Gun laws in Florida, especially the new concealed carry law, may potentially increase violent crimes, but their impact on real estate is challenging to predict.
Florida's new gun laws, which became applicable state-wide starting July 2023, now allow permitless concealed carry. The law allows individuals aged 21 or above (if they meet the basic requirements) to carry a concealed weapon without obtaining a permit. These requirements include US citizenship and no violence-related criminal history or open charges.
Before this law, individuals had to take a mandatory gun safety course (3 to 4 hours) and pass a test. However, this restriction no longer applies; you can carry a gun (concealed) without obtaining a permit. The names constitutional carry, permitless carry, or unrestricted carry apply to this right.
The law is recent enough to offer no calculable impact on the real estate market, communities, and common areas. However, we can draw parallels from states with a long history of permitless concealed carry laws.
Potential impact of Florida gun laws on communities
As with most other laws, there are both supporters and opponents of this law, and they each have their interpretation of how it may impact communities and average Floridians. It's essential to be familiar with both perspectives to understand the significant implications for the real estate market in Florida.
The people who accept and support this law believe it is in line with the Second Amendment rights of Americans to bear arms to protect themselves and their families. They think that this law will encourage more people to arm themselves, and this increase will act as a deterrent to crime.
The people on the opposite end of this argument believe that making gun ownership and carrying even more accessible and less restrictive can significantly increase shootings and gun-related accidents. The latter assumption is quite reasonable because chances are that a statistically appropriate number of people carrying concealed weapons will not have any gun safety training in the future (thanks to this law). However, gun-related accidents may not have a significant enough impact on real estate dynamics, especially compared to a rise in crime (if this law triggers it).
It's important to understand that this law only pertains to firearm carrying. The rules associated with obtaining firearms are still the same, and even though more people will now be able to carry guns with them, this law doesn't make it any easier to obtain a firearm. Still, it's worth noting that the number of weapons sold did increase after the law.
Violent crimes per capita in states with and without permitless concealed carry
Two of the most populous US states - California and Texas, have different laws regarding concealed carry. California has one of the strictest gun control and is one of the worst states for concealed carry. You need a concealed carry permit, which may involve a psychological evaluation.
On the other hand, Texas amended its concealed carry law to allow for permitless concealed carry in 2021. Both states have practically the same number of violent crimes per capita, about 466. More importantly, the numbers haven't risen dramatically following the introduction of the new gun laws in Texas. In 2022, the number of violent crimes was lower than the 2019 number.
In 2022, when Florida and California had similar concealed carry laws, the violent crimes per capita were far fewer for Florida (150) than California (494), even though Florida had a far higher homicide rate per capita.
What studies say about concealed carry laws and violent crimes
While concealed carry law is not the most significant factor/force behind violent crimes, its impact on the crime rate was analyzed by data experts, and the evidence, contrary to the example in the previous section, is that concealed carry laws may have a significant impact on the increase of violent crime.
One can expect an increase in multiple violent crime dimensions, including assault with a firearm and gun homicide. Even though some sources claim that the impact of concealed carry laws on violent crimes is uncertain or unclear, most authorities and papers agree that relaxed concealed carry laws do increase violent crimes.
The Impact of Florida Gun Laws on Real Estate
Suppose the Florida gun laws result in a significant enough increase in violent crimes. In that case, it will impact real estate prices, desirability, and the overall dynamics of the real estate industry in Florida. However, the scale and spread of the impact are challenging to predict for several reasons. They include:
● The impact will not be sudden. Even if violent crimes in Florida increase due to the new gun laws, the impact may be gradual, a few percentage points each year than the crime numbers the people are familiar with. This incremental impact may reflect in the long-term desirability and price dynamics of real estate in Florida, but only if it's in line with the other factors. The devaluation of Florida properties will also work against the powerful momentum of most Florida real estate markets, so it may take years to manifest fully.
● Other factors pushing down or pulling up property prices will also influence this impact. For example, if crimes in an area are growing while economic activity is simultaneously decreasing, property prices and rental yields may fall. However, if the crime rate is increasing, but at the same time, tourist influx (and related business activities) is growing, real estate may not experience any discernible devaluation.
● The impact will not be uniform across most Florida markets because some areas may experience a more rapid increase in violent crime rates while others may remain relatively safe. Real estate in more dangerous regions may lose value faster, but it may also trigger a rapid rise in the property value of areas considered comparatively safer. So, the collective impact on a specific county, city, or estate's real estate may be minimal.
The "Gated-community" culture of Florida is also a factor worth considering. With the suitable security measures and protocols, which are likely to come into effect if violent crimes experience a sharp uptick, the premises/gates of the community can offer a significant deterrent against violent crimes happening at or near private properties. The idea that "even if violent crimes are increasing, our homes are still safe" can prevent Florida's residential real estate from losing value.
However, imagine we zoom out from the direct relationship of violent crimes on homeownership mentality and corresponding real estate perception. In that case, economic activity is another major factor to consider.
There is ample measurable correlation between a rise in violent crime and a distressed local economy. When crimes increase, the danger and the cost of doing business in an area increases, which throttles further economic activity. Similarly, a significant rise in violent or even property crimes can significantly reduce tourist activity in specific locations. A significant decline in tourist activity can negatively affect a state like Florida.
Apart from the revenue brought in by tourists, there will also be a decline in real estate investment activity. A weak economy will also deter people from migrating from other states to Florida, and a reduced population influx will negatively impact real estate activity.
What are your thoughts?
This article is for informational purposes only. It should not be considered financial, real estate, or legal advice. The market fluctuates; therefore, not all information will remain the same. Consult a financial or real estate attorney before making significant real estate decisions.