"Would Banning Firearms Reduce Murder and Suicide? A Review of International Evidence"
QUOTE: “If firearms availability does matter, the data consistently show that the way it matters is that more guns = less violent crime.”
bepress Legal Series. (August 17, 2006).
Working Paper 1564. http://law.bepress.com/expresso/eps/1564
[115 page paper can be downloaded at link]
The world abounds in instruments with which people can kill each other. Is the widespread availability of one of these instruments, firearms, a crucial determinant of the incidence of murder? Or do patterns of murder and/or violent crime reflect basic socio-economic and/or cultural factors to which the mere availability of one particular form of weaponry is irrelevant?
This article examines a broad range of international data that bear on two distinct but interrelated questions: first, whether widespread firearm access is an important contributing factor in murder and/or suicide, and second, whether the introduction of laws that restrict general access to firearms has been successful in reducing violent crime, homicide or suicide.
Our conclusion from the available data is that suicide, murder and violent crime rates are determined by basic social, economic and/or cultural factors with the availability of any particular one of the world’s myriad deadly instrument being irrelevant.
Don B. Kates (Ll.B., Yale, 1966) is an American criminologist and constitutional lawyer
associated with the Pacific Research Institute, San Francisco.
Gary Mauser (Ph.D., U. California, Irvine, 1970) is a Canadian criminologist and
university professor at Simon Fraser University, Burnaby, BC Canada.
PAPER SECTION: More Guns, Less Crime (pgs. 30 – 34 excerpted)
High gun ownership may well be a factor in the recent drastic decline in American homicide. But even so American homicide is driven by socio-economic and cultural factors which keep it far higher than in most European nations.
Moreover there is not insubstantial evidence that in the United States widespread gun availability has helped reduce murder and other violent crime rates. But on closer analysis this evidence is uniquely applicable to the U.S., and inapplicable to other nations.
The latest analysis reveals "a great deal of self-defensive gun use" in the U.S., "in fact, more defensive gun uses [by victims] than crimes committed with firearms. 72”
Robbery is highest in states that most restrict gun ownership."73 It is little wonder that National Institute of Justice surveys among prison inmates find large percentages saying fear that a victim might be armed deterred them from confrontation crimes.
A series of studies by John Lott and his co-author David Mustard conclude that the issuance of millions of permits to carry concealed handguns are associated with drastic declines American homicide rates. 74
In nations that have experienced high and rising violent crime rates, the legislative reaction has generally been to enact increasingly severe anti-gun laws. This is futile for reducing gun ownership by the law-abiding citizenry – the only ones who obey gun laws – does not reduce violence or murder. The result is that high crime nations that ban guns to reduce crime end up having both high crime and stringent gun laws, while low crime nations which do not much restrict guns continue to have low violence rates.
Whether gun availability be viewed as a cause or as a mere coincidence, the long term macrocosmic evidence is that gun ownership spread widely throughout societies consistently correlates with stable or declining murder rates. This pattern simply cannot be squared with the mantra that more guns = more death and fewer guns = less. Whether causative or not, the consistent international pattern is that more guns = less murder and other violent crime.