After several road rage cases claimed the lives of children this summer, New Mexico Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham suspended the open and concealed carry of firearms in Albuquerque and throughout Bernalillo County for the next 30 days. Grisham’s response will not make New Mexicans safer. Indeed, the opposite is true.
None of the attacks that Grisham can point to involved permit holders. That’s not too surprising – permit holders in New Mexico and the rest of the country are exceptionally law-abiding. In 2021, there was just one revocation for every 45,000 permit holders in New Mexico. Nor was that an outlier. In 2019 and 2020, there were no revocations.
For criminals, it is already illegal to carry guns. All Grisham’s edict does is make it illegal for law-abiding citizens to carry.
Academic research shows that police are the most important factor in reducing crime. However, the police understand that they virtually always arrive at the crime scene after the crime occurs, as one recent road rage incident illustrates. At the end of August, a law-abiding citizen with a permit used his gun to protect himself from a road rage attack near Isleta Pueblo, New Mexico.
The Albuquerque police department doesn’t have enough officers to answer every call for help. Police Chief Harold Medina acknowledges that Albuquerque ranks at the bottom of cities in police officers per capita. And by the end of 2021, Albuquerque had only 70% of the number of police officers that it should have. When the police cannot protect people, the solution is not to disarm law-abiding citizens.
Albuquerque’s murder rate has soared by 70% while Grisham has been governor. But instead of addressing the problems created by Democrats’ attitudes toward law enforcement, Grisham blames the crime surge on law-abiding gun owners.
There are now over 22 million concealed handgun permit holders nationwide, and we have decades of data on the behavior of permit holders. Some other states have especially detailed data. In Florida and Texas, permit holders are convicted of firearms-related violations at one-twelfth the rate at which police officers are. And police are convicted at just one-twentieth of the rate for the general population at large.
The average concealed carry permit revocation rate in the 19 states with comprehensive data is one-tenth of one percent. Usually, revocations occur because someone moves, dies, or forgets to bring the permit while carrying.
Academics have published 52 peer-reviewed empirical studies on concealed carry. Of these, 25 found that allowing people to carry reduces violent crime, and 15 found no significant effect. A minority (12) observed increases in violent crime. These 12, however, suffer from systematic errors to varying degrees: They tend to focus on the last 20 years and compare states that recently passed concealed carry laws with earlier states that already had those laws. The latter states, where it was more difficult to obtain a permit, had smaller, sustained growth in permits over the past two decades. The finding that crime rose relatively in the recently adopting states is consistent with the states having the biggest increase in permit holders having the greatest reduction in crime.
While the Supreme Court would likely strike down Grisham’s 30-day executive order, the governor may have calculated that the suspension period was too short for the courts to successfully intervene. Assuming that Grisham doesn’t get a sympathetic trial judge, there might still be time to get a preliminary injunction. But the case would be moot by the time it would get to the circuit court, let alone the Supreme Court.
Police are essential to keeping the peace and bringing criminals to justice, but in most cases, they can’t directly protect people. That’s why Gov. Grisham owes the residents of her state the chance to protect themselves.