For Release: Wednesday, November 1, 1995
Law has Licensed Hundreds of Criminals to Carry Concealed Weapons
On Wednesday, November 1, 1995 the Violence Policy Center (VPC) will release a comprehensive analysis of Florida’s law that allows citizens to carry concealed handguns. The study, Concealed Carry: The Criminal’s Companion, analyzes documents obtained from the Florida licensing authority and also includes details of incidents involving permit holders in Dade County. The study is the first to examine the actual operation of such a licensing system.
The study will be released at a 10:00 AM press conference held in the Lisagor Room of the National Press Club at 529 14th Street, NW in Washington, DC. Attending the press conference will be VPC Executive Director Josh Sugarmann and VPC Health Policy Analyst and study author Susan Glick, MHS. Also scheduled to attend are Terry Gainer, Director of the Illinois State Police, and Dan Kotowski, Executive Director of the Illinois Council Against Handgun Violence. Both the State Police and the Illinois Council helped defeat a recent National Rifle Association-backed effort to pass a relaxed concealed carry law in Illinois.
Florida’s ‘mandatory issuance’ law is routinely hailed as the ‘model’ to be replicated in battles being waged over concealed carry in state legislatures across the country. Legislation emulating Florida’s statute recently became law in Texas, Virginia, and Utah. Campaigns to pass such laws are ongoing in Ohio, Michigan, and many other states.
The study’s findings stand in stark contrast to the claims of the gun lobby and firearms industry that only law-abiding citizens will apply for and acquire the licenses. The study’s three major findings are:
- Criminals apply for concealed carry licenses. The study documents that since 1990 more than 690 individuals with serious criminal histories were not shy about applying for concealed carry licenses. In some cases, individuals with criminal felony convictions for such crimes as kidnapping and aggravated rape, and aggravated battery with a firearm applied for a license and were notified of the denial of their application and then requested a public hearing to dispute the grounds for denial.
- Criminals receive concealed carry licenses. Many individuals with felony convictions have succeeded in obtaining licenses through legitimate and illegitimate means. The study documents cases of persons with criminal records including manslaughter, and assault and battery on a police officer who obtained licenses and were able to keep them for up to 25 months before they were revoked. A total of 167 individuals were licensed who had committed crimes that should have rendered them ineligible. Furthermore, because of the labyrinthine nature of the Florida statute, some individuals who had illegitimately obtained licenses and had them revoked later went on to legally acquire a license.
- Concealed carry license holders commit crimes. The study identifies 292 individuals who had their license revoked for crimes they committed after having received the license including aggravated assault with a firearm.
The study concludes that 469 individuals committed crimes either before obtaining the Florida concealed carry license or after licensure.
“The bottom line is that Florida’s concealed-carry law puts guns into the hands of criminals,” stated the study’s author, VPC Health Policy Analyst Susan Glick.
The study documents the many loopholes that criminals exploit to obtain concealed carry licenses, both legally and illegitimately, as well as the costly mechanism that even those convicted of violent felonies have used to obtain a license to carry a concealed weapon. In addition, the cumbersome process involved in revoking the license of an individual who commits a crime is detailed.
The study also explains how the Florida law rewards those who plea bargain criminal charges by basing eligibility not on the severity of the crime committed, but rather on the technical disposition of the case.
“It is ironic that the gun lobby’s ‘model’ concealed carry law is designed to actually reward criminals who plea bargain, a practice that the gun lobby’s rhetoric routinely and vehemently condemns. Under the Florida law, Patrick Purdy, perpetrator of the 1989 Stockton, California schoolyard massacre, and the gun lobby’s poster-boy for the evils of plea bargaining, would not have been prevented from eventually obtaining a concealed carry license despite his previous arrests and convictions for drug possession, illegal possession of dangerous weapons, firing a pistol in a national forest, and resisting arrest,” said the VPC’s Glick.
Concludes Glick, “Florida’s law has made it substantially easier for individuals with criminal records or criminal intent to go about armed. The findings in Concealed Carry: The Criminal’s Companion demonstrate that Florida’s concealed carry law is definitely a model one not to be followed.”