Center for American Progress

RELEASE: License to Kill: Report Shows How Weak Concealed Carry Laws Can Combine with Stand Your Ground Laws to Produce Deadly Results
Press Release

RELEASE: License to Kill: Report Shows How Weak Concealed Carry Laws Can Combine with Stand Your Ground Laws to Produce Deadly Results

Read the report.

Washington, D.C. — The Center for American Progress today released a report illustrating how Stand Your Ground laws paired with weak state gun-carry permitting laws allow dangerous individuals to carry concealed, loaded weapons in public with little law enforcement oversight or discretion. The release of the report was planned to coincide with a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing scheduled for today on Stand Your Ground laws, but the hearing was postponed in light of the horrific Navy Yard mass shooting.

Authored by CAP gun violence prevention experts Arkadi Gerney and Chelsea Parsons, the report set forth recommendations for how the states, the Obama administration, and Congress can work together to ensure that these laws enhance, rather than jeopardize, public safety. The report asks why people such as George Zimmerman, the alleged Navy Yard shooter Aaron Alexis, and others with records of violence, domestic abuse, and reckless conduct with firearms are granted gun-carry permits in states like Florida and Texas.

“Americans overwhelmingly agree that we should do more to keep guns out of the hands of dangerous people,” said Arkadi Gerney, Senior Fellow at the Center for American Progress and co-author of the report. “What the report shows is that in many states, weak laws mean there is little authorities can do to prevent people with known histories of violence, domestic abuse, and reckless behavior from getting a permit to carry a gun. When states combine these lax gun-carry permit standards with the expansive Stand Your Ground self-defense laws, states risk giving dangerous people a license to kill.”

In recent years, there has been a remarkable increase in the number of concealed carry permits issued across the country. A recent review by the Government Accountability Office estimated that, as of mid-2012, there were roughly 8 million permit holders across the country. In Florida alone, the state had issued twice as many permits in 2012 as it did five years earlier. Advocates of gun rights have heralded this revolution in state laws. And while criminal misuse of a carry permit remains confined to a small portion of permit holders, the toll of deadly incidents caused by such individuals is rising, with a deadly incident happening almost every week. Making it easy for people with known criminal records, a history of violence and domestic abuse, or substance-abuse problems to obtain gun-carry permits undermines public safety and imperils the rights of law-abiding gun owners.

As the report explains, Stand Your Ground and concealed carry permitting laws concern issues that are traditionally left to the states. Yet in recent years, the issue of concealed carry permitting has become a federal one. The National Rifle Association, or NRA, has encouraged Congress to enact legislation that would create a national concealed carry mandate superseding individual state permitting laws. The NRA has described such a national concealed carry reciprocity as its “top priority,” and since 2009, NRA backers in Congress have repeatedly introduced legislation and amendments that would override existing state-law standards and create national concealed carry standards of the lowest common denominator.

The report recommends actions at the federal and state level, including:

  • An enhanced role by the Department of Justice in evaluating Stand Your Ground laws
  • Greater congressional scrutiny of efforts to override state public safety laws with a new federal concealed carry mandate
  • More careful state-level reviews of the benefits and risks of these two bodies of law and how they intersect

Read the report: License to Kill: How Lax Concealed Carry Laws Can Combine with Stand Your Ground Laws to Produce Deadly Results by Arkadi Gerney and Chelsea Parsons

To speak with a gun violence prevention expert, contact Katie Peters at [email protected] or 202.741.6285.