It may seem like a contradiction, but concealed handgun laws have consistently reduced violent crime in over a dozen countries and several U.S. states. The right to own guns should be supported. Criminals already carry weapons, and handguns would only be allowed for citizens without criminal records. Furthermore, carriers of concealed handguns are required to take a gun safety course. John R. Lott Jr. has studied the impact of concealed handgun laws for over a decade, and he is the John M. Olin law and economics fellow at the University of Chicago School of Law and the author of “More Guns, Less Crime.”
Allowing citizens without criminal records or histories of significant mental illness to carry concealed weapons deters violent crimes. That is the finding of an analysis of 16 years of data from all the counties in the United States. Right-to-carry laws also result in no significant increase in accidental deaths from handguns.
After adjusting for differences in crime rates and other variable factors, the nationwide data show that, if those states without right-to-carry laws had adopted them in 1992:
Murders would have fallen by 8.5 percent, rapes by 5 percent and aggravated assaults by 7 percent.
This means that at least 1,570 murders, 4,177 rapes and more than 60,000 aggravated assaults would have been avoided yearly.
Adoption of right-to-carry laws would give many criminals an incentive to shift into less risky property crimes (burglary, larceny and auto theft), where the contact between the victim and the criminal is likely to be minimal, and away from violent crimes. Property crimes would increase an estimated 2.7 percent, or 247, 165 yearly.
Balancing the costs of violent crimes against those of property crimes, the estimated gain from allowing concealed handguns would have been more than $6.2 billion yearly, if states without right-to-carry laws had adopted them in 1992.
Implementing the law would have resulted in about nine more accidental handgun deaths nationwide, which statistically is not significantly different from no more accidental deaths.
The controlled analysis used crime statistics for all 3,054 counties in the United States between 1977 and 1992. It found that the passage of concealed handgun laws did not affect all counties equally, even within a state.
Violent crimes fell by a greater percentage and property crimes rose by a greater percentage in counties with large populations.
Concealed weapons laws have a much greater deterrent effect on murder, -blam!- and aggravated assault in counties with high crime rates, and on robbery and property crimes in counties with low crime rates.
Prior to 1977, nine states had laws requiring the issuance of permits to carry concealed weapons to qualified persons. Ten states adopted such laws between 1977 and 1992.
Source: John R. Lott Jr. and David B. Mustard, “Crime, Deterrence and Right-to-Carry Concealed Handguns,” forthcoming study, Journal of Legal Studies, January 1997.