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Concealed Handgun Licensing and Crime in Four States
Firearm policy in the United States has long been a serious policy issue. Much of the previous research on crime and firearms focused on the effects of states' passage of concealed handgun licensing (CHL) legislation. Today, given the proliferation of CHL legislation and growing strength of the "pro-gun" movement, the primary policy focus has changed. State legislators now face issues concerning whether and how to increase access to CHLs. Because of this transformation, this research moves away from the research tradition focused on the effect of a legislative change allowing CHLs. Instead, we consider two issues more policy relevant in the current era:What are the dynamics behind CHL licensing? Do increases in concealed handgun licensing affect crime rates? Using county-level data, we found that the density of gun dealers and other contextual variables, rather than changing crime rates, had a significant effect on increases of the rates at which CHLs were issued. We also found no significant effect of CHL increases on changes in crime rates. This research suggests that the rate at which CHLs are issued and crime rates are independent of one another-crime does not drive CHLs; CHLs do not drive crime.
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