TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) — Nationally, there were at least 522 road rage shootings in 2021, according to analysis of road rage incidents by Everytown for Gun Safety. A study compiling data and analyzing road rage shootings alongside state laws for permitless carry rights. From its data, the study said 131 of the 2021 road rage shootings were fatal.
Jerry, a car insurance savings app which performed the data analysis, found that Florida’s road rage shootings gave it the second highest frequency of fatal road rage shootings in the United States. Texas was the state with the highest number of fatal road rage shootings. From 2017 to 2021, Florida has had a reported 32 fatal road rage shootings.
Texas had a reported 87 fatal shootings in the same five-year period. California had 31.
Between the three states, the most populous in the country, only Texas has permitless carry laws on the books. The Jerry study makes that distinction, but says the high population “likely explains their rankings” for fatal road rage shootings.
In a year dominated by active shooting incidents, and an increasingly polarized split on gun rights, Florida’s leaders and lawmakers have signaled they want to legislatively add permitless carry rights in the state. Gov. Ron DeSantis promised to do so while speaking in Williston at the end of April.
“I can tell you, the legislature will get it done. I can’t tell you if it’s going to be next week, six months, but I can tell you before I am done as governor, we will have a signature on that bill,” DeSantis said at the time.
The Jerry study said the cause of increasing gun violence in road rage incidents wasn’t owed any specific cause.
“No single factor — gun-related or otherwise — has been definitively established as the cause of the recent increase in road rage and resulting shootings. A number of trends could help explain it,” the study said. “Stress levels have soared since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, as have (possibly related) incidents of aggressive driving and traffic fatalities. Gun sales have also soared to record levels. And, of course, tens of millions of people have been allowed for the first time to carry loaded handguns in their cars.”
An analysis from Duke University and Stanford University professors found that violent crimes have increased in states with permitless carry laws, following their implementation. The legislation, also called right-to-carry laws, were shown to have increased violent crime over the last five years.
The study said comprehensive data used in their analysis and gathered from 1979 to 2014 showed violent crime had increased by as much as 9% after the passage of RTC laws. In addition to violent crimes, a 2017 study cited by the professors estimated that “RTC adoption would lead to an additional 100,000 guns stolen from permit holders each year.” However, the study also said that “there can be crime-reducing benefits from gun carrying by private citizens if crimes are thwarted or deterred” and offenders captured or injured by “defensive gun use.”
Still, the study said current data suggests that the benefits of private gun ownership are “substantially offset by the crime-enhancing impacts of increased gun carrying.”
The Jerry study on road rage shooting incidents said that the 35 states in the U.S., “more than two-thirds of all states,” do not require special permits or formal training to allow residents to have loaded handguns in their vehicles. In the interim, more states have started to pass permitless carry laws. The Jerry study said most of the states, 25 have permitless carry laws in place, have passed those efforts in the past five years.
From 2018 to 2021, road rage shootings reportedly doubled. There were 293 road rage shootings in 2018, 409 in 2020, and 522 in 2021. Of the 1,224 road rage shootings in the previous three years, 301 were fatal, according to the Jerry data. Their statistics were pulled from Everytown for Gun Safety and the Gun Violence Archive, tow non-profit organizations that advocate for stricter gun regulations.
The research from the Stanford and Duke professors foudn that RTCs increased violent firearm crimes in almost 50 major cities used in the study, and that gun thefts had risen along with them, “particularly from vehicles.”
At the same time, the study said the clearance rates for violent crimes decreased as police efficacy fell.
“We analyze a sample of 47 major US cities to illuminate the mechanisms that lead Right-to-Carry concealed handgun laws to increase crime. The altered behavior of permit holders, career criminals, and the police combine to generate 29% and 32% increases in firearm violent crime and firearm robbery respectively,” the Duke and Stanford study said. “The increasing firearm violence is facilitated by a massive 35% increase in gun theft, with further crime stimulus flowing from diminished police effectiveness, as reflected in a 13% decline in violent crime clearance rates.”
The study said police effectiveness decreased because “officers became less able or willing to engage in crime-suppressing activity after RTC adoption.” After a rash of shootings in 2022, and varying degrees of police response such as the case in Uvalde, Texas, federal lawmakers passed legislation aimed at reducing gun violence in the U.S.
Meanwhile, the stress level of Americans has continued to rise amid the COVID-19 pandemic, economic pressures such as inflation, and the ongoing war in Ukraine. The American Psychological Association said the increased stress is adding to mental health risks in the country. Mental health has often been cited as a cause of gun violence when it comes to mass shootings.
Still, as more states weigh varying versions of gun legislation and Americans continue to buy higher levels of guns, the effect on shooting frequency is uncertain.