Right-to-Carry Concealed Handguns and Violent Crime: Crime Control Through Gun Decontrol?
50 Pages Posted: 27 Sep 2002
Date Written: August 5, 2002
"Right-to-Carry" (RTC) concealed-handgun laws mandate that authorities issue concealed handgun permits to qualified applicants. A driving force behind these laws is that allowing more citizens to legally carry guns in public places can reduce violent crime by deterring prospective criminals afraid of encountering armed civilians. Critics of the laws argue that violent altercations are more likely to turn deadly when more people carry guns. Whether the laws cause violent crime to increase or to decrease has become an important public policy question, as 33 states have now adopted such legislation. The present study evaluates Florida's 1987 RTC law, which has served as a model for other states adopting RTC laws, and prior research suggests plays a key role in the RTC debate. Specifically, we use panel data for 58 Florida counties from 1980 to 2000 to directly examine the effects on violent crime from increases in the number of people with concealed-carry permits, rather than the binary dummy variable used in prior research. We also address many of the methodological problems encountered in earlier RTC studies. We present numerous model specifications, and find little evidence that the law reduces or increases violent crime.
Keywords: gun control, crime, deterrence, concealed carry laws, handguns
JEL Classification: K14
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation