Concealed Carry Permit Holders Across the United States: 2021

The Crime Prevention Research Center has released its annual report on “Concealed Carry Permit Holders Across the United States” for 2021, co-authored by John R. Lott (President), Carlisle E. Moody (College of William & Mary), and Rujun Wang (research associate).

This post is not going to analyze the findings in depth (though I will mention some), but is more of a PSA to let everyone know these data are now available are are worth checking out.

Most of the trends seen in earlier versions of this report continued in 2021. 8.3% of American adults have concealed carry permits, over 21.5 million people. That is a 10.5% increase over the number of permits counted in 2020.

The fact that the number of permits continues to grow at such a high rate is particularly notable because an increasing number of states allow permitless carry. Of course, as I note in my book, Concealed Carry Revolution, the dominant model of permitless carry is “Alaska Carry” (h/t reader Matthew Carberry) – the state issues but does not require a permit. But the permit is nonetheless valuable because it (typically) allows more latitude for carrying and also makes inter-state reciprocity possible.

Also notable, from my perspective, is the continuing diversification of concealed carry permit holders. This tracks with the changing face of gun owners that I spoke about recently at the annual conference of the Outdoor Writers Association of America.

Where states make the data available, the report finds the percentage of female and racial minority permit holders continue to grow faster than the percentage of white male permit holders. This is especially true of the percentage of racial minority women permit holders. Of course, beginning with a lower permitting rate facilitates this to some extent, but does not explain it entirely.

Although North Carolina stopped providing demographic data on permit holders in 2016, I did note the inclusion of a graph showing the percentage change in the number of active permit holders by race by year. As an Asian American who first received my concealed carry permit in 2011, I am well-represented in this graph.

There is so much more in this report to learn from. Truly something for everyone, depending on your particular interest. It is an essential document to have on hand.

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