Has gun violence decreased in states with open carry laws? I know the laws have not been in effect for long, but I am hoping for some evidence either way. I'm looking for legitimate and unbiased sources.

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    This is a very difficult answer to resolve empirically, because it's hard to say that any changes in violence aren't caused by factors outside of the change in open carry status. For example if Maine has no open carry laws and Texas has them and crime increased in Maine relative to Texas, in order to say that the open carry law changed crime, you would have to claim that your statistical model could account for all the differences between Maine and Texas. To really answer this question with statistics there would need to be some sort of random assignment of gun laws among various places.
    – lazarusL
    Commented Oct 13, 2014 at 14:26
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    This is nigh impossible to harvest statistics for; as gun politics is an active area of adjusting laws and regulations. Removing confounding factors would be difficult. Longitudinal studies aren't much better to reduce statistical noise as many other factors also have long lead times. Consider that we still don't know why precisely urban crime dropped in 90s. Commented Oct 13, 2014 at 15:27
  • The best I could find (in terms of 'reputable' sources) is this article from the Washington Times that pretty much says "statistics don't show much linkage between crime rates and gun laws" washingtontimes.com/news/2013/jan/24/…
    – user1530
    Commented Oct 13, 2014 at 21:39
  • Let us continue this discussion in chat.
    – user1530
    Commented Oct 22, 2014 at 7:14

4 Answers 4


Gun violence has been declining for the past 30 years. See the Department of Justices Bureau of Statistics for exact statistics. That decline has continued as the number of CCW granting states increased (now 100% of U.S. states). Additionally, violent crime has also been declining over that same time frame.

In answer to the implied question of whether or not CCW laws have decreased crime or gun violence, this is unlikely to be satisfactorily resolved. There are too many confounding variables to ever be able to tease out changes in the gun violence crime rate. A confounding variable is an alternate explanation, that may equally describe the phenomenon, but which precedes or occurs independently of the causal relationship you wish to describe. In other words, there are too many alternate explanations that cannot be controlled for, such as lead in our gasoline made people more violent, and now that there is less lead there is less violence, or more access to abortion decreased the crime rate, or changes in policing towards a "broken windows" approach decreased crime. The list goes on and on. Since all of these things happened at the same time as increased CCW licensing, it is possible that the decrease is due to these things and not CCW licensing.

None of this is to say that CCWs are not decreasing gun violence rates, either, but that it is difficult to prove. I can go into greater depth of the statistical problems, but that would require a longer and more technical answer than I believe you desire.


The answer to your question YES, such crime has decreased.


A general problem in political debate is the use of regression analysis to reduce complex systems down to single variables.

Your question is different from does open carry reduce violent crime?

Here is a study that is on the anti-concealed carry side:


I supply that link as an illustration, not to make a policy point. Both gun rights supporters and gun control advocates sometimes use misleading statistics to make their points.

The reality is that the factors giving rise to violent crime are highly complex.

  • Actually he twisted it and asked about gun crime. While gun crimes may be higher, overall crimes decrease, the opposite can be seen in countries like Australia after the gun ban. I would rather be shot than shanked or beat to death. It would seem quicker and less nasty.
    – Sparta270
    Commented Dec 5, 2016 at 4:13
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    @Sparta270 - That is a subtly twisted response itself. Note that "crimes" does not equal "deaths", Being shot or stabbed is not the same as being shot or stabbed to death. And it should come as no surprise that the mortality rate for being shot is much greater than for being stabbed (which is why any sane person would prefer to use a gun for self-defense rather than a knife - the success rate is greater). So, death by stabbing may (or may not) be worse than death by gunshot, but you are much more likely to survive being stabbed than being shot. Commented Nov 13, 2017 at 16:29

stats vary in different states and the types of study that is being held. many of the studies have some bias that helps the researcher push towards the side the support which would pull bias data. Theres no way of knowing, but open carry laws aren't brand new, many states have had them. The reduce to gun crime can be due to many factors. I believe the biggest factors of gun related crime decrease are decrease in drug and alcohol use. Also a good percentage of these violent gun related crimes are committed by vets and other people suffering from intellectual disabilities. 25 years ago the Disability Act went into place which helps more people suffering from intellectual disabilities as well as the help for veterans have increased.


Yes, according to research done by Florida legislator Matt Gattez. He said that states with open carry laws have an average of 23% less crime.

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    While on the surface, the math checks out, the actual research is hardly rock-solid and fails in a lot of ways: politifact.com/florida/statements/2015/oct/09/matt-gaetz/…
    – user1530
    Commented Jan 28, 2016 at 17:28
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    I wouldn't consider research done by a state legislator to be authoritative in a meaningful way, unless he was moonlighting as a University professor, or a staffer at RAND. The bar to entry at the state legislature level does not include research methods, and frequently they will slap-dash something together for political points rather than conclusive evidence. Commented Jan 28, 2016 at 22:39
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    linking to the study that shows this or a news article that cites the same source as this legislator would help.
    – Ryathal
    Commented Feb 4, 2016 at 13:55
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    Matt Gaetz is not a reliable source of information.
    – John
    Commented Jul 23, 2019 at 0:23

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