For years now, John R. Lott has been publishing the best data on concealed carry permit holders across the United States. I have been so busy that I neglected to recognize his 2020 report. which is available on the Social Science Research Network (SSRN) site.
According to Lott’s estimates, there are currently 19.48 million concealed carry permit holders in the United States. This is up from 2.7 million in 1999 and 8 million in 2011. This represents not simply a numeric increase, but a large increase in the proportion of the U.S. adult population with permits, from 1.3% in 1999 to 7.6% in 2020 (p. 6, Figure 1b).
These increases are taking place at the same time that a growing number of states have passed permitless carry laws. For example, the percentage of the population in Oklahoma that has a concealed carry permit has declined since the state passed permitless carry (p. 3).
Other highlights of the 2020 report include:
- Outside of the highly-populous and restrictive states of California and New York, 9.2% of the adult population has a permit (p. 3). Excluding all nine may issue states, the permitting rate is 9.9% in the other 41 states — nearly 1 in 10 (p. 15)
- Alabama (28.5%), Indiana (18.7%), and Iowa (15%) have the highest permitting rates in the country. Hawaii (0.0%), New Jersey (0.02%), and Rhode Island (0.23%) have the lowest (Vermont excluded as has always had permitless carry, pp. 20-22, Table 2).
- In the 14 states that provide data by gender, women are over a quarter (26.4%) of permit holders. In states where comparisons are possible, permitting among women has grown much faster than for men (pp. 4, 30).
- In 4 states that provided data on permitting by race between 2015 and 2020 (Arizona, Louisiana, Oklahoma, Texas), the permitting rate for Blacks and Asians grew faster than for Whites (p. 30).
Some figures from the report that show these changes follow. There is much more in the report than is covered here. Depending on your particular interests, I am sure you can find something insightful and useful.