There has been a lot of debates recently on gun control in the United States. This is a synopsis of many many pages of literature on whether increased gun ownership leads to increased crimes:
1. “Capital Punishment, Gun Ownership, and Homicide” by Gary Kleck, published in 1979 in the American Journal of Sociology, Volume 84, No. 4.
– notes that higher gun ownership can cause higher homicide rates, but this relationship is hard to explain because higher homicide rates may cause higher gun ownership. It is difficult to state which causes which. For example, higher access to guns may lead to higher homicide rates. However, in an area with higher homicide rates, individuals may purchase guns to feel more protected, so it may be an area with a violent culture and the homicides may not necessarily be caused by high gun ownership; because the high level of crimes leads to more gun purchases for self-protection so does X cause Y or does Y cause X?
2.”Gun Availability and Violent Crime: New Evidence from the National Incident-Based Reporting System” by Lisa Stolzenberg and Stewart J. D’Alessio, published in 2000 in Social Forces Volume 78. No. 4, which is published by Oxford University Press.
– checks to see whether gun availability is related to violent crime, gun crime, juvenile gun crime, and violent crimes committed with a knife. The “violent crimes committed with a knife” aspect is important because the authors want to check if criminals are substituting knives with guns as their weapon of choice. They also distinguish between illegal gun availability and legitimate, legal gun availability. Illegal gun availability is determined by the number of stolen guns reported to the police. Legal gun availability is measured by the yearly number of concealed weapon permits issued to citizens in each county.
– The results were that gun theft rates were very significantly related to violent crime rates, gun crime rates, and youth gun crime rates. However, they couldn’t find an effect of legal gun availability on violent crime rate, gun crime rate, youth gun crime rate, or knife crime rate.
– The implications of this study are that policy should be aimed at having legitimate gun owners store their guns in a more secure manner (an article by Cook and Ludwig in 1997 estimate that slightly more than 50% of all owned guns in this country are stored unlocked). The second strategy they suggest is having local law enforcement focus on efforts to reduce the theft of firearms.
3. “National Case-Control Study of Homicide Offending and Gun Ownership” by Gary Kleck and Michael Hogan, published in Social Problems, Volume 46, No. 2, which is published by Oxford University Press.
– This study estimates the probability of becoming a killer in relation to whether the individual owned a gun while making sure to account for age, sex, race, Hispanic ethnicity, income, education, marital status, the region, veteran status, and whether the individual had children.
– The results were that gun ownership has a weak effect on homicidal behavior in the population in general. However, it was shown to have a substantially higher impact on homicidal behavior for women than men. The theory as to why this can happen is that “Gun possession gives a smaller person of less physical strength the ability to inflict lethal violence on others… while a weapon is more likely to be redundant among male aggressors.” The study also found that guns appear to contribute more to homicide rates among blacks than whites, even after controlling for income, education, and residence in the South.
4. “The Impact of Gun Control and Gun Ownership Levels on Violence Rates” by Gary Kleck and E. Britt Patterson, published in the Journal of Quantitative Criminology in 1993, Volume 9, No. 3.
– Data on all 170 U.S. cities with a 1980 population of at least 100,000 were used.
– Results: the prevalence of guns generally does not increase the rate of violence in the area, increased crimes actually lead to increased gun ownership to aid in protection, gun control restrictions were not found to have an effect on the prevalence of guns in the area, and most gun control restrictions were not found to have an effect on the rates of violence. An exception to the last finding, “most gun control restrictions were not found to have an effect on the rates of violence”, of 108 different assessments for how effective different gun laws were at preventing violence, 7 found good support and 11 found partial support.
5. “Guns and Crime” by Carlisle E. Moody and Thomas B. Marvell, published in the Southern Economic Journal in 2005, Volume 71, No. 4.
– Estimates the effect of handguns on crime in different states from 1977 to 1998.
– The results were that they found a negligible effect of handguns on crime.
6. “More Guns, More Crime” by Mark Duggan, published in the Journal of Political Economy in 2001 which is published by the University of Chicago Press, Volume 109, No. 5.
– The paper studies the relationship between gun ownership and crime in states and in counties while accounting for income, the unemployment rate, and the fraction of state residents between 18 and 24 years old..
– The results are that increases in gun ownership lead to substantial increases in homicide rates.