The Problem: Firearms were a leading cause of death in the United States in 2017, accounting for 39,659deaths nationwide, with about 14,500 of those due to homicide CDC: Fast stats US Department of Justice: Crime Statistics.
The Law: State “shall issue laws” require state and local authorities to issue licenses to individuals authorizing the carrying of a concealed firearm as long as the individuals meet enumerated criteria. These laws are distinguishable from “may issue laws,” which require an individual to establish a compelling need to carry a concealed firearm. For examples of shall issue laws, see Minn. Stat. § 624.714, subd. 1(a) (Minnesota) and 18 Pa C.S. §6109(e)(1) (Pennsylvania). It has been suggested that shall issue laws reduce violent crime by facilitating the carrying of concealed weapons by non-criminals.
The Evidence: In a systematic review, Hahn et al. reviewed four studies that measured the national impact of shall issue laws on homicide, aggravated assault, robbery, rape, and killing of police officers. Hahn, et al. Firearms laws and the reduction of violence: a systemic review. Am J Prev Med. 2005;28(2S1):40-71. Two studies found a reduction in homicides associated with shall issue laws, but a third found mixed results across different counties and an overall increase in homicides. The fourth study, which focused on whether shall issue laws harmfully increase gun-related crime, found a statistically insignificant reduction in killings of police. In view of these findings and the limited number of relevant primary studies, the reviewers concluded that there is insufficient evidence to support the effectiveness of shall issues laws as public health interventions aimed at reducing violent crime.
The Bottom Line: In the judgment of a Community Guide expert panel, there is not enough evidence to establish the effectiveness of shall issue laws as a public health intervention to reduce violent crime.