Gun advocates like to cite a 1997 paper by John Lott and David Mustard that argued,
Using cross-sectional time-series data for U.S. counties from 1977 to 1992, we find that allowing citizens to carry concealed weapons deters violent crimes and it appears to produce no increase in accidental deaths.But others have extended the study into recent years and they find the opposite:
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.I have already shared my basic analysis of all such disputes, which is that if it takes complex statistical techniques to tease a relationship out of the data, then the effect can't be very big. Of course an 8 percent increase in violent crime is a pretty big deal in real world terms, but it is probably too small for our techniques to separate it out of the data incontrovertibly. I think we can say with high confidence that no set of gun laws will either double the crime rate or cut it in half.
"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, Donohue said in an interview with the Stanford Report. The evidence suggests that right-to-carry laws are associated with an 8 percent increase in the incidence of aggravated assault, according to Donohue.
Unless, that is, you consider acceptable of carrying weaponry around as a proxy for the overall strength of a community and its attitude toward violence. Criminals, after all, are members of society. The group of Americans most likely to agree that we live in a violent world where a gun is your only defense is men in prison. The American gun lobby, it seems to me, is all about spreading the criminals' view of the country as an "every armed man for himself" sort of place, and I think that in the long run that can only contribute to violence. Of course it may be that the criminals and the gun lobby are right, so in the short term it is in your personal interest to carry a gun. But the way to move toward a less violent society, like those of Japan and Finland and so on, is to discourage the sort of thinking that underlies concealed carry laws.