Nov 21, 2022 - News

Twice as many carrying handguns, UW study finds

The number of U.S. adult handgun owners carrying a loaded weapon almost doubled in a four-year period, according to a new study by the University of Washington.

Driving the news: The study, published Thursday in the American Journal of Public Health, found that 6 million adults reported carrying a handgun daily in 2019, up from 3 million in 2015.

Why it matters: There has been very little hard data related to who is carrying handguns and why, said one of the UW study's lead authors, Ali Rowhani-Rahbar.

By the numbers: The majority of people who carry loaded weapons, seven of 10, said they do so as protection against other people.

  • Approximately 16 million adult handgun owners reported carrying a loaded weapon at least once in a given month, compared to 9 million in 2015.
  • The total number of adults owning handguns increased from 38 million in 2015 to 53 million in 2019.

Yes, and: The study found state regulations appear to impact those numbers, with a smaller proportion of handgun owners carrying in states that have more restrictive regulations.

  • In less restrictive states — also called "shall issue" or "must issue" states — authorities have little discretion over whether to issue concealed carry permits.
  • In more restrictive or "may issue" states, authorities have some discretion.
  • Washington is a less restrictive or "shall issue" state and required to furnish a permit to people who pass a background check.

The big picture: According to the Annals of Internal Medicine, there were an estimated 62 million handgun owners in the U.S. in 2021. Among them, 7.5 million purchased a gun for the first time between 2019 and 2021.

  • Concealed carry permits increased by 2.3% in 2022 compared to last year even though nearly half the states enacted constitutional carry laws, according to a report published by the Crime Prevention Research Center (CPRC). Those laws say Americans don't need to get a government permit to carry firearms.
  • The number of concealed handgun permits stands at 22.01 million this year.

What we're watching: "The next step is to ask what is the impact on public health and public safety when guns are easier to carry," Rowhani-Rahbar told Axios. "In a situation where you have a fight, do they contribute to the escalation and make it more lethal?"

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