Does gun control reduce crime or does crime increase gun control?

GVPedia Study Database

Does gun control reduce crime or does crime increase gun control?

Category: Crime, Firearm Policies|Journal: CATO Journal (full text)|Author: B Wanner, J Moorhouse|Year: 2006

Advocates argue that gun control laws reduce the incidence of violent crimes by reducing the prevalence of firearms. Gun laws control the types of firearms that may be purchased, designate the qualifications of those who may purchase and own a firearm, and restrict the safe storage and use of firearms. On this view, fewer guns mean less crime. Thus, there is a two-step linkage between gun control and crime rates: (1) the impact of gun control on the availability and accessibility of firearms, particularly handguns, and (2) the effect of the prevalence of guns on the commission of crimes. The direction of the effect runs from gun control to crime rates.

Conversely, because high crime rates are often cited as justifying more stringent gun control laws, high rates may generate political support for gun regulations. This suggests a causal effect running from crime rates to more stringent gun laws. But because both relationships between gun control and crime rates unfold over time, they are not simultaneously determined in the usual econometric sense. For example, crime rates in the early 1990s could be expected, ceteris paribus, to influence the stringency of gun control measures in the late 1990s. In turn, more stringent gun control in the late 1990s could be expected, ceteris paribus, to affect crime rates several years later. Using state-level data, this article provides estimates of these twin relationships between gun control and crime rates.

Share