Master of Science
Laura J. Moriarty
The primary objective of this research is to examine the relationship between the relaxation of Virginia's concealed weapon law, which became effective July 1, 1995, and three crime-related variables. Although there have been two major studies conducted in this area on a national basis, this research represents the first time a study has been conducted in Virginia. A secondary objective of this research is to examine relevant data to determine if this change in the law influenced the purchasing behavior of citizens regarding handguns and the issuance rate for concealed weapon permits.
An interrupted time-series design is employed in examining the data for three crime-related variables over a six-year period, July 1, 1990 through June 30, 1996. Multiple Linear Regression is used to determine the characteristics of the trend data. Additionally, data for the two weapons-related variables are examined over a three-year period, July 1, 1993 through June 30, 1996. The research is an attempt to show that after the relaxing of the concealed weapon law (independent variable), (1) the crime rates for murder, aggravated assault and robbery increased, (2) the number of concealed weapon permits issued by the courts increased and (3) the number of handguns sold by Virginia's federally licensed firearms dealers increased (dependent variables).
Uniform Crime Reporting data were used in the analysis of the crime-related variables for the six-year period of this study. Data from the Firearms Transaction Center of the Department of State Police were used in the examination of the weapon-related variables for the only three years that this data has been collected. Because the effective date of the change in Virginia's concealed weapon law was July 1, 1995, only one year of data after the change was available for analysis.
The study revealed that the change in Virginia's concealed weapon law had no significant impact on the crime rates for murder, aggravated assault and robbery. The research reflected that the rate of concealed weapon permits issued by the courts increased significantly — over 400% — after the law changed. The number of handguns and total firearms sold decreased during each of the three years that data had been collected, and then decreased in the first year after passage of the relaxed law. However, handguns as a proportion of total firearms sold actually increased after the change in Virginia's law.
During the past few years, several states have enacted legislation that changed their concealed weapon laws from "may issue" to "shall issue." The effect of these changes on crime rates is still undetermined. Because of the lack of data points after passage of Virginia's law, no firm conclusions can be reached concerning the influence that this change has had on crime rates. Additional research needs to be done in this area after more data becomes available to determine if a relationship exists.
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