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Who Owns Guns? Criminals, Victims and the Culture of Violence


  • Edward L. Glaeser
  • Spence Glendon


America is a nation filled with guns and gunowners. Using the General Social Survey, we investigate who owns guns. Gunowners resemble neither criminals nor victims, although they do hunt. Waiting periods appear to have little effect on the overall level of gun ownership, but they do lower the propensity to own guns among people who have been arrested. Living around other gunowners increases gun ownership. Guns appear to be a substitute for the legal system, because gun ownership is highest among people who do not trust the government and where the availability of police is lowest. Guns also are associated with a general taste for violent retribution.

Suggested Citation

  • Edward L. Glaeser & Spence Glendon, 1998. "Who Owns Guns? Criminals, Victims and the Culture of Violence," Harvard Institute of Economic Research Working Papers 1822, Harvard - Institute of Economic Research.
  • Handle: RePEc:fth:harver:1822

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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Cited by:

    1. David M. Cutler & Edward L. Glaeser & Karen E. Norberg, 2001. "Explaining the Rise in Youth Suicide," NBER Chapters,in: Risky Behavior among Youths: An Economic Analysis, pages 219-270 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    2. Edward L. Glaeser & Daniel P. Kessler & Anne Morrison Piehl, 1998. "What Do Prosecutors Maximize? An Analysis of Drug Offenders and Concurrent Jurisdiction," NBER Working Papers 6602, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    3. Cao, Liqun & Zhang, Yan & He, Ni, 2008. "Carrying weapons to school for protection: An analysis of the 2001 school crime supplement data," Journal of Criminal Justice, Elsevier, vol. 36(2), pages 154-164, May.
    4. Helsley, Robert W. & O'Sullivan, Arthur, 2001. "Stolen Gun Control," Journal of Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 50(3), pages 436-447, November.
    5. Starr, Martha A., 2009. "The social economics of ethical consumption: Theoretical considerations and empirical evidence," Journal of Behavioral and Experimental Economics (formerly The Journal of Socio-Economics), Elsevier, vol. 38(6), pages 916-925, December.
    6. Christoph Koenig & David Schindler, 2018. "Dynamics in Gun Ownership and Crime - Evidence from the Aftermath of Sandy Hook," Bristol Economics Discussion Papers 18/694, Department of Economics, University of Bristol, UK.
    7. Philip J. Cook & Jens Ludwig, 2002. "The Effects of Gun Prevalence on Burglary: Deterrence vs Inducement," NBER Working Papers 8926, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    8. Brendan O'Flaherty & Rajiv Sethi, 2004. "Robbery and Race," Game Theory and Information 0411005, EconWPA, revised 10 Jan 2005.
    9. O'Flaherty, Brendan & Sethi, Rajiv, 2008. "Racial stereotypes and robbery," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 68(3-4), pages 511-524, December.
    10. Mark Duggan, 2001. "More Guns, More Crime," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 109(5), pages 1086-1114, October.
    11. Lee, Kangoh, 2015. "Federalism, guns, and jurisdictional gun policies," Regional Science and Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 52(C), pages 141-153.
    12. Guha, Brishti, 2013. "Guns and crime revisited," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 94(C), pages 1-10.
    13. Depetris-Chauvin, Emilio, 2015. "Fear of Obama: An empirical study of the demand for guns and the U.S. 2008 presidential election," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 130(C), pages 66-79.
    14. Bohnet, Iris & Cooter, Robert, 2001. "Expressive Law: Framing or Equilibrium Selection?," Berkeley Olin Program in Law & Economics, Working Paper Series qt5h6970h8, Berkeley Olin Program in Law & Economics.
    15. Phillip J. Cook & Jens Ludwig, 2004. "The Social Costs of Gun Ownership," NBER Working Papers 10736, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    16. Bice, Douglas C & Hemley, David D, 2002. "The Market for New Handguns: An Empirical Investigation," Journal of Law and Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 45(1), pages 251-265, April.
    17. Depew, Briggs & Swensen, Isaac D., 2016. "The Decision to Carry: The Effect of Crime on Concealed-Carry Applications," IZA Discussion Papers 10236, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).

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