Light Over Heat #28: Examining a Study of Permitless Carry Laws and Officer-Involved Shootings

NOTE: Since I recorded this video, I published an analysis of this study and one other study on Stephen Gutowski’s gun news reporting site, The Reload. The article is only available to subscribers, but a subscription is well worth the cost.

This week I look at a study that purports to show that the shift to permitless carry laws from 2014 to 2020 is associated with a rise in the number of officer-involved shootings of civilians.

The idea is that permitless carry creates more of a perceived threat among law enforcement officers, leading to more officer-involved shootings (OIS).

The paper’s abstract reads, “On average, Permitless CCW adopting states saw a 12.9% increase in the OIS victimization rate or an additional 4 OIS victimizations per year, compared to what would have happened had law adoption not occurred.”

But according to a press release announcing the article, an increase in officer involved shootings was only found in 4 of 11 states that went to permitless carry during the study period.

So, despite the headline, in a majority of states that went permitless, there was NO increase in the number of officer-involved shootings compared to the synthetic control states. Here again we see what I call “the problem with averages.”

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4 thoughts on “Light Over Heat #28: Examining a Study of Permitless Carry Laws and Officer-Involved Shootings

  1. One would need to do a deep dive into who was shot, whether the change from shall issue to permitless would have had any affect on those shootings. Also, given more than half of the states did not show an increase, one would surmise that there is something besides the switch to permitless carry that separates the rates between the states that saw an increase and the ones that did not. If I were the P.I. on this study, my first question would be “what am I missing?”

    I’m increasingly doubtful of the robustness of these synthetic studies. Obviously, states are not all alike and one wonders what is being measured and what is not. Especially when authors claim more than they can really explain. Statistics can hide a lot of things and when misused in “advocacy research” and can do more harm than good. Let’s say, the legislators go running about trying to reverse permitless carry when it is actually something else that is causing the problem?


  2. Seems the permitless vs permit paper is paywalled. With that whole question of going from permit to permitless, do we know the percentage of CCW holders in those states who actually carry. Or for that matter, the percent of people in those states who carried anyway without a permit? Was there a statistically valid poll of law enforcement officers asking them if they were more concerned after the change in law? Seems one would want to know if in those four states, more people were actually carrying than in the other six, and in those four states, it was people who would not have been carrying had the law not been changed.

    I took a quick look at the SYG paper. Seems there was nothing in there looking at whether the increase in frequency had any relationship to a SYG defense as opposed to people just shooting each other. I’m not a social scientist, but have a strong feeling that most of the shooters don’t read the law books before blazing away.


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