New study shows gun crime dropped after BFA-backed permitless carry law went into effect

Despite dire predictions from critics of Ohio's permitless carry law, a new study published Jan. 3, 2024, shows a "significant decrease in crime incidents involving a firearm" after the law took effect last year.

The BFA-backed permitless carry law, Senate Bill 215, sometimes referred to as "constitutional carry," went into effect June 13, 2022, making Ohio the 23rd state to allow residents to carry a concealed handgun without a license or mandated training.

Critics predicted an increase in violent crime involving guns. An excerpt from testimony by Moms Demand Action is representative of the opposition:

... we know that SB 215 would increase, rather than decrease, the number of firearms-related crimes in Ohio, making Ohioans less safe. This bill is dangerous for Ohio.

However research by the Center for Justice Research, a partnership between the office of Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost and Bowling Green State University, shows these predictions are unfounded. The study examined the effect of permitless carry on crime in Columbus, Cleveland, Cincinnati, Toledo, Akron, Dayton, Parma, and Canton, finding a decrease in the rate of gun crime by as much as 22%.

From the study:

The Center for Justice Research was tasked to explore the relationship between permitless carry and crime involving a firearm before and after the enactment of the PCL (permitless carry law) in the eight largest cities of Ohio. This exploratory study considers crime incidents involving a firearm, validated gunshot detection incidents, and the impact of PCL on law enforcement from June 2021 to June 2023.


Results from a trend analysis indicated a significant decrease in crime incidents involving a firearm for Akron, Columbus, and Toledo, and across all eight cities combined from June 2021 to June 2023.

"This may come as a surprise to gun control advocates, but not to us," said Dean Rieck, Executive Director of Buckeye Firearms Association (BFA).

"So-called gun crime is overwhelmingly committed by criminals, those who are prone to break the law and who are generally prohibited from possessing firearms in the first place. The permitless carry bill we championed didn't change anything for criminals. It simply made it easier for law-abiding residents of Ohio, who are otherwise permitted to carry a firearm with a license, to carry without a license."

From the very beginning, BFA has argued that permitless carry does not change human behavior:

  • Those who carry legally with a license will continue to carry legally with or without a license. There is no reason to believe the lack of a license will change a person's behavior. Human behavior tends to be highly consistent over time.
  • Those who do not carry with a license but choose to start carrying after a license is no longer mandated are of no concern. If they're not carrying without a license because it's illegal, and they're waiting for it to become legal before they carry, they are obviously law-abiding.
  • Those who carry illegally are those willing to commit a crime. These are criminals, and criminals will disobey the law with or without a license.

The permitless carry law does not change who is able to legally carry a concealed handgun, does not change use-of-force laws, and does not make law enforcement more difficult or dangerous.

"The reason gun control advocates are so afraid of permitless carry," continued Rieck, "is that they make no distinction between ordinary, law-abiding people and violent criminals.

"Those who oppose gun rights believe anyone with a gun is a potential murderer. But that's phobia, not fact. The facts show that the vast majority of violent crime is consistently committed by a tiny fraction of the population. Most ordinary people will never commit a crime of any kind."

Columbus provides the perfect example. According to the Columbus Dispatch, a study of 2020 homicides commissioned by the city found that "... about 480 total members of 17 gangs — roughly 0.05% of the city’s population — were confirmed or suspected to be involved in 46% of the homicides, either as victims, perpetrators or both."

When BFA-backed HB 12 went into effect 20 years ago to permit concealed carry in Ohio, critics predicted chaos and violence. They were proven wrong as citizens demonstrated their competence and trustworthiness with firearms year after year.

Now, two decades later, the same critics continue to advance the same paranoia-based predictions about ordinary people carrying guns. And they continue to be proven wrong.

We can only hope that someday these critics will realize that we should be focusing crime-reduction efforts on those actually committing violent crime, not on restricting the rights of those who don't.

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