Right-to-Carry Laws and Violent Crime: A Comprehensive Assessment Using Panel Data and a State-Level Synthetic Controls Analysis

Details

Author(s):
Publish Date:
May 15, 2019
Publication Title:
Journal of Empirical Legal Studies
Format:
Journal Article Volume 16 Pages 198-247
Citation(s):
  • John J. Donohue, Abhay Aneja & Kyle D. Weber, Right-to-Carry Laws and Violent Crime: A Comprehensive Assessment Using Penal Data and a State-Level Synthetic Control Analysis, 16 Journal of Empirical Legal Studies 198 (2019) (available earlier as National Bureau of Economic Research, working paper no. 23510 (2017)).

Abstract

This article uses more complete state panel data (through 2014) and new statistical techniques to estimate the impact on violent crime when states adopt right‐to‐carry (RTC) concealed handgun laws. Our preferred panel data regression specification, unlike the statistical model of Lott and Mustard that had previously been offered as evidence of crime‐reducing RTC laws, both satisfies the parallel trends assumption and generates statistically significant estimates showing RTC laws increase overall violent crime. Our synthetic control approach also finds that RTC laws are associated with 13–15 percent higher aggregate violent crime rates 10 years after adoption. Using a consensus estimate of the elasticity of crime with respect to incarceration of 0.15, the average RTC state would need to roughly double its prison population to offset the increase in violent crime caused by RTC adoption.