Article written by Dean Weingarten: Permission to share is granted when this notice is included.
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In 1994, when Arizona started its shall issue concealed carry weapon (CCW) program, there was considerable interest in how many and what types of homicides would be related to the new law.
I started teaching classes for the Arizona CCW permit when it went into effect, and I immediately noticed that my students were well above average in attitude, responsibility, and civility. They always pitched in to assist in setting up where necessary, and their personal checks have always been good.
When the first statistics became available, I eagerly digested the information. One person with a CCW permit had committed a homicide, although not with a concealed weapon. It was a domestic situation, and the perpetrator was a retired police officer. The question arose, how often do police officers commit homicide compared to concealed carry permit holders? Of the two, which is more common?
It appears that a person is three times safer with a concealed carry permit holder than they are with a police officer.
Attempting to determine how the homicide rate of people with CCW permits compares to that of police officers is not an easy task. There are several sources that show that people with CCW permits are far more law abiding than the general population.
One would like to believe that the same is true for police officers, but data is much harder to obtain for them. Agencies that employ sworn officers do not like to tarnish their name with the misdeeds of officers, and unlike a few states that track crimes committed by CCW permit holders, I do not know of any government database of crimes committed by peace officers.
The best reported crimes are homicides. It is a significant event that is difficult to ignore. There is usually a body. Media usually reports all the homicides that they learn of.
I found two sources of data that seem roughly comparable: The Violence Policy Center (VPC)(pdf) attempts to track all homicides that are committed by CCW permit holders. The data is incomplete, in that it relies on publicly reported stories, but it gives us a useful figure. It does not seem likely that many reported stories are missed.
For police, I used a web site that tracks domestic homicides committed by police officers, and another that does the same for police involved domestic violence. The data is comparable to the VPC data in that it relies on publicly reported stories. Data was available for complete years from 2008 – 2011 for comparison of the two groups.
For the data that we have, police appear to be three times as likely to commit murder as a concealed carry permit holder.