RELEASE: New Analysis Shows Wisconsin’s Concealed Carry Law Directly Linked to Increased Gun Violence
Washington, D.C. — Since Wisconsin’s concealed carry weapons (CCW) law went into effect in 2011—which, for the first time, granted individuals in the state the ability to carry concealed, loaded firearms in their communities—the state has seen a dramatic rise in gun-related violence, gun homicides, and gun theft, according to a new analysis released today by the Center for American Progress and the Wisconsin Anti-Violence Effort (WAVE) Educational Fund. These trends were neither accompanied by increased nonfirearm violence nor seen in neighboring states, indicating a direct correlation between Wisconsin’s CCW law and subsequent rise in gun violence. These findings come at a critical moment as the Wisconsin Legislature attempts to expand the law to allow concealed carry on school grounds and lower the age limit to 18 to 20.
“The data indicate that allowing the carrying of guns in public spaces endangers communities,” says Eugenio Weigend Vargas, director for Gun Violence Prevention at CAP and co-author of the issue brief. “Our findings are a dire warning sign for other states, such as Texas and North Carolina, that have adopted or are considering similar laws—or worse, laws that do not even require a permit to carry.”
“Prior to the enactment of the CCW law, we warned lawmakers that they would be putting Wisconsinites in grave danger. Clearly, we were right,” says Jeri Bonavia, executive director of WAVE Educational Fund and co-author of the brief. “Instead of expanding this reckless law, our legislature should be urgently working to undo the wrongs it has committed against the citizens of our state.”
In their original analysis of data from the FBI and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the authors outline a number of striking findings, including:
- Wisconsin’s gun homicide rate from 2012 to 2019 after the law was enacted was 33 percent higher than the rate from 2004 to 2011.
- The annual average of gun-related aggravated assaults from 2004 to 2011 was 1,700 but, from 2012 to 2019, increased by 56 percent to 2,600.
- Local police agencies in Milwaukee, Madison, Green Bay, Kenosha, and Racine reported a combined annual value of stolen guns of $295,000 from 2007 to 2011; this value increased by 50 percent to $443,000 from 2012 to 2019.
While repealing the state’s CCW law entirely would be the most effective way to curb these trends, the authors also recommend several ways to mitigate the effects of the law. Among others, these include allowing police agencies to analyze their own data around concealed carry permits and making the data available for researchers; giving law enforcement agencies the discretion to deny permits; and passing universal background checks and extreme risk protection orders, measures that 80 percent of Wisconsinites support.
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