Millions Packing Iron, Adult Handgun Carry Doubled Between 2015-2019

Safariland Announces First of Several New In-Waistband Holster Models
New research shows millions of American adults are carrying concealed handguns.

U.S.A.-( The University of Washington (UW) has announced a report, based on data from the 2019 National Firearms Survey, showing the number of U.S. adults who carry loaded handguns doubled from 2015 to 2019, rising from 9 to 16 million.

The study, which is published in the American Journal of Public Health, was done by Dr. Ali Rowhani-Rahbar with the Department of Epidemiology, UW School of Public Health, and the UW Firearm Injury Policy and Research Program; Amy Gallagher, UW Firearm Injury Policy and Research Program; Deborah Azrael, Harvard Injury Control Research Center, Harvard T. H. Chan School of Public Health, Harvard University, Boston; Matthew Miller, Bouvé College of Health Sciences, Northeastern University, Boston, and with the Harvard Injury Control Research Center, Harvard T. H. Chan School of Public Health, Harvard University.

By no small coincidence, this research came almost simultaneously with the release of new data from the Crime Prevention Research Center (CPRC) which says the number of active concealed carry permits/licenses “now stands at 22.01 million—a 2.3% increase since last year.”

The CPRC report may be read here.

According to the University of Washington, approximately 7 in 10 (70%) handgun owners “said they carried a loaded handgun as protection against another person, dwarfing the number who said they carried as protection against an animal, for example, or for work.” The report added that four in five handgun owners who said they carry were males, three out of four are white.

The UW report acknowledges the data come from 2019, so it is a bit dated, but that’s where the new report on licensed concealed carry from the CPRC takes an important role. According to the CPRC report for 2022:

  • The number of permit holders grew by about 488,000 during the past year, which is the slowest rate of increase since the center began collecting data in 2011. CPRC founder and President John Lott says this might be partly due to the number of people carrying without permits in so-called “Constitutional Carry” states.
  • An estimated 5% of American adults have permits.    
  • “In seventeen states, more than 10% of adults have permits,” CPRC said. “Since 2019, Arkansas, Oklahoma, and South Dakota have fallen below 10%, but they are now all Constitutional Carry states, meaning that people no longer need a permit to carry. The concealed carry rates for Connecticut, North Carolina, and Wisconsin have risen to above 10% this year.” 
  • Alabama has the highest rate of concealed carry (32.5%) with Indiana in second place (23.4%), and Georgia coming in third (15.5%).
  • There are now six states with more than 1 million active permits/licenses: Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Indiana, Pennsylvania, and Texas. CPRC says Florida has a an impressive 2.57 million active permits, though it is not clear how many of those are held by non-residents.

The UW research acknowledges, “Little is known about the frequency and features of firearm carrying among adult handgun owners in the United States.” However, there has been scant peer-reviewed research (national surveys) over the past three decades, the period during which concealed carry has surged as all 50 states have now adopted legislation allowing some form of licensed/permitted carry.

“Since the first of these surveys,” the University report notes, “reasons offered by firearm owners for why they own firearms have shifted from hunting and sports shooting toward personal protection. In 1994, for example, 46% of firearm owners reported owning firearms for protection; by 2015, that number had reached 65%, and, by 2019, it had reached 73%. As personal protection became the predominant motivation for owning firearms, handgun ownership increased disproportionately from 64% in 1994 to 83% in 2021.”

The report also says that in states with less restrictive laws governing firearms carry, “a larger proportion of handgun owners carried handguns.” In those less restrictive states, about one-third of handgun owners say they carried sidearms during the past month, while in the more restrictive states, the percentage drops to “about one-fifth” or roughly 20 percent.

Coincidentally, the UW’s home state has shown remarkable growth in the number of people licensed to carry, as previously reported. Ammoland News checked historical data from the Washington Department of Licensing which shows on Jan. 2, 2015, the state had 478,584 active concealed pistol licenses. By the end of 2019, the agency reported 646,344 active CPLs. As reported recently, the state reported 694,904 active licenses at the end of October.

In Washington, roughly 25-28 percent of people with CPLs are women (depending upon the county), and according to the CPRC report, nationally women make up 29.2 percent of permit holders in the 15 states that provide data by gender. This is a slight increase from 28.3 percent reported last year. In seven states with data from 2012 to 2021, the number of permits/licenses grew 115 percent faster for women than for men.

The UW report notes, “These trends have been accompanied by a loosening of state laws governing who can carry handguns in public places.”

According to a message from Kim Eckart, assistant director/public information officer for social sciences, University of Washington News, “Researchers say their findings are important in light of a Supreme Court ruling in June that struck down a New York state handgun-carrying law.”


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

Notify of
Most Voted
Newest Oldest
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments

Thanks again for the consistent solid reporting Dave, you have produced several award quality articles…this week! This one’s worrisome because of who was involved with this study. I certainly hope everyone who’s involved in the defense of the 2A realizes that the public health tyrants are trying to tie gun homicides to public health like a disease and are planning strategies accordingly. After what they did to Americans with the COVID Hysteria, they are scheming to use the same model with our guns. I’m not a bit surprised at the number of Caucasian American Men who carry and carry daily.… Read more »


During that period the US homicide rate went from 4.95 to 5.07. The gun control groups told me the rate should have doubled if the number of guns being carried doubled.


Well sure, if the democrats don’t get their way, they release the burn, loot, murder folks. Good thing they kept the senate or we’d probably be dealing with that again. Tends to make folks want protection.


Keeps the courts wealthy


Dave – good report as usual. That being said, remember that anything from you dub is likely ‘suspect’ as to their motivation.
Also, since so many states now ‘allow’ unlicensed (permitless) carry the actual number of free Citizens routinely carrying is likely a lot higher than they are speculating. Plus a lot of ‘licensed’ folks don’t carry all of the time, or so the claim is. And of course there is no way to determine how many criminals carry illegally. As most of us know, those are the problem.


And the non criminal carrying daily without the need for permission from big daddy Govt.. For it’s clearly written in the 2A, :SHALL NOT INFRINGE”.