Concealed Carry / Firearms

Survey on Attitudes Toward Concealed Carry Commissioned by Everytown for Gun Safety

57% of likely 2016 voters ‘support allowing citizens to carry concealed handguns in public, including 40% who strongly feel this way.’

I usually don’t take “research” produced or disseminated by Everytown for Gun Safety very seriously, but browsing around their site recently I came across a memorandum by Kevin Ingham of Strategies 360, a Seattle-based political and corporate strategy firm (for lack of a better description).

Strategies 360 Survey Snip

The memorandum (which also appears below in full) summarized some of the results of a survey of 1,508 likely 2016 voters nationwide, conducted by Strategies 360 from 23-28 February 2015. (The margin of error for this sample size is +/- 2.5% at the 95% confidence level.) The selection of “likely 2016 voters” is obviously connected to Everytown’s political agenda, reminding us again that this poll was not conducted for purposes of advocacy not scientific understanding. I think it is worthwhile, nonetheless, to see what we can learn from it.

There were two questions of interest to me, one about concealed carry generally and one about permitless (a.k.a. “Constitutional”) carry. Neither question is phrased ideally, but the latter is phrased much worse than the former. I do not have access to the raw data, so my summary of the findings is based on the memorandum.

Carrying in General

Respondents to the survey were asked: “In general, do you think it should be legal or illegal to carry a concealed handgun in public places.”

I would have preferred for this question to specify whether the concealed carry required a license/permit or not. Some respondents probably assumed this was referring to licensed/permitted carry, while others might have imagined permitless carry. So, whatever positive responses there are to this question can probably be assumed to be a low estimate of people’s feelings toward licensed concealed carry.

In any event, the survey revealed that 57% of likely 2016 voters “support allowing citizens to carry concealed handguns in public, including 40% who strongly feel this way.” By contrast, 40% of respondents say that concealed carry ought to be illegal, including 32% who feel strongly about this.

Not surprisingly, the strongest supporters of lawful concealed carry among likely voters are gun owners (81%), Republicans (76%, compared to 39% of Democrats), conservatives (71%), and those living in the South (63%) and rural areas (70%). “The Northeast is the only region in which more voters oppose (49%) than support (46%).”

A majority of white likely voters support concealed carry (62%) and a majority of African American (54%) and Latino (53%) likely voters oppose it, as defined by this question, according to the memorandum.

Permitless Carry

The second question posed by Strategies 360 is by far more problematic. In full it reads:

Currently, most states require a permit to carry a concealed handgun in a public place. Typically, to obtain a permit, a person must pay a processing fee, complete a basic gun safety course and have a clean criminal record. Some have proposed removing the permit requirement and making it legal for gun owners to carry a concealed handgun without needing to go through a permitting process. Do you support or oppose allowing citizens to carry concealed handguns in public places if they don’t have a permit?

I am sure readers of this blog can highlight other problems, but the problem that struck me immediately was suggesting in the criteria for getting a permit that the individuals “have a clean criminal record,” which implies that in permitless carry the individual does not have to have a clean criminal record. But, of course, to legally carry without a permit once must be able to legally possess the gun being carried. This is elided in the way the question was phrased.

With this phrasing, the memorandum reports that “voters almost unanimously oppose concealed carry without a permit (11% support, 88% oppose).” In addition,

  • Intensity of opposition is very high. 79% of voters are strongly
  • Every region of the country expresses opposition, including the West (88% opposed), Midwest (89%), South (85%) and Northeast (90%).
  • Even gun owners (80% oppose) and those with a concealed carry permit (78% oppose) take a strong stand in opposition.
  • Bipartisan opposition reaches rare levels, including 95% of Democrats, 88% of independents, and 80% of Republicans.

I don’t know what percentage of the American public actually supports or opposes permitless carry. But I would like to know. Unfortunately, this survey’s awkwardly phrased question does not get us much closer to knowing.

