Why Does Right-to-Carry Cause Violent Crime to Increase?
21 Pages Posted: 27 Jun 2022 Last revised: 29 Jun 2023
Date Written: June 2022
While the recent state panel data literature has broadly concluded that “right-to-carry” (RTC) concealed handgun regimes increase violent crime, there is little empirical evidence on the precise mechanisms that drive this increase. Using data from 217 US cities, we find that the effect of RTC on violent crime is concentrated to large urban centers. In cities with an average population of over 250,000 between 1979 and 2019, we find that the introduction of RTC increases violent crime by 20 percent. We then present novel estimates that RTC increases gun theft by 50 percent and lowers violent crime clearance rates by 9 percent in these large cities. Leveraging city-level heterogeneity in RTC-induced violent crime effects, we demonstrate that these two mechanisms explain a substantial portion of the RTC-induced increase in violent crime.
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