Objectives: To determine the frequency of loaded handgun carrying among US adult handgun owners, characterize those who carry, and examine concealed carrying by state concealed carry laws.
Methods: Using a nationally representative survey of US adults in 2015, we asked handgun owners (n = 1444) about their past-30-day carrying behavior.
Results: Among surveyed handgun owners, 24% (95% confidence interval[CI] = 21%, 26%) carried loaded handguns monthly, of whom 35% (95% CI = 29%, 41%) did so daily; 82% (95% CI = 77%, 86%) carried primarily for protection. The proportion of handgun owners who carried concealed loaded handguns in the past 30 days was 21% (95% CI = 12%, 35%) in unrestricted states, 25% (95% CI = 21%, 29%) in shall issue-no discretion states, 20% (95% CI = 16%, 24%) in shall issue-limited discretion states, and 9% (95% CI = 6%, 15%) in may-issue states.
Conclusions: We estimate that 9 million US adult handgun owners carry loaded handguns monthly, 3 million do so every day, and most report protection as the main carrying reason. Proportionally fewer handgun owners carry concealed loaded handguns in states that allow issuing authorities substantial discretion in granting carrying permits.