guns are confiscated and destroyed.  Rather, I think the degradation of this right will be a slow, painful process through regulation and red tape.  It will happen incrementally, and before we realize what has happened, that right will be something of legend that grandparents can tell their grand children about.  I sincerely hope I’m wrong.

This leads me to the point of this entry.  As an instructor, I am constantly meeting people who are anti-gun and believe in more gun control and regulation.  The mindset of these folks simply eludes me.  Gun control will never equal a reduction in crime.  Chicago and Washington DC are two prime examples of this.  Both of these cities have had the strictest gun laws in the country.  Until the last year, it has been basically illegal to possess a gun in these areas, and even though SCOTUS ruled these bans unconstitutional, they’ve made so much red tape to obtain one legally that it is still nearly impossible to own a gun legally there.  Despite that fact, these two cities have some of the worst crime (gun-related crime) in our country.  How can that be?

Now, if you look at states like Texas, Arizona, Oklahoma, Utah, etc.  These states, as a whole have far less gun crime than similarly populated areas with more gun control.  There is simply no getting around the fact that an armed society is a polite society.  Utah is one of the few places in the country that has allowed concealed carry of guns onto college campuses.  They have done this for many years, and in all that time there has never been any occurrence of a college shooting on campus there.  This has been said in countless gun arguments but it’s validity is sound.  Gun control laws only restrict law-abiding citizens, not criminals.  A man about to commit a crime in a gun-free zone (like a college campus at say Virginia Tech) isn’t going to change his mind because carrying a gun there is illegal; however, if it was not a gun-free zone, he might seriously think twice about the crime he’s going to commit.

In the State of Texas, you must pass a rigorous background check and be a pretty upstanding citizen to obtain a concealed handgun license.  The criteria are roughly as follows:

  • Must be a legal resident for 6 months preceding the application date
  • Must be at least 21 years of age
  • Must never have been convicted of a felony
  • Must not be currently charged with commission of a Class A or B misdemeanor or felony
  • Must not be chemically dependant
  • Must be capable of exercising sound judgment with respect to the proper use and storage of a handgun
  • Must not, in the 5 years preceding the application date, been convicted of a Class A or B misdemeanor, or an offense under Section 42.01 Penal Code
  • Is fully qualified under applicable federal and state laws to purchase a handgun
  • Must not be finally determined to be delinquent in making child support payments
  • Must not be finally determined to be delinquent in the payment of tax or other money collected by the comptroller, the tax collector of a political subdivision of the state, or any agency or subdivision of the state
  • Must not be currently restricted under a court protective order or subject to a restraining order affecting the spousal relationship, other than a restraining order solely affecting property interests.
  • Must not, in the 10 years preceding the application date been adjudicated as having engaged in delinquent conduct violating a felony grade penal law
  • Must not make any material representation or failure to disclose any material fact in an application pursuant to section 411.174
  • Active Duty or Honorably Discharged veterans must be at least 18
    or equivalent offense

    That being said, it’s fairly difficult to obtain a CHL, and the people that do are most likely very good people, so why should we restrict their right to protect themselves and their loved ones?  So why do I mention all of this?  Well the answer is that the Brady Campaign along with other anti-gun groups and people always make the argument that more gun control will reduce crime.  It is simply untrue.  Furthermore, the anti-gun crowd argues that less gun control, and specifically allowing more relaxed concealed carry laws will lead to more blood running in the streets and basically a chaotic state of affairs where people with guns will go on rampages against society.

    The Texas Department of Public Safety Concealed Handgun Licensing Service has compiled some statistics pertaining to CHLs.  I have taken their data and compiled them into charts to illustrate the proven track record of CHL holders in Texas.

    CHLs Issued

    CHLs Issued by Year in Texas

    This chart shows the number of CHLs issued by year and gender in the State of Texas from the inception of the program in 1995 through 12/31/2009.

    CHLs Denied, Suspended, or Revoked

    Denials, Suspensions, and Revocations of CHLs in Texas

    This chart shows the number of licenses that have been denied, suspended, or revoked from the inception of the program through 12/31/2009.  I listed the requirements at the beginning of this entry.  As you can see, the number denials is relatively low when compared with the number of issued licenses.  In fact, I had to split it into two charts because having them together makes it almost unreadable due to the disparity between the numbers.  You’ll notice also that the numbers of suspensions and revocations is very small.

    Active CHL Holders By Year

    Active CHL Holders By Year

    This chart shows the number of Active CHL Holders by year from inception of the program in Texas through 12/31/2009.  As you can see the number of CHL Holders has increased considerably through the years.  Oddly, we haven’t seen a huge increase in the number of gun-related crimes that would be consistent with this chart of growth by CHL Holders.

    Total Convictions in Texas

    Total Convictions (By CHL Holders and Non-CHL Holders) in Texas By Year

    As you can see by the caption, this chart shows the number of convictions in Texas by year.  This data includes both CHL Holders and Non-CHL holders (ie everyone).  I put this here as a point of reference for the next chart which will show the number of CHL holder convictions in Texas for the same time frames.  I tried to merge them together but the numbers were so disparate that you could not make out the CHL numbers at all. Also this chart and the charts below only have data from 1996 – 2007.  The Department of Public Safety has not yet released the 2008 and 2009 data on their website, so I could not include it.  It was definitely not purposefully left off of these charts.

    CHL Holder Convictions in Texas By Year

    CHL Holder Convictions in Texas By Year

    As you can see these numbers are insignificant when compared with the total number of convictions in Texas. It is evident that CHL holders do not pose a more significant threat to other citizens than non-CHL holders.

    Percent of Total Convictions by CHL Holders

    Percent of Total Convictions by CHL Holders

    Now, you’ll see here that this chart shows, in blue, the % of total convictions in Texas that were committed by CHL Holders.  There isn’t a single year where this percentage is higher than 0.5%.  That is definitely saying something.  Clearly the anti-gun crowd is just flat wrong about their predictions of mass bloodshed by less stringent gun laws.  I will admit the least accurate section of this entire page is in regards to the red parts of the chart above.  This is my attempt to show the percentage of CHL Holders to Population in the same chart showing % of CHL Holder Convictions to full population convictions.  My thought was to show that as population increases, CHL holder convictions do not.  Unfortunately, this data isn’t readily available on the DPS website.  So, I took the most recent (2009) Census data from the US Census Bureau, and calculated this figure, by year, for the % of Texans over 18.  If I could have had figures for over 21, that would have been better, but they did not have those figures.  Also, I didn’t have a breakdown by year, so I used the 2009 population data for every year between 1996 and 2007.  This is obviously in error as the population has not stayed static for that date range.  So, the increase in the number of CHL holders as it relates to population is not accurate.  If I had the correct population numbers for each year, then the data would be far more in favor of making CHL holders look good.

    Sources

    Conclusion

    The bottom line here is that no matter how badly the anti-gun crowd would like to paint CHL holders as gun-crazed lunatics, the data simply does not exist to support their argument.  The fact is, that nearly every CHL holder I’ve ever met has been polite, level-headed, and respectful to myself and others.  Perhaps if places like Virginia Tech had allowed concealed carry of guns by law abiding citizens, the devastation of the tragedy that occurred there could have been significantly less than it was.

    Well folks, that’s all for now, and remember to always watch your six!


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