Response to Jack D’Aurora's column in the Columbus Dispatch on the supposed dangers of concealed handguns
Almost every day we read about gun deaths. What’s behind this problem? The National Rifle Association tells us, “Guns don’t kill people. People kill people.” Let’s go with that. The FBI reports that in 2012, people killed 144 babies, 422 kids age 12 and under, 1,327 teenagers, 96 husbands, 498 wives, 140 mothers, 126 fathers, 168 boyfriends, 494 girlfriends and thousands of others, for a grand total of 12,723 people — with guns.
The numbers will not go down dramatically until we change focus. If we’re serious about reducing gun deaths, we need to stop debating whether more guns in the hands of law-abiding citizens result in less crime. It’s the wrong issue, and the evidence is inconclusive.
Economist John Lott was perhaps the first to champion the idea that more guns means less crime; others are in his camp. In response, scholars Ian Ayres and John J. Donohue III and others have refuted Lott’s conclusion. The National Research Council concluded in 2004 that there is “no credible evidence that the passage of right-to-carry laws decreases or increases violent crime.” The council also found that statistics concerning defensive gun use were unreliable because of “ disagreement over the definition of defensive gun use and uncertainty over the accuracy of survey responses to sensitive questions and the methods of data collection.” . . .From the beginning of my response on May 3rd:
In his recent op-ed, Jack D’Aurora cherry-picks a couple of old studies from 2003 and 2004 (“ Focus needs to be on reducing gun deaths,” April 21). He conveniently ignores the massive body of research conducted for well over a decade and a half. But even doing that, the worst that D’Aurora can claim is that concealed-carry laws do not increase crime.
Consider peer-reviewed studies by criminologists and economists that examined national data. Twenty of them found right-to-carry laws reduced violent crime; 11 indicated no discernible effect. But absolutely none found that concealed-carry laws increase murder, rape or robbery rates.
When the 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals struck down Illinois’ ban on concealed handguns in December 2012, Judge Richard Posner, writing for the majority, noted: “Illinois had to provide us with more than merely a rational basis for believing that its uniquely sweeping ban is justified by an increase in public safety. It has failed to meet this burden.”
D’Aurora’s column cited a 2003 non-peer-reviewed article by Ian Ayres and John Donohue, who claimed to have found a small temporary increase in crime, followed by a downward trend. Their conclusion was that concealed-carry really had no effect on crime rates. . . .The editor slightly changed the conclusion of my letter. The conclusion was originally: "D’Aurora cherry-picks studies that are closest to his views and then ignores that same research when it doesn’t support the gun laws he supports."
In case the link to my letter gets broken, you can click on the screen shot below.