The Chicago crime rate has finally shown some signs of decreasing – and a debate has broken out over the reasons behind the drop.
City officials credit better police work with the drop in violent crime and theft in the city, but one major crime-deterring factor appears to have been summarily dismissed by Chicago leaders – a new concealed carry law.
Since Chicago began issuing concealed carry  permits last year, robbery arrests have declined 20 percent, burglary arrests are down by the same percentage, and vehicle thefts have decreased by a total of 26 percent, The Washington Times reported. During the first quarter of 2014, homicides in the Windy City reached a 56-year low.
“It isn’t any coincidence crime rates started to go down when concealed carry was permitted,” said Illinois State Rifle Association Executive Director Richard Pearson. “Just the idea that the criminals don’t know who’s armed and who isn’t has a deterrence effect. The police department hasn’t changed a single tactic — they haven’t announced a shift in policy or of course — and yet you have these incredible numbers.”
By the end of July, a total of 83,183 concealed carry permit applications were filed in the state, with a total of 68,549 firearms permits having been issued. Pearson estimates that by the end of 2014, at least 100,000 residents in the state will become concealed carry permit holders.
Cook County, where Chicago is located, has received the highest number of concealed carry permit applications in the state: 28,552.
After the concealed carry law passed, eager citizens began signing up, and filling, gun training and shooting classes faster than the rifle association could schedule them.
“The temperature would be 40 below, and you’d have these guys out on the range, having to crack off the ice from their guns to see the target. But they’d do it, because they were that passionate about getting their license,” Pearson added.
Illinois became the 50th state in the county to allow concealed carry permits, although the cost of the permit is decidedly higher than in many other states. Illinois residents must fork over about $600 for the permit and attend a minimum of 16 classroom and range training hours.
Chicago Police Superintendent Garry F. McCarthy maintains that better law enforcement officer training and “intelligent policing” strategies account for the crime rate drop, The Times reported. McCarthy also said that more than 1,300 illegal guns were confiscated during the first quarter of 2014.
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About 11.1 million Americans currently hold a concealed carry permit, a 147 percent increase from seven years earlier, according to a Crime Prevention Research Center study.
As previously reported by Off The Grid News, Chicago has some of the most stringent gun control laws in the United States – and one of the highest violent crime rates.
In Mason County, Illinois, a state record total of 14 percent of residents can now legally carry a concealed weapon. Shelby County follows with nine percent of the populace currently licensed to carry a gun. Shelby County is located about 45 minutes away from St. Louis in southwestern Illinois.
“When I talk to folks that are supporters of concealed carry here, a lot of them want to get their permits so they can keep a gun in the car just so they have it when they travel to bigger towns and cities,” Shelby County Sheriff Michael Miller said
Crime Prevention Research Center President John R. Lott said concealed carry changes the behavior of criminals.
“When you allow people to carry concealed handguns, you see changes in the behavior of criminals,” Lott told FoxNews. “Some criminals stop committing crimes, others move on to crime in which they don’t come into contact with victims, and others actually move to areas where they have less fear of being confronted by armed victims.”
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