Gun Availability and Crime in West Virginia: An Examination of NIBRS Data

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Gun Availability and Crime in West Virginia: An Examination of NIBRS Data

Category: Crime, Firearm Availability|Journal: Justice Research and Policy (full text)|Author: E Jefferis, J Jarvis, S Haas|Year: 2007

The National Incident-Based Reporting System (NIBRS) data afford unique opportunities to inform crime analytic efforts. Recently reported relationships between the availability of firearms and violent crime constitute one such effort. While available criminological literature concerning the relationships between guns and crime are methodologically varied and equivocal, few studies have examined the issue of the prevalence of illegal versus legal guns and their impacts on reported violent crime. Inspired by an earlier effort to examine this question (Stolzenberg & D’Alessio, 2000), this study attempts to replicate these findings through county-level analyses of West Virginia National Incident-Based Reporting System (NIBRS) data. Moreover, additional proxy indicators are used to identify significant clusters of illegal guns and examine the relationship between illegal guns and violent crime. Particular attention is paid to the spatial distribution of the variables and the potentially confounding effect of spatial correlation of crime rates across contiguous counties. The results indicate that counties with high concentrations of both legal and illegal guns are associated with violent crime, gun crime, and knife crime. These findings partially substantiate results from previous studies.

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