New research on Right-to-carry laws

You can find the new paper here.

The Debate on Shall-Issue Laws
Carlisle E. Moody and Thomas B. Marvell


“Shall issue” right-to-carry concealed weapons laws require authorities to issue concealed-weapons permits, allowing the permit holder to carry a concealed handgun, to anyone who applies, unless the applicant has a criminal record or a history of mental illness. The shall-issue laws are state laws, applicable to all counties within the state.3 In contrast, states with “may issue” laws allow considerable discretion to the authorities. In may-issue states, authorities typically require that the applicant demonstrate a particular need for a concealed weapons permit, and self-defense usually is not deemed sufficient. Consequently, shall-issue states are much more permissive of individual freedom to carry concealed handguns.

In 1997 John Lott and David Mustard published, “Crime, Deterrence and Right-to-Carry Concealed Handguns” in the Journal of Legal Studies. They found that shall-issue states had lower violent crime rates, presumably because the laws result in more people carrying concealed weapons. Criminals might be deterred by the greater likelihood of others being armed, and of arms being concealed. Lott and Mustard’s article created a furor and the debate continues. Much of this debate takes place in op-ed columns, letters to editors, internet chat rooms, and web logs. In this article we concentrate on the academic debate. We review the main threads of the discussion in the literature and extend the debate with our own statistical analyses. In particular, we extend the investigation of influential work in Stanford Law Review by Ian Ayres and John J. Donohue III (2003a, 2003b), who, contrary to Lott and Mustard, claim to find that shall-issue laws actually lead to an overall increase in crime. The new statistical analysis contained in the present article finds that shall issue laws are generally beneficial. Purists in statistical analysis object with some cause to some of methods employed both by Ayres and Donohue, by us, and by the literature in general. But the new investigation presented here upgrades Ayres and Donohue in a few significant ways, so, at least until the next study comes along, our paper should neutralize Ayres and Donohue’s “more guns, more crime” conclusion.

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Anonymous Joe Fic. said...

Thanks Dr. Lott for the analysis and revisiting the debate caused by Ayers and Donahue. I always find it a form of intellectual dishonesty when analysts exclude parts of the whole picture (in this case 5 vs 6 or more years) in order to make their points.
I wonder how the economic benefits would look if you were to include the many, many attempted crimes(a la Dr. Kleck) thwarted by CCW holders as a potential cost? Even better I think!

11/04/2008 6:42 AM  
Blogger Kris said...

Dear Ayres and Donohue,

We have reviewed your work and concluded that you purposefully obfuscated your own results in order to promote your political beliefs and, indirectly, violent crime.

Of course, we will assume good faith in this paper as we embarrass you with superior analysis.


Moody and Marvell

11/04/2008 7:08 AM  
Anonymous Nathan said...

Why would there be an initial cost to the shall-issue laws?

Is that a real cost or does it have to do with their methods?

11/05/2008 12:05 AM  

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