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Keeping Track of Killings by Concealed Handgun Permit Holders--85 Dead So Far

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"As we get more information about right-to-carry, our point is made again and again ... People who get permits in states which have fair right-to-carry laws are law-abiding, upstanding community leaders who merely seek to exercise their right to self-defense."

Tanya Metaksa, executive director
NRA Institute for Legislative Action
Dallas, Texas, 1996

Tanya Metaksa has long left the NRA. But her legacy of argument by assertion on self-defense in general, and the carrying of concealed handguns in particular, lives on.

Part of this is the predictable result of having a vocal, engaged, orange-hatted minority ready to repeat as gospel any alleged fact or conspiracy as soon as it is imparted to them. Just as important is the fact that since Metaksa's 1996 defense of concealed handgun permit holders as white knights packing heat, the NRA has worked to keep information regarding permit holders--who they are, what past or current crimes they've committed, who they've killed--secret through both legislation and litigation. Faced with a lack of actual data, the NRA then works to fill this information vacuum with its own rosy rhetoric.

Yet reality sometimes has a way of creeping in--even in the gun control debate.

According to the new Violence Policy Center on-line resource CCW Killers, during the period May 2007 through October 2009 concealed handgun permit holders killed eight law enforcement officers and 77 private citizens (including 10 shooters who killed themselves after an attack).

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Because most state systems that allow the carrying of concealed handguns in public by private citizens release little data about crimes committed by permit holders
--thanks Tanya!--the VPC is forced to review and tally concealed handgun permit holder killings as reported by news outlets (in light of this, it is likely that the actual number of fatal criminal incidents involving permit holders is far higher than reported on the site). The web site will be updated monthly to include new fatal shootings and changes in the legal status of concealed handgun permit holders facing criminal charges.

The 46 incidents detailed on the web site occurred in 18 states. Of these incidents, 10 were murder-suicides involving firearms and eight were mass shootings (three or more victims) that claimed as many as 11 lives at a time.

Law enforcement officers were killed in Florida (two incidents), Idaho, Ohio, and Pennsylvania (two incidents). Here's just one of the incidents that resulted in the death of a law enforcement officer:

On July 13, 2008, Ashford Thompson shot a police officer four times in the head after he was pulled over for playing loud music. Thompson used a Kel-Tec P11 "pocket pistol" in the shooting. Thompson, who had a concealed handgun permit issued by Ohio's Cuyahoga County and had received a certificate for completing a concealed-carry class, pled guilty to aggravated murder.

Private citizens were killed in Alabama, California, Colorado, Florida (nine incidents), Idaho (two incidents), Kentucky, Michigan (three incidents), New York, North Carolina (two incidents), Ohio (three incidents), Oklahoma (two incidents), Oregon, Pennsylvania, South Carolina (two incidents), Tennessee (five incidents), Texas, Utah (two incidents), and Virginia (three incidents). All but one of the killings were committed with guns. This mass shooting resulted in 10 deaths before the permit holder took his own life:

On March 10, 2009, Michael McLendon, a self-proclaimed survivalist, killed his mother at their family home, beginning a shooting rampage that stretched across 24 miles. By the time McLendon took his own life in the midst of a police shootout at a factory where he had previously worked, he had shot four more relatives, including his 74-year-old grandmother, and five strangers, including the wife and 18-month-old daughter of a local sheriff's deputy. McLendon had a concealed handgun permit for two handguns. Police later found at the home he shared with his mother numerous how-to DVDs on committing acts of violence.

The ongoing tallies contained in this new on-line resource are an important first step in filling the NRA-manufactured information vacuum that surrounds crimes committed by concealed handgun permit holders. At the same they make clear, month by month, state by state, body by body, that--contrary to the false promises of the gun lobby--the simple and deadly fact is that state concealed handgun systems are arming cop-killers, mass shooters, and other murderers.

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