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Crime, Deterrence, and Right-to-Carry Concealed Handguns

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  • Lott, John R, Jr
  • Mustard, David B

Abstract

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, without increasing accidental deaths. If those states without right-to-carry concealed gun provisions had adopted them in 1992, county- and state-level data indicate that approximately 1,500 murders would have been avoided yearly. Similarly, we predict that rapes would have declined by over 4,000, robbery by over 11,000, and aggravated assaults by over 60,000. We also find criminals substituting into property crimes involving stealth, where the probability of contact between the criminal and the victim is minimal. Further, higher arrest and conviction rates consistently reduce crime. The estimated annual gain from all remaining states adopting these laws was at least $5.74 billion in 1992. The annual social benefit from an additional concealed handgun permit is as high as $5,000. Copyright 1997 by the University of Chicago.

Suggested Citation

  • Lott, John R, Jr & Mustard, David B, 1997. "Crime, Deterrence, and Right-to-Carry Concealed Handguns," The Journal of Legal Studies, University of Chicago Press, vol. 26(1), pages 1-68, January.
  • Handle: RePEc:ucp:jlstud:v:26:y:1997:i:1:p:1-68
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    File URL: http://dx.doi.org/10.1086/467988
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Steven Shavell, 1981. "The Social versus the Private Incentive to Bring Suit in a Costly Legal System," NBER Working Papers 0741, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    2. Hylton, Keith N., 1990. "The influence of litigation costs on deterrence under strict liability and under negligence," International Review of Law and Economics, Elsevier, vol. 10(2), pages 161-171, September.
    3. Png, I. P. L., 1987. "Litigation, liability, and incentives for care," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, pages 61-85.
    4. Bebchuk, Lucian Arye, 1988. "Suing Solely to Extract a Settlement Offer," The Journal of Legal Studies, University of Chicago Press, vol. 17(2), pages 437-450, June.
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