Easing Concealed Firearms Laws: Effects on Homicide in Three States

By McDowall, David; Loftin, Colin et al. | Journal of Criminal Law and Criminology, Fall 1995 | Go to article overview
Save to active project

Easing Concealed Firearms Laws: Effects on Homicide in Three States


McDowall, David, Loftin, Colin, Wiersema, Brian, Journal of Criminal Law and Criminology


I. INTRODUCTION

Restrictions on carrying concealed weapons are among the most common gun control policies.(1) These statutes limit who may have a deadly weapon--usually a handgun--hidden on their person when outside the home. By reducing access to guns in public, concealed weapons laws seek to make firearms less available for violence.(2) Details of concealed weapons laws vary greatly among localities, but most approaches fall into two categories. One of these is a discretionary system, sometimes called "may issue" licensing.(3) Under this policy, legal authorities grant licenses only to those citizens who can establish a compelling need for carrying a gun.

The other approach is a non-discretionary, or "shall issue," system.(4) Here the authorities must provide a license to any applicant who meets specified criteria. Because legal officials are often unwilling to allow concealed weapons, adopting a shall issue policy usually increases the number of persons with permits to carry guns.(5) In 1985, the National Rifle Association announced that it would lobby for shall issue laws.(6) Several states, including Florida, Mississippi, and Oregon, have since changed from may issue to shall issue systems. Advocates of shall issue laws argue that such laws will both prevent crime and reduce homicides.(7)

This Article examines the frequency of homicides in the large urban areas of Florida, Mississippi, and Oregon, before and after their shall issue laws began. The analysis provides no support for the idea that the laws reduced homicides; instead, it finds evidence of an increase in firearm murders.

II. THE LAWS

On October 1, 1987, Florida adopted a shall issue law that greatly expanded eligibility to carry a concealed weapon.(8) The new statute required the state to grant a concealed weapon license to any qualified adult who had taken a firearms safety course. Those persons with a history of drug or alcohol abuse, a felony conviction, mental illness, physical inability, or who were not Florida residents were disqualified from obtaining a license.

Prior to the passage of the Florida shall issue law, county officials set their own standards for concealed carrying. Throughout the state, about 17,000 persons held permits, including 1,300 in Dade county (Miami) and 25 in Hillsborough county (Tampa).(9) The number of licenses rose steadily after the passage of the new law, reaching 141,000 in September 1994.(10)

Mississippi adopted a shall issue law on July 1, 1990.(11) The Mississippi law was similar to the Florida law, except that it did not require firearms safety training. Mississippi's earlier law was highly restrictive, generally allowing only security guards to have concealed weapons.(12) In contrast, the new law is more lenient; by November 1992, the state had issued 5,136 new licenses.(13)

Oregon adopted a shall issue law on January 1, 1990, in a compromise between supporters and opponents of stricter gun control measures.(14) Oregon's new law required county sheriffs to provide a concealed handgun license to any qualified adult who had taken a firearms safety course. People who could not obtain a license included: those with outstanding arrest warrants, those on pretrial release, those with a history of mental illness, or those with a felony or recent misdemeanor conviction.

In addition to easing laws on concealed carrying, Oregon's new law also tightened standards for buying a gun. While the old law barred convicted felons from owning handguns, the new law prohibited convicted felons from owning any type of firearm. Oregon's new law also lengthened the waiting period for handgun purchases and required more detailed background checks. It further prohibited most persons ineligible for a concealed handgun license from obtaining any firearm.

Before the passage of the new law in 1991, Oregon's sheriffs issued concealed handgun licenses at their discretion. In 1989, there were fewer than 500 licensed carriers in Clackamas, Multnomah, and Washington counties, the core of the Portland metropolitan area.

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
Loading One moment ...
Project items
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

Cited article

Easing Concealed Firearms Laws: Effects on Homicide in Three States
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

While we understand printed pages are helpful to our users, this limitation is necessary to help protect our publishers' copyrighted material and prevent its unlawful distribution. We are sorry for any inconvenience.
Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.

Are you sure you want to delete this highlight?