New gun lock research from Australia
When I talked to Jenny, one question that I asked her was how many defensive gun uses there were in Australia, and she told me that it was a crime to use a gun defensively, though she didn't know more than that. She did not even know how many prosecutions there were of defensive uses (completely guessing it could be a dozen times a year that people are prosecuted), though I noted that would presumably provide a lower bound on defensive uses since not all such cases are likely to be reported to the police. The bottom line that I tried to get across to her is that while she advocates locking up guns, it is quite possible that more lives were lost from locking up guns and people not being able to use them defensively than were saved by locks making it difficult for criminals to steal guns. Unfortunately, her report completely ignores this trade-off despite our discussion. My research published in the Journal of Law and Economics on gun lock laws in the United States that explicitly analyzes this trade-off was presented at conference she attended in New Zealand earlier this year.
The report indicates that in Australia .04% of guns were stolen (1 out of every 2,500 guns). That means that .0003% of guns owned lawfully are stolen and used in a "crime or violence." Given the very expensive safes required to lock up the guns, I wouldn't be surprised if the costs of the locks alone more than offset and benefits from the regulations. Though it is not the levels but the changes in crimes with stolen guns that is the issue, that benefit is also likely to be small as the report acknowledges that there was a downward pre-existing trend in firearms stolen prior to the gun lock requirements and that it continued afterwards.
She makes a lot of strong claims that guns should be locked up, but there is really no evidence in this paper that proves that the benefits exceed the costs. To do that type of study you want to see how much these gun lock laws changed the number of crimes committed with guns or at least the number of guns stolen and compare it to the costs of those laws (fewer defensive uses, cost of locks, etc.). The report doesn't really systematically examine any of these changes or trade-offs in costs and benefits. As just noted, the closest that the report comes to any of this is to say that there was a downward pre-existing trend in firearms stolen prior to the gun lock requirements and that it continued afterwards.
Thanks to James Murray for alerting me to this study.