The Latest Misfires in Support of the “More Guns, Less Crime” Hypothesis

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The Latest Misfires in Support of the “More Guns, Less Crime” Hypothesis

Category: Concealed Carry, Crime, Firearm Policies, Homicide|Journal: Stanford Law Review (full text)|Author: I Ayres, J Donohue|Year: 2003

In our initial article—Shooting Down the More Guns, Less Crime Hypothesis—we reached two main conclusions: First, that there was no credible statistical evidence that the adoption of concealed-carry (or “shall-issue”) laws reduced crime; and second, that the best, although admittedly quite imperfect, data suggested that the laws increased the costs of crime to the tune of $1 billion per year (which is a relatively small number given the total cost of FBI index crimes of roughly $114 billion per year). In their response to our article, Florenz Plassmann and John Whitley (PW) offer two sets of evidence in support of their view that that concealed-carry laws are beneficial: First, they argue that some of our regression specifications really buttress their position; and second, they analyze some new county data for the period 1977-2000.

Their first method of proof fails because it simply overlooks—without even a single word of commentary!—the entire thrust of our paper: that aggregated specifications of the effects of these laws are badly marred by “jurisdiction selection” effects. We did not misread these aggregated estimates, as PW suggest; we simply showed that the PW claims based on these aggregated estimates are inaccurate and misleading. The data at every turn reject the idea that concealed-carry laws passed in different jurisdictions have a uniform impact on crime. Therefore, the results of disaggregated regressions must, counter to PW’s claim, be taken as a more authoritative assessment of the overall impact of concealed-carry laws.

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