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More Guns, More Crime


  • Mark Duggan


This paper examines the relationship between gun ownership and crime. Previous research has suffered from a lack of reliable data on gun ownership. I exploit a unique data set to reliably estimate annual gun ownership rates at both the state and the county level during the past two decades. My findings demonstrate that changes in gun ownership are significantly positively related to changes in the homicide rate, with this relationship driven entirely by the impact of gun ownership on murders in which a gun is used. The effect of gun ownership on all other crime categories is much less marked. Recent reductions in the fraction of households owning a gun can explain at least one-third of the differential decline in gun homicides relative to non-gun homicides since 1993. I also use this data to examine the impact of Carrying Concealed Weapons legislation on crime, and reject the hypothesis that these laws led to increases in gun ownership or reductions in criminal activity.

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  • Mark Duggan, 2000. "More Guns, More Crime," NBER Working Papers 7967, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:7967
    Note: PE

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Ludwig, Jens, 1998. "Concealed-gun-carrying laws and violent crime: evidence from state panel data," International Review of Law and Economics, Elsevier, vol. 18(3), pages 239-254, September.
    2. Gary S. Becker, 1974. "Crime and Punishment: An Economic Approach," NBER Chapters,in: Essays in the Economics of Crime and Punishment, pages 1-54 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    3. Moody, Carlisle E, 2001. "Testing for the Effects of Concealed Weapons Laws: Specification Errors and Robustness," Journal of Law and Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 44(2), pages 799-813, October.
    4. Glaeser, Edward L & Glendon, Spencer, 1998. "Who Owns Guns? Criminals, Victims, and the Culture of Violence," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 88(2), pages 458-462, May.
    5. John J. Donohue & Steven D. Levitt, 1999. "Legalized Abortion and Crime," JCPR Working Papers 104, Northwestern University/University of Chicago Joint Center for Poverty Research.
    6. Donohue, John J, III & Levitt, Steven D, 1998. "Guns, Violence, and the Efficiency of Illegal Markets," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 88(2), pages 463-467, May.
    7. Black, Dan A & Nagin, Daniel S, 1998. "Do Right-to-Carry Laws Deter Violent Crime?," The Journal of Legal Studies, University of Chicago Press, vol. 27(1), pages 209-219, January.
    8. Jens Otto Ludwig, 1998. "Concealed-Gun-Carrying Laws and Violent Crime: Evidence from State Panel Data," JCPR Working Papers 31, Northwestern University/University of Chicago Joint Center for Poverty Research.
    9. Levitt, Steven D, 1997. "Using Electoral Cycles in Police Hiring to Estimate the Effect of Police on Crime," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 87(3), pages 270-290, June.
    10. 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.
    11. James J. Heckman, 2000. "Causal Parameters and Policy Analysis in Economics: A Twentieth Century Retrospective," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 115(1), pages 45-97.
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