Full text of the memorandum follows.

everytown ccw-release-memo_Page_1everytown ccw-release-memo_Page_2

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7 thoughts on “Survey on Attitudes Toward Concealed Carry Commissioned by Everytown for Gun Safety

  1. Hello Mr. Yamane,

    As a permit holder in a “shall issue” state, I struggle with the constitutional carry movement. The typical argument I see is that the Second Amendment is the permit so to speak (actually that you can’t “permit” something that is a “right”). Obviously I believe in the right to self defense. However, after attending a permit to carry class, I can tell you that I, and all the other students in it, learned a great deal, and this knowledge without question makes us more responsible and safer gun owners. Simply put, in most of these classes, there is knowledge all people that may need to defend themselves should have, and should probably continue to receive as laws and legal precedence evolves over time. Therefore, I am not sure we should adopt a “permitless system” for carrying weapons in public.

    Are you aware of any research with regards to lawful and unlawful use of firearms in “permit” versus “permitless” states? It would be interesting to see if my concerns are founded or not.

    Respectfully,
    Erik

    PS does the second sentence of the second paragraph contain a typo?

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  2. I am sure readers of this blog can highlight other problems,

    I notice they didn’t mention the cost to get a permit; I wonder if people knew it cost a lot of money ($140 for the License, $10 for finger print, $9 for photographs, $5 proficiency test fee) – in addition to the cost of the class (some go for as low as $50 some as high as $200).

    The other issue I keyed in on is the phrasing; “do you support or oppose…..without a permit”. I wonder how the outcome would have been if they had said something like “Do you support or oppose the state prohibiting people from exercising their right without a permit”?

    Many people may think a permit is a good idea but oppose the state prohibiting an action without the permit. I support people getting training; the state has no business dictating that it is done and how much. I support people being competent with their firearms; the state has no business defining what that means.

    A third issue, as I think about this, is they primed the pump or poisoned the well as you mentioned but more than just the ‘clean record’ — the requirement for training implies those who carry without a permit don’t get training or know how to safely carry. “Gee, do you want unsafe, criminals being able to carry firearms concealed without a permit?” Well no. Never mind the fact that already is what happens.

    Bob S.

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  3. I live in Montana, which allows permitless carry of a concealed weapon throughout the state, except within an incorporated city’s limits. This year our legislators managed to put a permitless carry within city limits bill on our governor’s desk; he promptly vetoed it.

    Now in principle, I support permitless carry. However, since I started a side business professionally teaching civilians about firearms safety and defensive shooting, my faith in the majority of people to be responsibly armed is shaky. Now that I am paying attention, I read far too many news stories about irresponsible gun handling and poor judgement calls. Many of my students, who prove to even themselves how badly they needed training, only sought any, because they were required to have a firearms safety certificate to acquire a CWP. Cynics will point out that permitless carry would have probably killed my business off completely. However, money is not why I choose to teach. I knew full well when I presented myself as a training option for women seeking firearms instruction that I’d be lucky to see any profit.

    No, what I’ve seen and heard from otherwise rational and responsible people has rattled me. Our “gun culture” (or Hollywood’s consistently horrible display of poor gun handling) has apparently numbed far too many into believing that firearms can be treated casually and require no training and practice to use safely. Then whenever something negative or tragic occurs, it’s not their fault. “The gun just went off.”

    If I didn’t focus on statistics that support claims that the overwhelming majority of gun owners do not experience any of what Claude Werner terms “negative outcomes,” I’d end up not supporting permitless carry and be a hypocritical Libertarian.

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    • Janine,

      However, since I started a side business professionally teaching civilians about firearms safety and defensive shooting, my faith in the majority of people to be responsibly armed is shaky.

      I wonder if your opinion is formed based on society as a whole; the gun owners at the range, the hunters in the field, the average citizen or is it based on the people who self select to take training?
      Often those with the worst skills/competencies recognize that and do the responsible thing to get training. However, that can lead to the belief that everyone has the same level of skill exhibited in the student population.

      Our “gun culture” (or Hollywood’s consistently horrible display of poor gun handling) has apparently numbed far too many into believing that firearms can be treated casually and require no training and practice to use safely.

