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Greater US Gun Ownership, Lethality and Murder Rates: Analysis and Policy Proposals


  • Schiff, Maurice


This paper examines the US gun-related murder (GM) rate and places it in an international perspective. The data show that the US GM rate is 27 times the average rate for 22 other developed countries (ODC). Its gun ownership rate is 5.4 times that of ODC and the murder rate per gun is 5 times that of ODC. Thus, as is done in the paper, an effective reduction of the US GM rate requires an analysis of both the high gun ownership rate and the high murder rate per gun. The paper examines about fifteen gun-policy reforms – including their impact, cost, structure for maximum benefit – and other reforms affecting the GM rate. It also looks at the GM impact of immigration and of programs that provide alternative life pursuits for young men at risk. It further presents a number of policy implications and some new proposals designed to reduce the GM rate. Four appendices provide 1) results from two recent opinion polls on gun-policy reforms, 2) a detailed analysis of the relationship between gun ownership and the GM rate, 3) calculations of gun buyback costs, and 4) a correction of existing results on the Brady Bill’s impact on gun ownership.

Suggested Citation

  • Schiff, Maurice, 2019. "Greater US Gun Ownership, Lethality and Murder Rates: Analysis and Policy Proposals," GLO Discussion Paper Series 421, Global Labor Organization (GLO).
  • Handle: RePEc:zbw:glodps:421

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Rudolph, K.E. & Stuart, E.A. & Vernick, J.S. & Webster, D.W., 2015. "Association between Connecticut's permit-to-purchase handgun law and homicides," American Journal of Public Health, American Public Health Association, vol. 105(8), pages 49-54.
    2. Maurice Schiff, 2017. "Habit, prisoner's dilemma and Americans’ welfare cost of working much more than Europeans," The World Economy, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 40(9), pages 1708-1717, September.
    3. Hines, Annie Laurie & Peri, Giovanni, 2019. "Immigrants' Deportations, Local Crime and Police Effectiveness," IZA Discussion Papers 12413, Institute of Labor Economics (IZA).
    4. Ackermann, Nicole & Goodman, Melody S. & Gilbert, Keon & Arroyo-Johnson, Cassandra & Pagano, Marcello, 2015. "Race, law, and health: Examination of ‘Stand Your Ground’ and defendant convictions in Florida," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 142(C), pages 194-201.
    5. Kleck, Gary, 2015. "The Impact of Gun Ownership Rates on Crime Rates: A Methodological Review of the Evidence," Journal of Criminal Justice, Elsevier, vol. 43(1), pages 40-48.
    6. Chandler McClellan & Erdal Tekin, 2017. "Stand Your Ground Laws, Homicides, and Injuries," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 52(3), pages 621-653.
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    More about this item


    US vs. Other developed countries; gun-related murder rate; gun-ownership rate; murder rate per gun; gun policy reforms; new policy proposals;

    JEL classification:

    • F22 - International Economics - - International Factor Movements and International Business - - - International Migration
    • H20 - Public Economics - - Taxation, Subsidies, and Revenue - - - General
    • K14 - Law and Economics - - Basic Areas of Law - - - Criminal Law

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