Right-to-Carry Laws and Violent Crime: A Comprehensive Assessment Using Panel Data and a State-Level Synthetic Control Analysis

126 Pages Posted: 19 Jun 2017 Last revised: 22 Jan 2018

See all articles by John J. Donohue

John J. Donohue

Stanford Law School; National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

Abhay Aneja

Stanford University; University of California, Berkeley - Haas School of Business

Kyle Weber

Columbia Business School - Economics Department

Multiple version iconThere are 2 versions of this paper

Date Written: June 2017

Abstract

This paper uses more complete state panel data (through 2014) and new statistical techniques to estimate the impact on violent crime when states adopt right-to-carry (RTC) concealed handgun laws. Our preferred panel data regression specification, unlike the statistical model of Lott and Mustard that had previously been offered as evidence of crime-reducing RTC laws, both satisfies the parallel trends assumption and generates statistically significant estimates showing RTC laws increase overall violent crime. Our synthetic control approach also strongly confirms that RTC laws are associated with 13-15 percent higher aggregate violent crime rates ten years after adoption. Using a consensus estimate of the elasticity of crime with respect to incarceration of 0.15, the average RTC state would need to roughly double its prison population to offset the increase in violent crime caused by RTC adoption.

Suggested Citation

Donohue, John J. and Aneja, Abhay and Weber, Kyle, Right-to-Carry Laws and Violent Crime: A Comprehensive Assessment Using Panel Data and a State-Level Synthetic Control Analysis (June 2017). NBER Working Paper No. w23510. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2988731

John J. Donohue (Contact Author)

Stanford Law School ( email )

559 Nathan Abbott Way
Stanford, CA 94305-8610
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National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

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Cambridge, MA 02138
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Abhay Aneja

Stanford University ( email )

Stanford, CA 94305
United States

University of California, Berkeley - Haas School of Business ( email )

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2220 Piedmont Avenue
Berkeley, CA 94720
United States

Kyle Weber

Columbia Business School - Economics Department ( email )

420 West 118th Street
New York, NY 10027
United States

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