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GunsRestrictive concealed weapons laws correlated with an increase in gun-related murders

Published 22 January 2014

It may make sense to assume that states in which there are tight laws on weapons would make that state a safer place and one with less gun crime, but recent research argues that the very opposite is true. Research shows that in states with more restrictive concealed carry weapons (CCW) laws there is actually an increase in gun related crime. The author notes that his study looks solely at gun crime, rather than violent crime, which is the case in similar research.

More concealed weapons produce lower crime // Source: greenville.edu

It may make sense to assume that states in which there are tight laws on weapons would make that state a safer place and one with less gun crime, but recent research argues that the very opposite is true.

Mark Gius from Quinnipac University, in an article published in Applied Economics Letters, suggests that this is in fact not the case. Research shows that in states with more restrictive concealed carry weapons (CCW) laws there is actually an increase in gun related crime.

A Taylor & Francis release reports that over the period of the study the average national murder rate was 3.44. Data available in the article indicates that states with more restrictive CCW laws had a gun-related murder rate that was 10 percent higher than the average. In addition to this finding, the federal assault weapons ban seemed to make an even bigger impact, with murder rates 19.3 percent higher than the national average when this ban was in effect.

There are four broad types of CCW laws:

  • Unrestricted, which means an individual requires no permit to carry a concealed handgun.
  • Shall issue, in which a permit is required but authorities must issue one to all qualified applicants that request one.
  • May issue, in which authorities can deny a request for a permit.
  • No issue, those states that do not allow private citizens to carry a concealed weapon.

Although there have been many studies on gun control, there has been limited research into assault weapon bans and CCW laws. Of those that do currently exist, there has been a mix in the exact results, however. Lott and Mustard (John R. Lott and David B. Mustard, “Crime, deterrence, and right-to-carry concealed handguns,” Journal of Legal Studies 26, no. 1 [January 1997]: 1–68 [DOI: 10.1086/467988]) found those states with a less restrictive law saw a 7.65 percent drop in murders.

This new study examines data from 1980 to 2009, one of the biggest time periods in research of this kind. It also looks solely at gun crime, rather than violent crime, which is the case in similar research. The release notes that state level data on gun related murder is taken from the Supplementary Homicide Reports from the United States Department of Justice and the information on CCW laws was obtained from a variety of U.S.

The article concludes that it would appear that limiting people’s ability to carry concealed weapons may in fact cause murder rates to rise. Gius does admit that more research is warranted in this area.

— Read more in Mark Gius, “An examination of the effects of concealed weapons laws and assault weapons bans on state-level murder rates,” Applied Economics Letters 21, no. 4 (2014): 265-67 (DOI: 10.1080/13504851.2013.854294)