Illinois Concealed Carry Laws Tied to Declining Crime, Murder Rates

Image: Illinois Concealed Carry Laws Tied to Declining Crime, Murder Rates A resident takes a class to qualify for a concealed carry permit in Posen, Illinois. (Scott Olson/Getty Images)

Monday, 25 Aug 2014 09:57 AM

By Jennifer G. Hickey

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The crime rate in Illinois has dropped by 20 percent this year and the homicide rate in Chicago just reached a 56-year low, trends which some attribute to the state's adoption of concealed carry laws, The Washington Times reported.

"It isn’t any coincidence crime rates started to go down when concealed carry was permitted. Just the idea that the criminals don’t know who’s armed and who isn’t has a deterrence effect," Richard Pearson, executive director of the Illinois State Rifle Association, told the Times.

"The police department hasn’t changed a single tactic — they haven’t announced a shift in policy or of course — and yet you have these incredible numbers," he added.

Pearson says that Illinois had 83,183 applications for concealed carry and had issued 68,549 licenses as of July 29.

In April, data was released showing the city's first-quarter homicide rate was the lowest since 1958 with six fewer murders being reported than during the same period in 2013, and 55 fewer homicides since the same time in 2012, The Huffington Post reported.

According to a 2012 report issued by the General Accounting Office, in June 2002, only seven states and the District of Columbia prohibited the concealed carry of handguns and by March 2012 all states except for Illinois and the District had concealed carry laws.

Illinois adopted its concealed carry law in 2013.

A July study issued by the Crime Prevention Research Center found that 11.1 million Americans now have permits to carry concealed weapons, up from 4.5 million in 2007.

The report drew a correlation between the increase in concealed carry permits and declining crime rates saying that between 2007 and the preliminary estimates for 2013, murder rates had dropped by 22 percent at the same time that the percentage of adults with permits rose by 130 percent.

Another urban center which has been plagued by high crime rates also is witnessing positive trends.

In 2014, Detroit has experienced 37 percent fewer robberies, 22 percent fewer break-ins of businesses and homes, and 30 percent fewer carjackings than during the same period in 2013, a trend which Detroit Police Chief James Craig attributes to a combination of improved policing and the more citizens arming themselves.

"Criminals are getting the message that good Detroiters are armed and will use that weapon. I don’t want to take away from the good work our investigators are doing, but I think part of the drop in crime, and robberies in particular, is because criminals are thinking twice that citizens could be armed," Craig told The Detroit News in July.

Some, however, do not subscribe to Craig's belief that arming citizens contributes to lower crime rates.

"Without good research, it's impossible to determine what's actually brought the city's crime rate down: policing, more civilians with guns, or some factor we've yet to discover. As has been said many times, when you conflate correlation and causation, you can come to all sorts of silly policy conclusions," John Roman, a senior fellow with the Urban Institute's Justice Policy Center wrote in a recent commentary in The Huffington Post.

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