Steve Chapman on Chicago's Gun Control

As always, Steve Chapman has a very useful article on this subject:

If there are too many guns in Chicago, it's not because of any statutory oversight. The city has long outlawed the sale and possession of handguns. It also forbids assault weapons. If prohibition were the answer, no one would be asking the question ... Gun control hasn't worked as a remedy for crime. So what makes anyone think the answer is more gun control?

Here is the part that I liked best:

It has done so despite the alleged problem cited by Weis, which is the availability of guns, and particularly one type of gun. "There are just too many weapons here," he declared at a Sunday news conference. "Why in the world do we allow citizens to own assault rifles?"

Actually, in Chicago, "we" don't allow citizens to own assault rifles. Elsewhere, they are allowed for the same reason other firearms are permitted. The gun Weis villainized is a type of semiautomatic that has a fearsome military appearance but is functionally identical to many legal sporting arms.

And its bark is worse than its bite. As of March 31, there had been 87 homicides in the city. When I asked the Chicago Police Department how many of the murders are known to have involved assault rifles, the answer came back: One.

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

Professor Lott!

I've always had a gut feeling that gun crime correlated more closely with the price of cocaine than with the availability of guns. In defending MGLC I heard you mention running tons of numbers with various controls, but I was wondering if you ever compared gun crime to the price of cocaine. Have you? If so, what did they look like?


4/26/2008 12:41 AM  
Blogger John Lott said...

Yes, MGLC talks about accounting for the impact of cocaine in several different ways. While I do try to account for changes in cocaine prices, other methods are more interested in making sure that it doesn't confound other variables that I am looking at. The effect of cocaine prices over the whole period isn't huge, but I think that the effect is large from the mid1980s to mid1990s.

4/26/2008 12:13 PM  

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