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Shooting Down the More Guns, Less Crime Hypothesis

115 Pages Posted: 29 Oct 2002  

Ian Ayres

Yale University - Yale Law School; Yale University - Yale School of Management

John J. Donohue III

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

Multiple version iconThere are 2 versions of this paper

Date Written: October 2002

Abstract

John Lott and David Mustard have used regression analysis to argue forcefully that "shall-issue" laws (which give citizens an unimpeded right to secure permits for concealed weapons) reduce violent crime. While certain facially plausible statistical models appear to generate this conclusion, more refined analyses of more recent state and county data undermine the more guns, less crime hypothesis. The most robust finding on the state data is that certain property crimes rise with passage of shall-issue laws, although the absence of any clear theory as to why this would be the case tends to undercut any strong conclusions. Estimating more statistically preferred disaggregated models on more complete county data, we show that in most states shall-issue laws have been associated with more crime and that the apparent stimulus to crime tends to be especially strong for those states that adopted in the last decade. While there are substantial concerns about model reliability and robustness, we present estimates based on disaggregated county data models that on net the passage of the law in 24 jurisdictions has increased the annual cost of crime slightly - somewhere on the order of half a billion dollars. We also provide an illustration of how our jurisdiction-specific regression model has the capacity to generate more nuanced assessments concerning which states might profit from or be harmed by a particular legal intervention.

JEL Classification: K0, H0, Z0

Suggested Citation

Ayres, Ian and Donohue, John J., Shooting Down the More Guns, Less Crime Hypothesis (October 2002). Stanford Law & Econ. Working Paper 247; Stanford Public Law Research Paper 44; Yale Public Law Research Paper 28; Yale Law & Econ. Research Paper 272. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=343781 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.343781

Ian Ayres

Yale University - Yale Law School ( email )

P.O. Box 208215
New Haven, CT 06520-8215
United States
203-432-7101 (Phone)
203-432-2592 (Fax)

Yale University - Yale School of Management

135 Prospect Street
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New Haven, CT 06520-8200
United States

John Donohue (Contact Author)

Stanford Law School ( email )

559 Nathan Abbott Way
Stanford, CA 94305-8610
United States
650-575-7166 (Phone)

National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

1050 Massachusetts Avenue
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States

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