Concealed Carry Permits Jump 10.5% in 2021

A new report from the Crime Prevention Research Center shows more than 21.5 million Americans are now licensed to carry concealed. (Dave Workman)

U.S.A.-( The number of active concealed carry licenses and permits in the U.S. has soared to more than 21.52 million this year, according to the annual report from the Crime Prevention Research Center.

The report, from CPRC founder and President John Lott, Carlisle E. Moody Research Director and Professor at the College of William & Mary, and research associate Rujun Wang, says the spike represents “a 48% increase since 2016,” and amounts to “a 10.5% increase over the number of permits we counted a year ago in 2020.”

And this doesn’t necessarily reflect the true number of Americans who are now carrying for personal protection. As the report acknowledges, 21 states have adopted so-called “constitutional carry” laws that allow carrying firearms without the necessity of a license /permit.

The report for 2020 showed 19.48 million active licenses/permits, and that was a hike of 820,000 over the 2019 figure. That happened, the CPRC noted at the time, “despite many states shutting down issuing permits because of the coronavirus.”

This year’s report spans 69 pages and is bad news to the gun prohibition and anti-self-defense lobbying groups. According to the abstract, “This increase occurred despite 21 Constitutional Carry states that no longer provide data on all those legally carrying a concealed handgun because people in those states no longer need a permit to carry.”

“Because of these constitutional carry states,” the report observes, “the nationwide growth in permits does not paint a full picture of the overall increase in concealed carry.”

Over the past year, the report notes, “the number of permit holders grew by a record 2 million.” The report also estimates that “8.3 percent of American adults have permits,” and outside of the restrictive states of California and New York, the percentage climbs to 10 percent. There are pages and pages of data with appropriate tables to make it readable.

In 15 states, more than 10 percent of adults are licensed to carry. Those states identified in the report are Alabama, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Iowa, Indiana, Kentucky, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Utah, Virginia, Washington and West Virginia. The report includes a map highlighting these states.

The report also notes six states with more than 1 million active permits: Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Indiana, Pennsylvania, and Texas. Florida is the first state to have over 2.5 million permits, the report says. Last year at this time, only five states has reached that landmark. Indiana was not on that list.

The annual CPRC report also notes that in 2021, “women made up 28.3% of permit holders in the 14 states that provide data by gender.” It’s an increase of more than 26.4 percent over last year’s numbers.

The report comes less than a month before the U.S. Supreme Court is scheduled to hear oral arguments in the case of New York State Rifle & Pistol Association v. Bruen (also known as NYSR&PA v. Corlett), a challenge of New York’s “proper cause” requirement to obtain a carry permit. All eyes are on this case because if the high court rules against New York’s permitting scheme, other states’ laws are in big trouble. California, Maryland, New Jersey, Massachusetts and a few other states have similar requirements that have prevented law-abiding citizens from exercising their right to not only “keep” arms but to “bear” them.

By no small coincidence, the high court hearing occurs on the day after Election Day next month, during which Virginia gun owners have a strong chance to reverse course by changing the controlling party in Richmond from Democrat to Republican. It would be the opportunity for Virginians to undo the gun control measures adopted by outgoing Gov. Ralph Northam and a Democrat majority in 2020.

Former Democrat Gov. Terry McAuliffe is running to keep the governorship in Democrat hands, but he is being challenged by Republican political newcomer Glenn Youngkin. Polling has McAuliffe and Youngkin in virtually a dead heat, and the Democrat’s desperation is showing as he is trying to portray Youngkin as a Donald Trump clone in an effort to rouse the lockstep northern Virginia Democrat voting bloc.

The CPRC report comes in the wake of the FBI Uniform Crime Report for 2021, which detailed a spike in homicide and violent crime. The data contained in that report offers considerable justification for increasing numbers of Americans to be armed, and not just in their homes. Most violent crime happens outside the home, and with increased concerns about reductions in police manpower in several cities around the country, it would seem only natural for concerned citizens to assume more responsibility for their own safety.

From all indications, that trend is likely to continue heading into 2022.


About Dave Workman

Dave Workman is a senior editor at and Liberty Park Press, author of multiple books on the Right to Keep & Bear Arms, and formerly an NRA-certified firearms instructor.

Dave Workman

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