September 2016

IZA DP No. 10236: The Decision to Carry: The Effect of Crime on Concealed-Carry Applications

Despite contentious debate on the role of concealed-carry legislation in the U.S., little is known about individual decisions to legally carry concealed handguns in public. Using data on concealed-carry permit applications from 1998 to 2012, we explore the degree to which individuals respond to crime by applying for permits to legally carry concealed firearms. We find that recent homicide incidents increase concealed-carry applications in areas relatively near to the event. Our main results suggest that an additional homicide in relatively small cities increases applications by 26 percent over the following two months. We also find effects in larger cities when using neighborhood-level data. Our data allow us to explore specific circumstances of crime incidents and the characteristics of responsive applicants. Our results show that gun-related homicides are particularly relevant and that whites and males are most responsive to homicide incidents. We also find evidence that individuals are more responsive to homicide incidents when they share a common characteristic with the victim, particularly for female applicants.