Right-to-Carry Laws and Violent Crime

Right-to-Carry Laws and Violent Crime: A Comprehensive
Assessment Using Panel Data and a State-Level Synthetic Controls
Analysis by John J. Donohue, Abhay Aneja, Kyle D. Weber – #23510 (LE)


The 2004 report of the National Research Council (NRC) on Firearms
and Violence recognized that violent crime was higher in the
post-passage period (relative to national crime patterns) for states
adopting right-to-carry (RTC) concealed handgun laws, but because of
model dependence the panel was unable to identify the true causal
effect of these laws from the then-existing panel data evidence.
This study uses 14 additional years of panel data (through 2014)
capturing an additional 11 RTC adoptions and new statistical
techniques to see if more convincing and robust conclusions can

Our preferred panel data regression specification (the “DAW model”)
and the Brennan Center (BC) model, as well as other statistical
models by Lott and Mustard (LM) and Moody and Marvell (MM) that had
previously been offered as evidence of crime-reducing RTC laws, now
consistently generate estimates showing RTC laws increase overall
violent crime and/or murder when run on the most complete data.
We then use the synthetic control approach of Alberto Abadie and
Javier Gardeazabal (2003) to generate state-specific estimates of the
impact of RTC laws on crime. Our major finding is that under all
four specifications (DAW, BC, LM, and MM), RTC laws are associated
with higher aggregate violent crime rates, and the size of the
deleterious effects that are associated with the passage of RTC laws
climbs over time. We estimate that the adoption of RTC laws
substantially elevates violent crime rates, but seems to have no
impact on property crime and murder rates. Ten years after the
adoption of RTC laws, violent crime is estimated to be 13-15% percent
higher than it would have been without the RTC law. Unlike the panel
data setting, these results are not sensitive to the covariates
included as predictors. The magnitude of the estimated increase in
violent crime from RTC laws is substantial in that, using a consensus
estimate for the elasticity of crime with respect to incarceration of
.15, the average RTC state would have to double its prison population
to counteract the RTC-induced increase in violent crime.

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One Response to Right-to-Carry Laws and Violent Crime

  1. Zebee says:

    So is the violence from people with a carry permit, or is it that RTC creates an atmosphere where violence is considered the proper approach to solving a problem? Are the new crimes all with guns? All with legal guns? So much not in the abstract…

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