Debunking the Violence Policy Center's "Mass Shootings Committed by Concealed Carry Killers

The March 2015 Violence Policy Center report "Mass Shootings Committed by Concealed Carry Killers" claims that concealed handgun license holders in
the United States have committed at least twenty-nine mass shootings since May 2007. However, the report identifies only one shooting for which licensed
concealed carry was likely a factor, and the shooter in that instance had a criminal record that made him ineligible to possess a firearm (a database error
resulted in him being issued a Pennsylvania License to Carry Firearms, despite his ineligibility).
The VPC report claims, "A mass shooting is defined as the killing of three or more people consistent with the federal definition contained in the
'Investigative Assistance for Violent Crimes Act of 2012.'" In reality, the "Investigative Assistance for Violent Crimes Act of 2012" does not define "mass
shooting"; however, it does define "mass killing" as "3 or more killings in a single incident." The VPC report identifies twenty-nine such killings purportedly
carried out by concealed handgun license holders. Fourteen of those mass killings involved only the minimum of three victims, and the report does not
differentiate between killings committed with handguns and killings committed with other firearms, between killings committed in a public place where the
perpetrator would have needed a concealed handgun license to lawfully possess a handgun and killings committed in the perpetrator's home, between killings
committed where licensed concealed carry was legal and killings committed where it wasn't, or between killings that were crimes of passion made possible only
because the killer was already lawfully carrying a handgun and killings that were premeditated and for which a concealed handgun license offered no legal or
strategic advantage and was not an enabling factor. Furthermore, the report uses very loose criteria (typically media reports) in ascertaining whether or not each
perpetrator possessed a valid concealed handgun license, and there is evidence that several of the perpetrators did not.
Although the VPC report is obviously intended to show that licensed concealed carry represents a clear and present danger to public safety, an
examination of these twenty-nine incidents reveals twenty-six for which there is virtually no probability that licensed concealed carry was a factor, two for which
there is a low probability that licensed concealed carry was a factor, and one for which there is a moderate to high probability that licensed concealed carry was
a factor. The one incident for which there is a moderate to high probability that licensed concealed carry was a factor resulted in only three murders (the
minimum to qualify as a "mass killing"), involved a perpetrator who should have been ineligible to obtain a concealed handgun license, and took place during a
confrontation at the home of the perpetrator's ex-wife.
The following chart breaks down the twenty-nine mass killings listed in "Mass Shootings Committed by Concealed Carry Killers." Please note that the
chart does not list all relevant criteria for each incident. For example, if evidence clearly shows that a shooting was premeditated but does not immediately show
whether the shooter possessed a valid concealed handgun license, the chart lists only that the shooting was premeditated, in explaining why licensed concealed
carry was not a factor.
RED - Likely that licensed concealed carry was a factor.
ORANGE - Unlikely that licensed concealed carry was a factor.
GREEN - No likelihood that licensed concealed carry was a factor. This includes shootings that were clearly premeditated, began in or took place entirely in the
shooter's home, began with or were committed entirely with a weapon other than a handgun, began in or took place entirely in a location where licensed
concealed carry was not legal, or were part of a lesser premeditated crime (i.e., robbery or hijacking) gone wrong.

Debunking The Violence Policy Center's "Mass Shootings Committed by Concealed Carry Killers" 
1. Michael McLendon
2. Omar Thornton
3. Pedro Vargas
4. Gerardo Regalado
5. Paul Michael Merhige
6. Guillermo Zarabozo
7. Charles Johnston
8. Jason Kenneth Hamilton
9. Kenneth Allen Keith
10. Ferdarius Shine
11. Troy Brake
12. Andrew Engeldinger

13. Jiverly Wong
14. Frank Garcia
15. Craig Stephen Hicks
16. William Maxwell
17. Terrance Hough Jr.
18. Kevin M. Cleeves

19. George Sodini
20. Richard Poplawski
21. Paul Clifford Moore Jr.


Was lawful, licensed concealed carry a factor?

