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Study finds gun crimes decreased in Ohio cities during first year of permitless carry law

Dealing a blow to gun supporters, a federal appeals court ruled Thursday that Americans do not have a constitutional right to carry concealed weapons in public.
Al Behrman
A study found gun crimes decreased in most of Ohio's biggest cities in the first year the state loosened laws around conceal carry.

A new study found crimes involving guns have decreased in six of Ohio's eight most populous cities, including Columbus, coinciding with the first year of the state's permitless conceal carry law.

Gun crimes decreased in Columbus and five of the other largest cities in Ohio, but increased in Cincinnati and Dayton. The study compared the year before and the year after Ohio's permitless conceal carry law passed and went into effect in June 2022.

The data from a study with Bowling Green State University and the Ohio Attorney General's Office shows Columbus' rate of gun violence decreased, but largely remained steady, while Parma's rate decreased significantly. Cincinnati and Dayton only increased moderately by 5 to 6%.

Like Columbus, Cleveland, Akron, Toledo and Canton only decreased moderately, according to the study.

The study's authors determined in their findings that within the first year of permitless carry, the trends show the law hasn't had a significant impact on negative or positive crime rates involving firearms so far. The authors said there should be more studies to include rural areas of the state and also take a look at longer periods of time to get a clearer picture of the law's impact.

Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost said in a press release he commissioned the study with BGSU, because several Ohio mayors asserted the change in state law would cause gun crimes to rise in their cities.

Columbus Mayor Andrew Ginther and other city lawmakers often blame lax state laws for gun violence in the city. Data from the Columbus Division of Police shows gunfire was the main cause of homicides and caused most injuries in felonious assault cases in 2023.

Columbus had a record number of homicides in 2021 before the law went into effect with 202 homicides, but in 2022, that tally decreased to 138.

Columbus again saw a very violent year in 2023, though half of the year was not included in this study. There were 148 homicides in 2023. That made 2023 the third-highest year on record for homicides, only trailing 2020 and 2021.

Most of the fatal wounds in those homicides — 126 total — and the injuries in the felonious assaults — more than 400 — were gunshot wounds.

Yost said the study wasn't conducted to downplay what he calls the very real problem of crime in many neighborhoods in Ohio's cities.

“The key takeaway from this study is that we have to keep the pressure on the criminals who shoot people, rather than Ohioans who responsibly exercise their Second Amendment rights," Yost said.

George Shillcock is a reporter for 89.7 NPR News. He joined the WOSU newsroom in April 2023 following three years as a reporter in Iowa with the USA Today Network.