Right-to-Carry Laws Linked to Violent Crime

Stanford study conflicts with previous statistical breakdowns
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted Nov 17, 2014 5:05 PM CST
Right-to-Carry Laws Linked to Violent Crime
This Dec. 23, 2012 file photo, a man shoots a revolver, at Dragonman's firing range and gun dealer, outside Colorado Springs, Colo.   (AP Photo/Brennan Linsley, File)

For years, gun-rights advocates cited a 1997 paper's claim that "allowing citizens to carry concealed weapons deters violent crimes." The National Research Council came out with its own take in 2004, saying there was "no credible evidence that 'right-to-carry' laws … either decrease or increase violent crime." Now researchers from Stanford University have confronted the "vexing task" of extending that data even further, and come to their own conclusion: that right-to-carry (or concealed-carry) laws are actually linked to an increase in violent crimes. The researchers say the strongest evidence concerned aggravated-assault data, which indicates that RTC laws are tied to an 8% increase in such assaults. Stats also seem to link RTC laws with "substantially higher rates" of rape, robbery, and murder.

Lead researcher John Donohue explains that research used for the 1997 study relied on stats that only went from 1977 to 1992; the NRC extended that data up through the year 2000. Donohue's team took it to 2010, thereby including a decade that saw RTC laws grow in popularity, the Huffington Post notes (all 50 states now have a concealed-carry law, according to Stanford). The new research also "corrected a number of flaws in the data" by tapping into new statistical methods, according to the director of the Johns Hopkins Center for Gun Policy and Research. Still, Donohue admits it's no easy task: "Different statistical models can yield different estimated effects, and our ability to ascertain the best model is imperfect," he says in the press release. (Illinois was the last state to approve a concealed-carry law.)

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