03/18/2010 05:12 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011

107 and Counting: Killings by Concealed Handgun Permit Holders

One month later and an additional 22 bodies.

That's the latest tally from the Violence Policy Center's new on-line resource Concealed Carry Killers, which we launched last month to begin tracking killings by private citizens issued permits to carry concealed handguns resulting in murder-suicides, fatal accidents, or criminal charges against them.

When we first launched the site, the initial tally of killings stood at eight dead law enforcement officers and 77 private citizens (including 10 shooters who killed themselves after an attack) since May 2007. Since then, the number of law enforcement officers has risen to nine for the period and the number of dead private citizens has jumped to 98 (including an additional two murderers who killed themselves after a shooting, bringing the total number of murder-suicides to 12).


The most recent law enforcement officer allegedly gunned down by a concealed handgun permit holder was Alabama police officer Philip Davis. The circumstances, as detailed on the Concealed Carry Killers web site, were as follows:

On December 3, 2009, Bart Johnson allegedly shot and killed Pelham, Alabama, police officer Philip Davis during a routine traffic stop. Officer Davis had stopped Johnson for speeding. According to videotape from the officer's patrol car, Davis and Johnson spoke briefly, and Davis then went to write Johnson a ticket. Upon his return, Johnson told Davis that his brother was a police officer. Officer Davis replied, "Why didn't you tell me that before? Let me have his name and number so I can tell him what happened." Then, "unprovoked and without a word, Johnson fired one shot, striking Davis in the face." Johnson fled the scene, abandoned his Acura, and attempted to break into another vehicle. When he was noticed by someone, Johnson displayed his gun and waived the person away. He was later picked up by his brother and surrendered to authorities. A local pharmacist, Johnson obtained a concealed weapons permit in 2007 and renewed it in 2008 and 2009. He is charged with capital murder.

The most recent mass shooting identified in the update occurred in Florida on Thanksgiving Day and received widespread news coverage across the nation:

On November 26, 2009, Paul Michael Merhige allegedly opened fire at his family's Thanksgiving dinner shooting six relatives, killing four. The deceased victims were his twin sisters (one of whom was pregnant, his 76-year-old aunt, and a six-year-old cousin. As he left the scene, Merhige was quoted by one witness as saying, "I have been waiting 20 years for this." Merhige then fled, and has since been featured on "America's Most Wanted." Merhige bought two pistols and a rifle the day before the shooting according to the gun shop owner who sold them to him. Merhige had a concealed handgun permit.

At the direction of the gun lobby, most state systems that allow the carrying of concealed handguns in public by private citizens release little data about permit holders or the crimes they commit. Not surprisingly, those who bluster on about the "public service" provided by concealed handgun permit holders are the first to turn tail and run in the face of demands for detailed information from government agencies on permit holders: who they are and how they employ their weapons in the real world. Because after all, it's easier to trumpet something as a success when you actively work to hide its failure.

Subscribe to the Politics email.
How will Trump’s administration impact you?