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Study shows concealed handgun permits soared during pandemic, record year-over-year increase

A new study shows that the number of concealed handgun permits soared in 2020 during the coronavirus pandemic and has increased over 10% since the end of last year.

According to a study conducted by the Crime Prevention Research Center, the number of concealed handgun permits surged to 21.52 million in 2020, a 48% increase since 2016 and a 10.5% increase from the same time last year.

The number of permit holders grew by a record 2 million last year which is 200,000 more than the previous record set in 2017, the study says, and adds that 8.3% of American adults have permits. In 15 states, more than 10% of adults have permits. The highest concealed carry rate is in Alabama where 32.1% of adults have permits followed by Indiana and Iowa where the rate is 21.6% and 16.5% respectively. 

Additionally, the study found that permit holders tend to be law abiding.

“Permit holders are extremely law-abiding,” the study says. “In Florida and Texas, permit holders are convicted of firearms related violations at one-twelfth of the rate at which police officers are convicted.”

John R. Lott Jr, president of the Crime Prevention Research Center, told Fox News that increased crime and the defund the police movement have contributed to the rise in gun permits.

“The reason for the increase is the same as the increase in gun sales over the last two years, increased crime and concerns that police aren’t able to do their job and that large numbers of inmates released from jails and prisons,” Lott said.

Lott added that the increase would likely have been larger if not for coronavirus lockdowns that halted the or greatly reduced issuing permits in 20 states. 

“These numbers are particularly topical given that the U.S. Supreme Court will hear the concealed carry case of New York State Rifle & Pistol Association V. Corlett in November,” the study states.  “That case will determine whether those requesting permits need to provide a ‘proper cause’ for obtaining a permit. The eight states with that rule have issued permits to only 1.24% of their adult population.”

If the “proper cause” regulation were to be overturned, the study suggests that 2.3 million more permits could be issued in the affected states.

The study also notes that women and minorities make up a significant percentage of the increase in gun permits. 

“In 2021, women made up 28.3% of permit holders in the 14 states that provide data by gender, an increase from the 26.4% last year,” the study says. “Seven states had data from 2012 to 2020/2021, and permit numbers grew 108.7% faster for women than for men.”

Additionally, three states that provide detailed race and gender data show “remarkably larger increases in permits for minorities compared to whites.”

“In Texas, black females saw a 6.3 times greater percentage increase in permits than white males from 2002 to 2020,” according to the study. “Oklahoma data from 2002 to 2020 indicated that the increase of licenses approved for Asians and American Indians was more than twice the rate for whites. North Carolina had black permits increase twice as fast as whites from 1996 till 2016.”

The study added, “From 2015 to 2020/2021, in the four states that provide data by race over that time period, the number of Asian people with permits increased 93.2% faster than the number of whites with permits. Blacks appear to be the group that has experienced the largest increase in permitted concealed carry, growing 135.7% faster than whites.”

Andrew Mark Miller is a writer at Fox News. Follow him on Twitter @andymarkmiller and email tips to



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