Study links right-to-carry laws to increased violent crime

concealed-carry1A new study from researchers at Stanford and Johns Hopkins universities has found a link between right-to-carry (RTC) gun laws and an increase in violent crime. The findings cast doubt on the “more guns, less crime” theory espoused by many gun owners.

True, studies based on data from 1992 and earlier seemed to indicate RTC laws were reducing violent crime. But extending the data to 2010, as this study does, shows violent crime has increased as the nation’s RTC laws increased. (Such laws now exist in all 50 states.)

From the Stanford website:

“The totality of the evidence based on educated judgments about the best statistical models suggests that right-to-carry laws are associated with substantially higher rates” of aggravated assault, rape, robbery and murder, said Donohue [co-author John J. Donohue III].

The strongest evidence was for aggravated assault, with data suggesting that right-to-carry (RTC) laws increase this crime by an estimated 8 percent – and this may actually be understated, according to the researchers.

“Our analysis of the year-by-year impact of RTC laws also suggests that RTC laws increase aggravated assaults,” they wrote.

And from the study’s abstract:

Our analysis of admittedly imperfect gun aggravated assaults provides suggestive evidence that RTC laws may be associated with large increases in this crime, perhaps increasing such gun assaults by almost 33 percent. [emphasis added]

Of course no one study is conclusive. But it is encouraging to have some scholarly research supporting the logic and common sense of those opposed to the proliferation of guns in our society.

15 thoughts on “Study links right-to-carry laws to increased violent crime

  1. I don’t have a problem with rights to carry arms so long as you have a decent training. Took me bloody 15 months to get my hunting licence in Sweden and then that was just for rifle. To get me a sidearm, oh perish the thought. Education education…

    1. It’s only proper that the right to carry a deadly weapon should take a long time and a lot of training. I don’t, however, consider hunting rifles to be in the same category as pistols that get carried around in our cities by every Tom, Dick, and Harriet that wants one.

      1. Same here. It should take time to get yr weapon and by the time u get it you should also realise the damage it can do. I’m terrified if any of the us gun laws would get here.

  2. I can believe that RTC laws do have some statistical significance to violent crime, but such studies are always suspect because there are too many variables. In this case I suspect the largest variable is economic health of states and communities. You would expect more gun-related crime in Detroit, say, than in Topeka, and that would overwhelm the RTC factor.

    More convincing to me on whether there should be rational gun-control laws are international statistics. The numbers speak for themselves:

    Firearm-related death rate (per 100,000 population per year)

    0.86 Australia
    0.06 Japan
    1.45 New Zealand
    21.5 South Africa
    0.25 U. K.
    10.30 U. S. A.

    The stats on gun-related suicides are similar.

    0.18 U. K.
    6.3 U. S. A.

    Conclusion: Because they have stricter laws in the U.K., they have 35 to 41 times fewer deaths by guns.

    1. I’m not a statistician so can’t speak to the validity of the findings or the methodology used. However, the title and abstract explain that the focus is right-to-carry laws in the US. Other gun control laws and data from other countries were not considered. (Do those other countries even have RTC laws?)

  3. I like Jim Wheeler’s viewpoint. The sort of evidence he presents is compelling. We can have guns in the U.S. for legitimate purposes–hunting, self defense in homes, and perhaps target shooting–without the nonsensical total “freedom” the National Rifle Association backs. Somehow, we must change the thinking to a philosophy favoring tough background checks to acquire weapons and common sense bans on types of weapons and ammunition that clearly serve no good purpose in civilian hands.

  4. I have not read the study, but it is very probable that the results showed in the analysis would hold only for the current data. Thus, it is difficult to derive any conclusions like for example that only by having benevolent gun-laws, the gun crime rate would be increased by 33%. But without seeing the data, ne can doubt almost anything.
    I rather prefer when people use logical models over the statistical ones in the first place, turning back to statistics only to test models they created beforehand. What do I mean? They should make theoretical assumptions about the variables which influence gun violence, and then estimate the level of impact of benevolent gun laws and other factors over all.

    On the other hand, it is good that someone focuses on such problem. We had one unsuccessful attempt to carry board a plane with a bomb in shoes, and now we all have to take them out every time we fly somewhere. And we had like 9 shootings in the last couple of years with many casualties, yet arms lobby still maintains its propaganda that guns are not dangerous. So what. Let’s just wait when we will be able to buy military drones (the civil ones are already easy to get) and fly around shooting people. Because this is where we are headed.

    1. The full report (108 pages) is downloadable from the link I included, and there’s more data, statistics, and analysis in it than I can comprehend. It’s possible the authors did have a hypothesis in mind before conducting their analysis, although I would think that might lead to confirmational bias.

      Regarding benevolent gun laws (not sure what that is), such laws would first have to exist and then data on their effects gathered for a number of years before any worthwhile analysis of their effects could be made.

      As for drones, I’ve already suggested privately that privately owned drones be banned. Period. And I was only half kidding. They are proliferating at an alarming rate and so are the dangers they pose. Yet we still have virtually no laws governing their purchase and use. Maybe one will have to cause a major air disaster before something is done.

... and that's my two cents