Kansas conceal carry holders commit few gun crimes
Wichita ? Few Kansans who hold a concealed-carry gun permit have been charged with a firearm-related crime, statistics show.
Of the 51,078 permits issued in Kansas since the law took effect in 2007, just 44 permit holders were charged with a crime committed while using a firearm, according to records from the Kansas attorney general’s office.
The Wichita Eagle reported that works out to one charge for every 1,161 permit holders, or 0.09 percent.
For those 44 permit holders charged, 17 had their licenses revoked because they were convicted of a crime that disqualifies them from having a permit.
Supporters of concealed-carry permits contend license holders are more law-abiding than the general population because they’ve undergone background checks by the state, said Patricia Stoneking, president of the Kansas State Rifle Association, the National Rifle Association’s state affiliate.
Gun rights supporters also contend the concealed weapons serve as a deterrent to crime.
“The main reason people get a license is because this is a broken world, and we don’t want to be defenseless,” said Dirk Sanders, a state-certified concealed-carry instructor from Rose Hill.
But Michael Birzer, criminal justice professor and director of the school of community affairs at Wichita State University, said no empirical studies back up claims that the permits deter crime.
“It’s hogwash,” said Birzer, who spent nearly two decades with the Sedgwick County Sheriff’s Office.
At the D&M Barber Shop in Derby a sign welcomes concealed-carry permit holders. Another sign includes a message in red lettering that reads, “Criminals Beware!”
“Sure, it helps deter crime,” said Vu Nguyen, owner of the shop. “Every day people walk by, tap the sign and give it a thumbs-up. We have a lot of cops come in here. We don’t want bad guys here.”
Derby Police Chief Robert Lee, one of Nguyen’s customers, doubted the sign would make someone think twice about holding up the shop.
“It may discourage some of the amateurs,” he said, “but we have banks robbed with guards inside. I’ve worked cases where we’ve had gun shops robbed where everyone inside has guns.”
While Kansas has since issued a little over 51,000 permits, 48,200 people hold one now, according to the attorney general’s office. Conviction of a felony while using a firearm brings a lifetime revocation. Aggravated battery is the leading cause for revocation in Kansas.
Some Kansans have their licenses revoked because they move out of state. Others have not renewed their licenses. A drunken driving conviction draws a one-year revocation. Conviction of a felony where a firearm was not used will bring a revocation of five to 10 years.
Interest in obtaining a permit has spiked recently, particularly among women.
Overall the number of Kansans applying for a concealed-carry license has gone up 24 percent over the previous year. More than 12,400 Kansans applied between July 2011 and June 2012.
Among women, the number was up 57 percent with nearly 2,500 applications during that time.