      I also wonder if the media’s obvious anti-gun bias isn’t contributing to this. They interview someone for 20 minutes or more only to take a 15 second quote to use on air. They choose which people to highlight; ever notice how few times someone who uses a firearm to defend themselves without firing a shot gets air time; how little we hear about the times someone shoots the bad guy without harming others gets publicized?

      I live in a major metropolitan area, I keep pretty close tabs on the news. Even in conservative Texas. it is apparent the media is deliberately down playing positive stories and trumpeting the negative ones. A recent example of this was the Open Carry advocates actions last year. In one story, they reported –repeatedly — the employees of a fast food restaurant hid in the freezer. Despite the fact the chain spokesman stated that didn’t happen, despite the fact the manager of the store posed for pictures with OC knuckleheads, despite the fact the picture showed several employees in the background casually watching.

      I’m just trying to figure out if the people you see are representative of the 50+ million gun owners or not.

      Bob S.

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      • Bob, I often wonder whether the gun owners I meet locally on ranges and gun shows (and most especially the unconsciously incompetent students who only sought training to obtain a piece of paper that proves they received a government-mandated minimum level of training) are truly representative of the millions of American gun owners. Sadly, more than half of the gun owners I meet admit that they have never self-selected to take a firearms safety course, let alone a defensive pistol shooting course. Although there are always exceptions, they are generally confident that they don’t need any training. I consider them to be incompetent, because at certain venues, such as fun shoots on local shooting ranges and gun shows, I witness too many careless or cavalier simultaneous violations of two or more of the Four Cardinal Firearms Safety Rules. Also, conversations I’ve participated in or have overheard showcased their ignorance about self-defense law and how our legal system functions.

        With regard to figuring out whether my negative experiences are an accurate representation of the whole, I am doing my best to withhold judgement and be agnostic. Despite knowledge about how the anti-gun biases of journalists, editors, publishers, and the creators of social media algorithms that determine on what content to show and what to hide, it is impossible for me to ignore the content of the negative news stories I read. A while back I started using Google Alerts to send me news reports that featured the keyword woman paired with keywords, such as firearms, guns, self-defense, and shooting. My motivation for doing so was to find stories to counter the anti-gun crowd’s attempts to dissuade women from using personal protection firearms, and to celebrate success stories. Unfortunately, I’ve seen a slow, steady increase in stories about irresponsibly armed women that counters my admittedly sexist bias that most women new to shooting and gun ownership will seek training and a reliable education before carrying a personal protection pistol.

        What I focus on to help me navigate the choppy waters of doubt about permitless carry are libertarian principles. Further, I believe that most people who are willing to sacrifice my ability to have a chance to effectively defend myself from a violent attack are embracing an illusion of safety rather than actually being safer. So, given my choice to live as freely as I can, I have to continue supporting permitless carry. As an individual, I will try to find purpose in helping those who choose to be armed improve their odds of not being featured in any future negative Google Alert I read.

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  4. “my faith in the majority of people to be responsibly armed is shaky. Now that I am paying attention, I read far too many news stories about irresponsible gun handling and poor judgement calls”

    My experience is about the same but two things have not come out in this discussion so far. First, the chance of an individual ever using a firearm in self-defense is pretty small though the chance of a shooting in self-defense happening must grow as more and more people carry firearms (actually carry them as opposed by being able to do so). And then there is what I call the ‘George Zimmerman effect’. Zimmerman defended himself and society punished him severely. I think that is a form of social control that will influence people perhaps from shooting or even carrying but I cannot say how much.

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  5. Interesting commentaries all. Thanks for contributing. Having taken classes and learned alot about armed self-defense from the likes of Massad Ayoob, Tom Givens, and Andrew Branca, it makes me nervous when people are able to carry firearms in public without a full understanding of the law and practice of use of lethal force. To me that is the most important part of concealed carry classes. Not how to shoot, but when you can shoot.

    At the same time, I don’t know of any evidence that says individuals who take concealed carry courses are any safer than those who do not. Or those who live in states that require extensive courses (North Carolina) are any safer than those that require minimal courses (Virginia). If that data exists, I would be interested in hearing about it!

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