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Cross-Border Spillover: U.S. Gun Laws and Violence in Mexico

Author

Listed:
  • Dube, Arindrajit

    () (University of Massachusetts Amherst)

  • Dube, Oeindrila

    () (New York University)

  • García-Ponce, Omar

    () (New York University)

Abstract

To what extent, and under what conditions, does access to arms fuel violent crime? To answer this question, we exploit a unique natural experiment: the 2004 expiration of the U.S. Federal Assault Weapons Ban exerted a spillover on gun supply in Mexican municipios near Texas, Arizona and New Mexico, but not near California, which retained a pre-existing state-level ban. We find first that Mexican municipios located closer to the non-California border states experienced differential increases in homicides, gun-related homicides and crime gun seizures in the post-2004 period. Second, the magnitude of this effect is contingent on political factors related to Mexico's democratic transition. Killings increased substantially more in municipios where local elections had become more competitive prior to 2004, with the largest differentials emerging in high narco-trafficking areas. Our findings are consistent with the notion that political competition undermined informal agreements between drug cartels and entrenched local governments, highlighting the role of political instability in mediating the gun-crime relationship.

Suggested Citation

  • Dube, Arindrajit & Dube, Oeindrila & García-Ponce, Omar, 2012. "Cross-Border Spillover: U.S. Gun Laws and Violence in Mexico," IZA Discussion Papers 7098, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  • Handle: RePEc:iza:izadps:dp7098
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    Cited by:

    1. Brian Knight, 2013. "State Gun Policy and Cross-State Externalities: Evidence from Crime Gun Tracing," American Economic Journal: Economic Policy, American Economic Association, vol. 5(4), pages 200-229, November.
    2. Blanco, Luisa R., 2013. "The impact of crime on trust in institutions in Mexico," European Journal of Political Economy, Elsevier, vol. 32(C), pages 38-55.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    gun control; violence; informal employment; cross-border spillover; cartels;

    JEL classification:

    • K14 - Law and Economics - - Basic Areas of Law - - - Criminal Law
    • D72 - Microeconomics - - Analysis of Collective Decision-Making - - - Political Processes: Rent-seeking, Lobbying, Elections, Legislatures, and Voting Behavior
    • D73 - Microeconomics - - Analysis of Collective Decision-Making - - - Bureaucracy; Administrative Processes in Public Organizations; Corruption

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