More than half of the citizens of the United States live in states that issue concealed (firearm) carry licenses to those individuals who can meet clear, objective criteria. These criteria usually include no disqualifying criminal or mental health background, and frequently some level of training in the use of deadly force. As was brought out in University of Chicago Professor John Lott’s recent book, More Guns, Less Crime, states who allow properly qualified citizens to carry concealed firearms enjoy lower violent crime rates than those who don’t.

State laws regarding carrying concealed firearms vary widely. Citizens Committee for the Right to Keep and Bear Arms staff has examined the laws and procedures governing concealed carry across the United States. They then developed a “freedom index,” providing a state-by-state comparison of the level of trust each state places in its citizenry to exercise their right of self-defense.

“It is interesting to observe that those states who do not entrust their citizens with the right to defend themselves and others through concealed carry are the states with the highest rates of violent crime,” noted Alan Gottlieb, chairman of the Citizens Committee for the Right to Keep and Bear Arms. “Once again, we’ve proven that the only correlation between firearm possession and crime is one of reduced crime where citizens are given the freedom to exercise their rights.”

Several factors were considered in developing the “freedom index.” First and most critical was the adoption by a state of clear and objective criteria for license issuance. By removing the discretionary factor, favoritism and arbitrary denial are eliminated. Other factors considered included cost and duration of the license, level of training required before exercising a right, willingness of a state to recognize those licenses issued by other states (reciprocity), and the restrictions placed on where the right to carry may be exercised.

Vermont, with one of the lowest violent crime rates in the United States, allows all law-abiding citizens to carry concealed without a license. Neighboring New York, with a much higher than average violent crime rate, imposes several restrictions on a citizen’s right to defend him or herself.

“The bottom line is, concealed carry works,” said Joe Waldron, CCRKBA Executive Director. “Despite predictions of blood in the gutters and shootouts at fender-benders, in no case have these ‘Chicken Little’ forecasts come to pass. Citizens who follow the rules in obtaining concealed carry licenses follow the rest of the rules as well.”

Several states maintain detailed data on licensees’ involvement with the criminal misuse of firearms. In every case, the data shows that individuals with concealed carry licenses violate the law at a significantly lower rate than the general population.