The effect of concealed handgun laws on crime: Beyond the dummy variables

Department of Economics, Emory University, Atlanta, GA 30322-2240, USA
International Review of Law and Economics (Impact Factor: 0.44). 02/2003; 23(2):199-216. DOI: 10.1016/S0144-8188(03)00027-9
Source: RePEc


So far 33 states have adopted right-to-carry concealed handgun laws. The advocates argue these laws have a deterrent effect on crime, while the opponents believe they facilitate crime by increasing gun availability. Although both sides assume that these laws affect behavior, no attempt has yet been made to model such effects using crime theory. Consequently, the empirical evidence on such effects lack a theoretical basis; for example, a highly publicized study by Lott and Mustard (1997) inappropriately models the effect of the law through a dummy variable (a binary-valued regressor). We extend the economic model of crime to formulate a theoretical basis for empirical examination of the issue. We show that using a dummy variable leads to misspecification, and use an alternative procedure to estimate the effect of concealed handgun laws in 1992 for states which had not yet adopted such laws. Our results show that the expected effect of the law on crime varies across the counties and states and depends on county-specific characteristics in a meaningful way. Such effects appear to be much smaller and more mixed than Lott and Mustard suggest, and are not crime-reducing in most cases.

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    • "For example, two studies have taken issue with the use of state and county-level UCR cross-sectional time series data in Lott's (2000) analysis (Maltz and Targoniski, 2002; Martin and Legault, 2005). Another study (Rubin and Dezhbakhsh, 2003) has argued that the Lott's (2000) use of dummy variables to model the effects of concealed weapons permit laws was inappropriate and led to the model misspecification. Finally, at least one study found that the manner in which gun availability influences crime was contingent upon whether gun possession is legal or illegal. "
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    ABSTRACT: This study examines the relationship between city levels of gun availability and individual assault and robbery victimization. Existing theoretical approaches to guns and crime are integrated with opportunity theory to provide a richer understanding of the dynamic between guns and crime. Data for this analysis are drawn from a sample of 45,913 individuals nested in 39 cities in developing nations. Results of a multi-level, cross-national examination using hierarchical linear modeling indicate that city levels of gun availability influence individual odds of gun crime victimization, but not individual odds of overall crime victimization. This suggests that individuals who live in cities with high levels of gun availability have higher odds of being the victim of gun assault or gun robbery than individuals who live in cities with low levels of gun availability. The results, however, find little support for the proposition that city-level gun availability interacts with individual behavior to influence individual odds of assault or robbery victimization.
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    • "For this reason, Bartley and Cohen argued that Lott's results should not be dismissed as unfounded. Dezhbakhsh and Rubin [10] [11] re-examined the data using a more general model that allowed the carry law to have different effects in each county and to affect other parameters in the model. With this model they found the carry law did not have any clear effect on rape or assault, that it was associated with a reduction in homicide in six out of 33 states, and with an increase in robbery in 13 out of out of 33 states. "

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    • "So, why not construct models that consider these incentives? Dezhbakhsh and Rubin (2003) identify this literature weakness, they argue that, p. 214: " "
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    ABSTRACT: This paper presents a game theoretic model of crime and self-defense with gun use and with heterogeneous agents. The effects of risk preferences behavior on victims and criminals attitudes and some extensions like risk neutral agents and different costs on gun carry are studied. The results show that criminals always carry guns even if they have fight advantage over the victims because they are not able to distinguish victims' types. The main conclusion is that an increase on gun availability implies on an increase of gun crimes. The paper also concludes that gun control policy is inefficient on crime reduction when criminals and victims are risk lovers.
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