Despite soaring gun sales in 2020, concealed carry permits across the U.S. have seen only a moderate increase, according to data released from the Crime Prevention Research Center.
In a report published in early October, CPRC discovered that while carry permits in total sit at over 19.48 million, 2020 experience only a 4.4 percent increase in permits over the prior year. In contrast, 15.4 million background checks have been conducted through the Federal Bureau of Investigation's National Instant Criminal Background Check System from January to September.
The CPRC deduced that the disparity in gun sales and carry permits is likely due to COVID-19's impact on state agencies in addition to declining permit applications in Constitutional Carry states.
"One would think that the same forces driving up gun ownership would also drive up the number of concealed handgun permits. Yet, while both have increased, there is a simple reason that concealed handgun permits have not increased as much as gun sales: many states stopped issuing new permits for many months because of the virus," the report said.
The pandemic saw 13 states -- including Florida, Georgia, and Pennsylvania -- halt the issuance of new permits for months as state offices were closed to prevent the spread of the Coronavirus. Secondary to the pandemic, CPRC also pointed to the rise in Constitutional Carry legislation in some states which do not require the use of a permit to legally carry. In total, 16 states now fall under the Constitutional Carry banner.
"Because of these constitutional carry states, the nationwide growth in permits does not paint a full picture of the overall increase in concealed carry," the report said. It explained that though a permit might not be required in Constitutional Carry jurisdictions, some residents still choose to apply for a permit to carry. "Some residents still choose to obtain permits so that they can carry in other states that have reciprocity agreements."
The CPRC report also broke down demographics and milestones by state. Alabama, Indiana, and Iowa have the highest rates of concealed carry while Florida, Georgia, Pennsylvania, and Texas now boast over 1 million permit holders. Further, Florida just surpassed the 2 million permit mark, becoming the first state to do so. Out of 14 states that offer demographic information on permit holders, women make up 26.4 percent of concealed carry permits.
CPRC's report pulled data from several states that offer up information and demographics on permit holders. While the organization offers a bevy of stats, it notes that concealed carry rates are likely higher than reported but says its data hits closer to the mark.
"Unlike gun ownership surveys that may be affected by people’s unwillingness to answer personal questions, concealed handgun permit data is the only really 'hard data' that we have," the report indicated.