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California’s New Unconstitutional Concealed-Carry Ban Hurts Black People And Women Most

California State Capitol Building
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People in most states don’t think twice about concealed carry, but the data shows how out of sync California is with the rest of the country.

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As of Jan. 1, Californians are banned from carrying permitted concealed handguns in virtually the entire state. There is no evidence that permit holders have caused problems in California or elsewhere in the country, but the new law will prevent people from defending themselves. California has also jeopardized safety in recent years by cutting police budgets and electing district attorneys who refuse to prosecute violent criminals.

California now bans carrying concealed handguns in 26 types of locations, including parks, playgrounds, churches, banks, and zoos. Businesses are automatic gun-free zones unless they post signs that explicitly allow people to carry. 

But to make sure that no one carries for protection, California’s attorney general enacted new emergency rules in December that will strip nearly all firearms trainers of their licenses to train. California mandates 16 hours of training to get a permit, and this requirement will now be very difficult to fulfill.

A federal district court judge issued a preliminary injunction against the new restrictions on where permit holders can carry, saying that the law is presumptively unconstitutional and unlikely to meet the precedent set by the U.S. Supreme Court’s 2022 Bruen decision. This standard requires provisions to be “consistent with the Nation’s historical tradition of firearm regulation.” Without explanation, however, a Democrat-dominated circuit court panel has stayed the injunction, allowing the new law to go into effect.

While California is making the whole state a gun-free zone, criminologists and economists who have published peer-reviewed research on gun control agreed that the top four policies to stop mass public shootings all involve getting rid of gun-free zones: Allow K-12 teachers to carry handguns, allow military personnel to carry on military bases, encourage the elimination of gun-free zones, and relax federal regulations that pressure companies to create gun-free zones.

Already having the country’s strictest gun-control laws, California probably shouldn’t present itself as a role model for the rest of the countryThe periods after 2000, 2010, and 2020 show a consistent pattern: The per capita rate of mass public shootings in California is always greater than the rate for the rest of the country.

A new report by the Crime Prevention Research Center (CPRC) shows that there are now more than 21.8 million concealed handgun permits in the United States. Far more people carry guns today than in 2007 when there were only 4.6 million permits. The report also finds, “Outside of the restrictive states of California and New York, about 10.1 percent of adults have a permit.”

But this understates the increase in concealed carry, as 27 states now no longer require a permit to carry in all or most of the state. To get an idea of how many people are carrying, the CPRC hired McLaughlin & Associates to conduct a survey, which found that nationwide “15.6% of general election voters carry concealed handguns.”

Findings also suggest that “Concealed handgun permit holders are extremely law-abiding.” In Florida and Texas, permit holders are convicted of firearms-related violations one-twelfth as much as police officers.

Women are largely fueling the increase. Among the states that published data from 2012-22/23, the number of women with permits grew almost 111 percent faster than the number of men with permits. Among the states with 2023 data on sex, women now make up 29.1 percent of permit holders.

From 2015 to 2021/2022/2023, in the states that published data on race, the number of permits for black people increased nearly 223 percent faster than the number of permits for whites. Blacks now make up roughly 13 percent of permit holders. In addition, “Permits for Asians grew 163.4% faster than whites.” 

The numbers show how out of sync California and New York are with the rest of the country. In those places, where public officials arbitrarily decide who gets a permit, only a few adults out of every thousand have permits (mostly in rural counties). People in most states don’t think twice about being surrounded by concealed carry in restaurants, theaters, or stores. In Potter County, Pennsylvania, on the New York state line, more than half of adults have a permit.

In 2013, LA Weekly obtained the names of permit holders in Los Angeles County, and the Crime Prevention Research Center did some investigating. There were 341 permits for almost 8 million adults. Only the political elite got them: judges, reserve deputy sheriffs, and a small group of very wealthy, well-connected individuals. I found that women got about 7.6 percent and blacks about 5 percent. Hispanics made up almost half of the county’s population, but they apparently only had about 6.5 percent of permits.

My research has demonstrated that the two groups that benefit the most from carrying guns are the likeliest victims of crime (low-income blacks in high-crime urban areas) and physically weaker people (women and the elderly). Dozens of published peer-reviewed studies find similar results. In the past few years, those who benefit the most from carrying concealed handguns have been getting them.

Police are the most important factor in fighting crime, but they almost always arrive on the scene after an offense. We have to let people protect themselves — and it shouldn’t just be a privilege of the wealthy and well-connected. The most vulnerable people are the ones who benefit the most from having guns.


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