Monday, September 28, 2015

Wisconsin sees 20 percent increase in crime since Concealed Carry passed

Promise from Gov. Walker in 2011 that state would be safer untrue

Every year when the FBI releases its crime stats, I make certain to follow up on a claim that Gov. Scott Walker made in 2011. And since the FBI released its crime stats for the year 2014, it’s time once again to revisit that claim.

In a signing ceremony where he put his signature to a new bill that would make concealed carry into law, the governor made the lofty claim that citizens in Wisconsin would be safer because of the new legislation.

Since that time I have pointed out on numerous occasions that Wisconsin has not been safer due to the law. In fact, more crime, not less, has come to our state.

In the graphs below we see that crime in Wisconsin was already on a decline from 2009 to 2011 (I consider most of 2011 to be a non-concealed carry year, since Walker signed the law in November). In those three years violent crime decreased by more than seven percent.

In the three years after concealed carry was passed, Wisconsin saw a 22 percent increase in the rate of violent crime, as well as a 20 percent increase in the state’s murder rate.

(Blue represents the years before concealed carry; red, the years after it was signed.)

Concealed carry wasn’t the only gun law that Gov. Walker signed. And Walker also made drastic cuts that affected law enforcement across the state.

But I highlight the concealed carry law because Walker specifically stated that it would make the state safer. This analysis doesn’t show that Wisconsin is less safe because of concealed carry, but it does demonstrate that the governor’s claim (that it would make us safer) was untrue.

One other interesting note to point out: overall, crime in the U.S. went down from 2013 to 2014 by a rate of about one percent. Over that same time period, crime in Wisconsin shot up by about 4.4 percent.

It’s clear that whatever Walker & Co. have done for the state to prevent crime, it isn’t working. No amount of NRA-backed legislation can change that fact.

All data derived from the FBI Crime in the United States website.


  1. Gosh. Violent crime is down nationally 50% since "shall issue" concealed carry became law in most states.

    What's wrong with Wisconsin citizens? Were they itching to be violent but couldn't before they took a class, got finger printed and had a thorough background check?

    Very strange...

    1. A lot of it has to do with reductions in policing budgets as well. As I stated above, this isn't necessarily an indictment of concealed carry, but more of a criticism of Scott Walker's claim that CC would reduce crime. It didn't, and it doesn't on its own. Furthermore, we should look at HOW we do concealed carry in Wisconsin...copy the states with better success records, etc. Clearly, something isn't working here.

  2. Chris, you are correct to point out the study doesn't show that the state is less safe because of concealed carry, but it is important to also note that it doesn't indicate that we are less safe WITH concealed carry than we would have been without it. Walker didn't specifically claim that concealed carry would decrease crime below the level at the time. Rather, he indicated that it would make Wisconsin more safe, which I take to mean "than we would be without it". There is no way to know from these data whether the crime rate would have been even higher without concealed carry, so you can't reasonably conclude that Walker didn't tell the truth.
    Beyond that, though, I think you're using the term "untrue" in a manner that is disingenuous and a bit unfair. This is common technique that is used by both sides to claim that the other side "lied". For something to be a lie, there needs to be an intent to deceive. In this case, you are using the term "untrue" in a way that equates it with "lie". It would be more appropriate to say that Walker's claim was "inaccurate", if indeed you could say that, which, as I explained, you can't.
    Republicans do this to Obama all the time, and it isn't okay then, either. Case in point: health care costs are going up. That doesn't mean that Obama "lied" about the ACA, and while his claims that it would lower costs turned out to be technically untrue, I think it's more fair to say that the analysis was flawed or that that statement turned out to be inaccurate. To be fair, though, we fall into that same trap as we do here with Walker: maybe health care costs would have been even higher than they are now without the ACA, even if they are higher now than they were then. No way to know.

    1. Thank you for your comment. While I disagree with many of the things you state, I do appreciate your candidness and contribution to the conversation. I invite you to comment more on the site in the future.

      You make an excellent point, that perhaps we are safer for having concealed carry – that, perhaps crime would be even higher had it not been implemented. But there are a couple of points that need to be addressed with that assessment.

      You liken my statistical claim to the health care claim that the GOP makes about Obamacare. While health care premiums were going up in the years previous to the law, it seems that the law has slowed those rate hikes down somewhat. The same cannot be said statistically for the rate of crime in Wisconsin. The state was seeing a steady drop in crime in the years before concealed carry was passed. After it was implemented, the crime rate went up.

      And as I pointed out in the blog, the crime rate nationally actually went down last year, while in Wisconsin it went up. Surely something is amiss in the state if, on average, the nation saw a better situation than what we did. We want to be part of the nation that sees a better outcome on crime, and we shouldn’t be content with the results we’re getting.

      Walker’s promise in 2011 was, as said by him during the signing ceremony I cite above, as follows: “By signing concealed carry into law today we are making Wisconsin safer for all responsible, law abiding citizens.” That was his simple statement – nothing else was added to it. It isn’t so much of a stretch as to call that statement “untrue” – it IS untrue, the state ISN’T safer – and with comments from other officials in support of this measure (look at Sherriff Clarke if you need an example) it’s clear that people thought that concealed carry was going to make things better in the state, the governor included.

      We can’t definitively say that concealed carry RESULTED in the higher crime rate. But I think it’s pretty safe to say it didn’t make things safer in the state. We were trending downward in the three years before its implementation. And in none of the three years since it became law has the crime rate been at or lower than the levels in the three years preceding it.

      It’s clear from comments Walker made that his plan to make Wisconsin safer included concealed carry legislation. Wisconsin isn’t safer, in spite of that legislation being passed. We can, at the very least, say that Walker’s ambitions were a failure. As part of his plan to make the state safer, concealed carry did not work as implemented. That is what I was trying to say in the post above.

  3. Simple question: What does "violent crime" have to do with a concealed carry law?

    What is the connection, the correlation?

    Same with the murder rate?

    IMO, neither has anything, at all, to do with whether we have a CC law in WI.

    I don't mind chucking rocks at Walker...have at that, and the more the better...but let's not pretend that guns, or concealed carry are politically divided. I know as many of either party who own guns, and who have CC permits.

    Concealed Carry is a personal choice to take responsibility for your own safety, and possibly that of your loved ones, in a deadly situation...nothing more, nothing less.

    People who want to put their lives in the hands of the police - who will show up just in time to count the bodies - should do that. Those who don't want to do that should not have really is that simple.

    People who don't want to carry...shouldn't carry. Why they would care if other do is a mystery.