Concealed Carry Nudges Toward 20 Million


There are more than 3 million active carry permits in Florida, Pennsylvania and Texas alone.

The number is staggering, especially to anyone easily alarmed at the thought of private citizens legally walking the streets while armed. An estimated 19.5 million Americans are licensed to carry — and the figure continues to grow.

There are more than 3 million active carry permits in Florida, Pennsylvania and Texas alone, with hundreds of thousands more in Utah, Washington and Georgia. And as this column was being written, Arizona listed more than 369,000 active carry permits — not bad for a state where no permit is needed.

With an estimated 5 million first-time gun owners over the past seven months, interest in concealed carry is keeping firearms instructors busy, as well as law enforcement agencies responsible for issuing carry permits and licenses.

Author and researcher John Lott estimates there are at least 19.5
million citizens licensed to carry in the U.S.

The CCW estimate comes from author and researcher John Lott, founder and president of the Crime Prevention Research Center. During a presentation at the recent virtual Gun Rights Policy Conference, Lott noted there were approximately 2 million active concealed carry permits/licenses in the late 1990s.

“Now,” he reported, “it’s about 19.5 million.”

That, he admitted, doesn’t count the number of armed citizens carrying without a permit or license in the 17 states that have “constitutional carry” statutes allowing carry with no license at all. Nor does it include people in other states who are open carry advocates.


The proverbial $64 million-dollar question is what motivates so many private citizens to jump through the hoops to be armed in public?

A quick glance at the urban landscape might provide one reason. Far-left city councils in places such as Minneapolis, Seattle, Portland and New York are feverishly pushing to defund or reduce funding for police departments. People see the demonstrations that occasionally become riots, read about their police departments losing money and manpower and act quickly to make themselves and their families safer.

A few weeks ago, the National Shooting Sports Foundation (NSSF) and others estimated the COVID-19 pandemic panic combined with the violence erupting around Black Lives Matter protests led to the aforementioned 5 million new gun owners. These are people who may have formerly been gun control supporters or simply wanted nothing to do with guns.

That changed with images on the nightly news of buildings or car sales lots burning. It changed as news crews provided live shots from the middle of riot zones where masked anarchists exploited what began ostensibly as “peaceful protests” to create havoc.

A couple of weeks ago, the U.S. Department of Justice named three liberal-run cities as “jurisdictions permitting violence and destruction of property.” The media quickly shortened that to “Anarchist Jurisdictions,” and while that specific term does not appear in the official DOJ announcement, it quickly stuck.

The cities: New York City, Seattle and Portland.

While it’s tough for people in New York to buy guns, in Washington and Oregon, the law still recognizes the right to keep and bear arms. It’s been tough for citizens in either Northwest state to get a concealed carry license, but they’ve been buying guns in record numbers.

NSSF’s Joe Bartozzi provided interesting data on gun buying and ownership during the virtual GRPC.

Data Tells Interesting Story

Speaking at the recent Gun Rights Policy Conference, Joe Bartozzi, president and CEO of the NSSF had some interesting statistics about all of this recent gun buying.

Between January and July of this year, there were 12.1 million background checks initiated with the National Instant Check System (NICS) that dealt with firearms transactions, according to the NSSF-adjusted data. That’s 71% above the figure for the same period in 2019.

Of those purchases, 40% were first-time buyers, and approximately 40% of those people were women. Their primary motivation was personal protection, Bartozzi added.

Nearly half first timers were in the 40-and-under age group, and nearly half of those people fell in the under-30 age group.

First-time gun buyers spent an average of $595 on their purchases, with semi-auto handguns being the most popular gun, followed by shotguns and then semi-auto modern sporting rifles. This constitutes a change in demographics “we haven’t seen in the past,” Bartozzi stated.

During the first six months of 2020, the average increase in gun sales for retailers was a stunning 95% over last year in the same period. Meanwhile, the average increase in ammunition sales was 139%!

SAF’s Alan Gottlieb says this year’s virtual Gun Rights Conference was a huge success.

GRPC Online

This year’s Gun Rights Policy Conference (GRPC) was completely digital, and according to Alan Gottlieb, founder and executive vice president of the Second Amendment Foundation (SAF), it was “the biggest gathering of gun rights activists in the world.”

He said more than 300,000 gun rights activists across the country viewed the conference on multiple platforms. More than 4,100 people pre-registered for the 35th annual event, shattering previous records.

There were about 120 speakers covering topics from state legislative affairs to the growing interest in firearms ownership by women, Gottlieb noted in a SAF release. Several attorneys specializing in Second Amendment cases reported on activities in the courts, and what may be coming. Several journalists, radio talk hosts and bloggers offered suggestions on how grassroots activists could cultivate better relations with the media.

Gottlieb, who also chairs the Citizens Committee for the Right to Keep and Bear Arms (CCRKBA), said the event drew about 25% more speakers than past events, and there was more content. He said SAF and CCRKBA will be evaluating future conferences to “do it bigger and better next year and in the years ahead.”

Following months of riots, Portland is among three cities being labeled an
“Anarchist Jurisdiction.” (Source: KATU ABC 2)

Unflattering Words

There were some pretty unflattering descriptions of all three cities in the DOJ memorandum.

Here’s what was said about the Big Apple: “Shootings in New York City have been on the rise since looting and protests began on or about May 28, 2020. For July 2020, shootings increased from 88 to 244, an increase of 177% over July 2019. In August 2020, shootings increased from 91 to 242, a 166% increase over August 2019.”

The DOJ memo smacked Portland harder:

“This month,” DOJ noted, “Portland marked 100 consecutive nights of protests marred by vandalism, chaos, and even killing. Those bent on violence regularly started fires, threw projectiles at law enforcement officers, and destroyed property. Numerous law enforcement officers, among others, suffered injury.

“Shootings increased by more than 140% in June and July 2020 compared to the same period last year,” the memo added. “In the midst of this violence, the Portland City Council cut $15 million from the police bureau, eliminating 84 positions. Crucially, the cuts included the Gun Violence Reduction Team, which investigates shootings, and several positions from the police team that responds to emergency incidents.”

And then there’s Seattle — a city with at least one avowed Socialist on the city council.

“For nearly a month,” the memo noted, “the City of Seattle permitted anarchists and activists to seize six square blocks of the city’s Capitol Hill neighborhood, naming their new enclave the “Capitol Hill Autonomous Zone” (CHAZ) and then the “Capitol Hill Occupied Protest” (CHOP).

“Law enforcement and fire fighters were precluded from entering the territory,” DOJ recalled. “The Seattle Police Department was ordered to abandon their precinct within the CHOP. Person-related crime in the CHOP increased 525% from the same period of time in the same area the year before, including by Mayor (Jenny) Durkan’s own count ‘two additional homicides, 6 additional robberies, and 16 additional aggravated assaults (to include 2 additional non-fatal shootings).’”

If you lived in such an environment, wouldn’t you want a gun, if not two?

Bandages in Aisle Four

If you’re packing a handgun, especially without a license, it’s generally a bad idea to show it off. One guy in Oregon strayed from that and ended up with an embarrassingly placed bullet wound.

According to the Portland Oregonian, the 29-year-old was “flaunting a concealed handgun at a Lincoln City supermarket.” He was not licensed to carry that gatt, either. However, the story said, he “mistakenly pulled the trigger as he stuffed the piece back into his pants, police said. A bullet tore through the gunslinger’s groin and exited his thigh, just barely missing (his) femoral artery.” An inch or two in one direction or the other and he might have been singing soprano.

Adding insult to injury, our hapless hero might face criminal charges in the aftermath of this misadventure.

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