Friday, December 12, 2014

Has concealed carry made WI safer? The evidence says no

Scott Walker's promise that concealed carry would make state safer is clearly inaccurate

“By signing concealed carry into law today we are making Wisconsin safer for all responsible, law abiding citizens.”

Those were the words of Gov. Scott Walker when he signed legislation allowing for concealed carry in the state back in 2011. The promise of the legislation was that it would make us safer. Has it?

Before I go on, it should be noted that the data provided doesn’t show whether concealed carry contributed to higher crimes -- the data is so young and the numbers so negligible that increases could be attributed to any number of things. What I’m trying to show is whether we’re safer under concealed carry or not. To see if we’re safer, we simply need to look at crime statistics since concealed carry came into play. If crime goes up, we’re not safer.

For fairness, I’ve also compiled the data of crime over the past 21 years -- from 1993 to 2013. We can simultaneously look at the effects of concealed carry as well as the effects of the federal assault weapons ban of 1994, which went into effect at the end of that year and ended in 2004.

Let’s take a visual look at the data (purple are years that the assault weapons ban was in place, green are the years concealed carry has been implemented):

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When looking at the violent crime rate in Wisconsin over the past two decades it’s clear to see that crime went down significantly from 1994 to 2004. Immediately after the assault weapons ban expired, crime went back up. In 2009 and 2010 it leveled off to around 250 violent crimes per 100,000 citizens. Following the implementation of the concealed carry law, violent crime increased again.

There was a drop in violent crime between 2012 and 2013, both years that concealed carry was in place. However, the lower year (2013) is the second highest rate in violent crime over the past five years, second to the only other year that concealed carry was fully in place for all twelve months.

What we can gather from the evidence is exactly the opposite of what gun proponents argue. Their reasoning is that less gun privileges will mean more crime, and more access to guns for law-abiding citizens will mean less crime.

Instead, less access to guns (the assault rifle ban from 1994-2004) coincided with a steady decrease in crime in Wisconsin. On the other hand, the concealed carry law coincided with a noticeable increase in crime for the two years it was fully implemented.

The number of murders in the state related to gun deaths also reflects this conclusion. Estimates from 2014 (from Wisconsin Public Radio, which has been tracking gun homicides from media reports over the year) suggest that this current year is also going to be high in terms of the number of murders committed, especially when looking at gun homicides alone.

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These increases in murders and violent crime should cause concerns for the governor and state legislators. The stats are contradictory to the statement that Walker made when he signed the concealed carry bill into law -- that “we are making Wisconsin safer.”

We’re NOT safer -- and while we can’t blame concealed carry for our increase in crime, we can certainly say with some degree of certainty that it has not achieved the end that Gov. Walker had implicitly said it would. It has failed to make crime go down in Wisconsin.

Statistics for this article came from the FBI’s Crime in the United States reports from 1993 to 2013. A full list of year-by-year crime stats is accessible here. Figures from 2014, as already noted, came from Wisconsin Public Radio.


  1. Thank you for the post, This us info that needs to be shared.

  2. What has not been considered is the reasons for the increase from 2004 to 2007...There appears to be a cycle of sorts in this data