Firearms and Lynching
36 Pages Posted: 9 Dec 2020 Last revised: 2 Sep 2022
Date Written: August 7, 2022
We assess firearms as a means of Black self-defense in the Jim Crow South. We infer firearm access by race and place by measuring the fraction of suicides committed with a firearm. Corroborating anecdotal accounts and historical claims, state bans on pistols and increases in White law enforcement personnel served as mechanisms to disarm the Black community, while having no comparable effect on White firearms. The interaction of these mechanisms with changing national market prices for firearms provides us with a credible identification strategy for Black firearm access. Rates of Black lynching decreased with greater Black firearm access.
Keywords: firearms, lynching, law enforcement, Jim Crow
JEL Classification: N92, J15, K42
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation