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NRA's Long Promoted Myth Dashed by New Study: Guns Don't Reduce Crime — MORE Murder and Mayhem Follows Passage of "Right-To-Carry" Laws

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, robbery, rape and murder.
Photo by M Glasgow.
Photo by M Glasgow.
By Christopher Ingraham
"More guns, less crime" - surely you've heard this mantra before? There's even an entire book devoted to it. As Emily Badger noted awhile back, it has become a staple of our national gun control debate: "The idea that more guns lead to less crime appears on gun policy 'fact sheets,' as evidence debunking gun control 'myths,' in congressional committee reports."

The notion stems from a paper published in 1997 by economists John Lott and David Mustard, who looked at county-level crime data from 1977 to 1992 and concluded that "allowing citizens to carry concealed weapons deters violent crimes and it appears to produce no increase in accidental deaths." Of course, the study of gun crime has advanced significantly since then (no thanks to Congress). Some researchers have gone so far as to call Lott and Mustard's original study "completely discredited."

One of the major critiques of the study came from the National Research Council, which in 2004 extended the data through the year 2000 and ultimately concluded that "with the current evidence it is not possible to determine that there is a causal link between the passage of right-to-carry laws and crime rates." Or in other words, "More guns, less crime? ¯\_(ツ)_/¯"

Now, Stanford law professor John Donohue and his colleagues have added another full decade to the analysis, extending it through 2010, and have concluded that the opposite of Lott and Mustard's original conclusion is true: more guns equal more crime.

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