Monday, November 17, 2014

Stanford study debunks landmark 1997 guns rights study; more guns do lead to more crime

study released in 1997 by economists using county-level data from 1977 to 1992 said more guns lead to less crime because allowing citizens to carry weapons deters violent crime. Researchers at Stanford University have expanded on that study, increasing the time period to 2010, and found that the opposite is now true—that more guns leads to more crime, Christopher Ingraham reports for The Washington Post.

Stanford law professor John Donohue said: "The totality of the evidence based on educated judgments about the best statistical models suggests that right-to-carry laws are associated with substantially higher rates" of aggravated assault, robbery, rape and murder, Ingraham writes. Donohue "says this number is likely a floor and that some statistical methods show an increase of 33 percent in aggravated assaults involving a firearm after the passage of right-to-carry laws."

"These findings build on and strengthen the conclusions of Donohue's earlier research, which only used data through 2006," Ingraham writes. "In addition to having nearly two decades' worth of additional data to work with, Donohue's findings also improve upon (the 1997 study) by using a variety of different statistical models, as well as controlling for a number of confounding factors, like the crack epidemic of the early 1990s."

"These new findings are strong," Ingraham writes. "But there's rarely such a thing as a slam-dunk in social science research. Donohue notes that 'different statistical models can yield different estimated effects, and our ability to ascertain the best model is imperfect.' Teasing out cause from effect in social science research is often a fraught proposition." (Read more)

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