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Congress Considering Concealed Carry Reciprocity Law


That last issue Susan was talking about known as concealed carry reciprocity is a top priority for the NRA. So again, the law would mean that if you have a permit to carry a concealed weapon in one state, other states would have to recognize that permit even if they had stricter laws. The Center for Gun Policy and Research at Johns Hopkins University looked into how concealed carry laws work in different states. With us now is the center's director, Daniel Webster, to talk about the report that was released today. Welcome to the show.


MCEVERS: We were struck in your report about the comparison between driver's licenses and concealed carry permits. Why shouldn't a gun license from one state like Virginia be valid in another, like Maryland, like driver's licenses are?

WEBSTER: Well, first of all, with driver's licenses, there's reasonably high standards that actually relate to what you're being licensed to do. You have to demonstrate in an actual motor vehicle that you can safely handle that vehicle and abide by laws and do so safely. In 30 states that require a permit to carry a concealed firearm - in 23 of those 30 states, there's some safety training requirement.

But in only 13 states do you even have to fire a weapon. And of those 13 states where you have to fire weapon, you really don't have to demonstrate that you can handle a gun in the common scenarios that you might encounter when you're carrying a gun around with you in public places. And then there are 12 states that have absolutely no permitting standards whatsoever, nothing even remotely equivalent to a driver's license in those states.

MCEVERS: You also looked into how these concealed carry laws affect gun violence. I mean, this is not an easy thing to study, right? But explain what you found.

WEBSTER: Sure. There have been a variety of studies over the years that tried to estimate the impacts of these so-called right to carry laws. In my opinion, the most rigorous studies have come out this year. What they found is that when states adopted these laws compared to states that didn't, you actually had higher rates of violent crime. Roughly over a 10-year period of having the weaker laws, by that time, as more and more people were legally carrying guns, you had a roughly 11 to 13 percent higher rate of violent crime.

MCEVERS: And it's hard to draw a direct correlation - right? - because there are so many other factors that go into this.

WEBSTER: Yeah, of course. But the research that's been conducted - there's a variety of robustness tests, if you will, controlling for a variety of factors and using different statistical techniques and showing a similar conclusion, similar type of relationship.

There are unanswered questions. We don't know for sure of those who get the permits whether they are the ones who are increasing the violent crime rate directly. Or is it because of one phenomenon that's been observed and recorded is an increase in gun thefts from cars, as more people routinely carry guns with them?

MCEVERS: You surveyed register Republican gun owners about safety standards. What was the question that you asked, and what response did you get?

WEBSTER: What we're reporting today is a question that asked whether in order to get a permit to carry a concealed firearm, that you should be able to demonstrate that you can safely handle a firearm in common situations. And we found that 83 percent of gun owners and 83 percent of Republicans said, yes, that should be the safety standards that we adhere to.

MCEVERS: So this report was funded by a Bloomberg Philanthropies - Michael Bloomberg of course former mayor of New York City, major backer of gun control. Can you explain the connection there?

WEBSTER: Sure. Michael Bloomberg and the philanthropy, Bloomberg Philanthropies, supports work that we're doing to summarize the research that's been conducted on this issue. But I'll underscore that the research that I'm citing here, save for one important survey finding that we conducted ourselves - most of this is research that's been conducted in other institutions.

MCEVERS: Daniel Webster of the Center for Gun Policy and Research at Johns Hopkins, thank you very much.

WEBSTER: Thank you. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.