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Dynamics in Gun Ownership and Crime - Evidence from the Aftermath of Sandy Hook

Christoph Koenig () and David Schindler ()

Bristol Economics Discussion Papers from School of Economics, University of Bristol, UK

Abstract: Gun rights activists in the United States frequently argue that the right to bear arms, as guaranteed by the Second Amendment, can help deter crime. Advocates of gun control usually respond that firearm prevalence contributes positively to violent crime rates. In this paper, we provide quasi-experimental evidence that a positive and unexpected gun demand shock led to an increase in murder rates after the mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School and the resulting gun control debate in December 2012. In states where purchases were delayed due to mandatory waiting periods and bureaucratic hurdles in issuing a gun permit, firearm sales exhibited weaker increases than in states without any such delays. We show that this finding is hard to reconcile with standard economic theory, but is in line with findings from behavioral economics. States that saw more gun sales then experienced significantly higher murder rates in the months following the demand shock, as murders increased by 6-15% over the course of a year.

Keywords: Guns; crime; deterrence; demand shock; murder. (search for similar items in EconPapers)
JEL-codes: K42 H76 H10 K14 (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Pages: 58 pages.
Date: 2018-01-19
New Economics Papers: this item is included in nep-exp and nep-law
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