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Journal Article

How not to study the effect of gun levels on violence rates

01 Jan 2009-Journal on firearms and public policy (Second Amendment Foundation)-Vol. 21, Iss: 1, pp 65-93
TL;DR: Most research on the effects of rates of gun ownership on violence crime rates has little of a persuasive nature to say on the subject, because it is afflicted by the same simple methodological problems that have characterized this field of inquiry for decades as mentioned in this paper.
Abstract: Most research on the effects of rates of gun ownership on violence crime rates has little of a persuasive nature to say on the subject, because it is afflicted by the same simple methodological problems that have characterized this field of inquiry for decades: 1) the failure to properly model the possible two-way relationship between gun levels with the effect of gun levels on violence rates; 2) the use of invalid measures of gun levels; and 3) the failure to control for a substantial number of (or any) possible confounding factors, i.e. factors that influence violent crime rates but are also associated with gun levels. A recent article by Cook and Ludwig (Journal of Public Economics 2006; 90(1/2): 379-391. [SafetyLit note: Incorrectly cited by Kleck as "The cost of guns". The correct title is, "The social costs of gun ownership"]) is used to illustrate these problems, since it suffers from all three flaws. A review of prior research demonstrates how consequential these problems are, showing that the findings interpreted as indicating a violence-increasing effect of gun levels are entirely confined to research that did little or nothing to solve these problems. Finally, it is shown that it is perfectly possible to avoid the problems, and that very different findings are obtained when one does so. The handful of studies that have seriously addressed all three problems consistently find no significant positive effect of gun ownership levels on violence rates.
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TL;DR: In this paper, the authors used qualitative data generated from interviews with police, policy and decision makers from 13 European countries to determine how stakeholders perceive that national variations in firearms legislation affect the policing of gun-enabled crime within and across EU countries.
Abstract: Despite a shared understanding across the European Union (EU) that access to firearms by the general public should be restricted, detailed legislation regarding the ownership, use and trade of firearms varies between EU member states. It is unclear, however, how such variations impact on the policing of gun-enabled crime. By using qualitative data generated from interviews with police, policy and decision makers from 13 European countries, we aim to determine how stakeholders perceive that national variations in firearms legislation affect the policing of gun-enabled crime within and across EU countries. Four main themes were identified from the qualitative data: disparities in legislation, disparities in the priority given and the resources allocated to investigations into gun-enabled crime, as well as interventions. Owing to the aforementioned disparities, cross-national investigations into incidents of gun crime are at risk of remaining impaired in their effectiveness. Therefore, more legislative coherency as well as sustainable long-term interventions will be needed to successfully reduce ownership and use of firearms in the criminal world. In this context, a departure from an exclusive use of an economic model of gun crime is recommended to allow for a better understanding of the dynamics of the black gun market.

7 citations


Cites background or methods from "How not to study the effect of gun ..."

  • ...…on the contrary, have documented a negative relationship between gun availability and crime or no causation at all, stressing that the social costs caused by gun violence would be even higher if potential victims would not be allowed to defend themselves (e.g. Kleck, 2009; Moody and Marvell, 2005)....

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  • ...Based on an economic model of gun crime, attention in previous research has predominantly been paid to the immediate effect of policy and legislative changes in relation to the complexity of GEC and to the role of police in dealing with GEC (e.g. Kleck, 2009; Sheptycki and Edwards, 2009)....

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Journal ArticleDOI
TL;DR: This article used a panel regression of 200 U.S. counties across 20 years to find a significant elasticity of homicides with respect to firearm ownership in the United States and made the public policy recommendation of taxing gun ownership.
Abstract: In 2006, a study, published in the Journal of Public Economics, employing a panel regression of 200 U.S. counties across 20 years, found a significant elasticity of homicides with respect to firearms ownership. Based on this finding the authors made the public policy recommendation of taxing gun ownership. However that study fell prey to the ratio fallacy, a trap known since 1896. All the "explanatory power" (goodness-of-fit-wise and significance-wise) of the original analysis was due to regional and inter-temporal differences and population being explained by itself. When the ratio fallacy is accounted for, all authors’ results can no longer be found. This is illustrated in this paper using a balanced panel from the data for 1980 to 2004. My findings are robust to (i) alternative specifications not subject to the ratio problem, (ii) using only data from 1980 to 1999 as in the original paper, (iii) using an unbalanced panel for 1980 to either 1999 or 2004, (iv) applying weighting as done by the original authors and (v) using data aggregated at the state level.

2 citations


Additional excerpts

  • ...Kleck (2009) has several criticisms, including (a) that C&L’s method of dealing with causal dependence is overly simple, (b) that the FSS proxy may not be valid for measuring trends in gun ownership, and, similar to Moody and Marvell’s argument, (c) that the controls used are arbitrarily chosen and…...

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