10 No. The shooting began at the perpetrator's home.
8 No. Police said the perpetrator, knowing he was being called into a disciplinary hearing, used his lunchbox to
sneak two guns into his gun‐free workplace. This indicates premeditation.
6 No. The shooting began at the perpetrator's home.
4 No. The perpetrator planned the attack, which apparently targeted his wife.
4 No. The perpetrator, who bought his guns the day before the shooting, said he'd been planning the attack for 
4 No. The mass shooting was part of a planned hijacking of a charter boat.
3 No. The shooting was premeditated.
3 No. The shooting began in the perpetrator's home. The shooter's criminal record should have precluded him from
owning a firearm, much less obtaining a concealed handgun license. 
3 No. The shooting occurred during a premeditated robbery. 
3 No. The shooting took place at the perpetrator's home. The perpetrator and his daughter had lived with his 
grandmother, in the home where the shooting occurred, since he lost his job and house the year before.
4 No. The shooting was premeditated. The perpetrator shot three of the victims so that he could sexually assault the 
fourth. The fourth was then beaten to death.
6 Unlikely. The perpetrator reportedly retrieved his gun after realizing he was going to be fired, suggesting that the 
shooting was premeditated. Also, the only evidence that he had a concealed handgun license was a license 
application found in his house, indicating that he was probably still in the process of applying.
13 No. The shooting was premeditated. Also, the perpetrator's "license to carry" was designated for "“TARGET
4 No. The shooting was premeditated.
3 No. The shooting was premeditated. 
3 No. The shooting took place at the perpetrator's home. 
3 No. According to prosecutors, the perpetrator was determined to kill when he emerged from his home and shot
three people in a neighboring yard. 
3 Likely. The perpetrator carried a handgun to his ex‐wife's house, to confront her about custody of their daughter. 
When the ex‐wife's boyfriend refused to hand over the daughter and told him to leave, the perpetrator opened
fire. At the time his concealed handgun license was issued, the perpetrator had an outstanding warrant for 
domestic abuse, which should have precluded him from owning a firearm, much less obtaining a concealed 
handgun license; however, a database error allowed the Pennsylvania license to be issued anyway.
3 No. The shooting was premeditated.
3 No. This was a premeditated shooting committed at the perpetrator's home, with a rifle. An active restraining 
order against the perpetrator should have invalidated his concealed handgun license. 
3 No. The shooting occurred at the perpetrator's home. 
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Debunking The Violence Policy Center's "Mass Shootings Committed by Concealed Carry Killers" 
22. Michael Joe Hood
23. Tan Do
24. Justin Matern
25. Christopher Speight
26. Aaron Poseidon Jackson
27. Dennis Clark III
28. Ian Stawicki

29. Aaron Alexis


No. The shooting occurred at the perpetrator's home. 
No. According to police, this was a premeditated shooting.
No. The shooting was premeditated.
No. This shooting began at the perpetrator's home and involved a rifle, not a handgun.
No. The shooting was premeditated.
No. The shooting began at the perpetrator's home.
Unlikely. The perpetrator, carrying two handguns and at least five extra magazines, walked into a restaurant from
which he'd been banned, waited until he was confronted by an employee, and then opened fire. The amount of
guns and ammo carried by the suspect, coupled with the fact that he shot his victims execution‐style (not
indicative of a crime of passion), suggests that this was something he'd planned.
12 No. This was a premeditated shooting that took place on a U.S. military base (where concealed carry is not
allowed), in a city that, at that time, did not allow any form of licensed concealed carry.

ADDED 01/30/2017:
30. Ryan Clark Petersen

31. Esteban Santiago

3 Undetermined. The perpetrator retrieved a handgun from his vehicle, with the intent of returning to a location 
where he had been prohibited from carrying a gun, to kill the people who kicked him out. Alabama law, unlike
the  law in most states, requires a license to carry in order to keep a loaded handgun in a motor vehicle; however, 
the law does not require a license to keep an unloaded gun in a vehicle, and, although having to load the gun
probably would not have made a difference, there is no way of knowing if the perpetrator would have had the gun 
if he'd been required to keep it unloaded.
3 No. This shooting took place in a "gun‐free" airport in Florida. Furthermore, none of the sources cited by the
Violence Policy Center indicate that the shooter had a license to carry.

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