New Study’s Holes: Propaganda from Johns Hopkins

Law Shield wants to alert our members that the reliably anti-gun Washington Post is promoting a new study on gun usage and crime as research that is said to debunk economists John Lott and David Mustard’s landmark 1997 study, “Crime, Deterrence, and Right-to-Carry Concealed Handguns.”

The 1997 Lott/Mustard study has been important to the gun-rights effort because the research has been widely cited and used by lawmakers and found “allowing citizens to carry concealed weapons deters violent crimes and it appears to produce no increase in accidental deaths.”

The name of the new study is “The Impact of Right to Carry Laws and the NRC Report: The Latest Lessons for the Empirical Evaluation of Law and Policy,” by Abhay Aneja of Stanford University, John J. Donohue III of Stanford Law School, and Alexandria Zhang of Johns Hopkins University. It’s dated September 4, 2014 and is available here.

According to one of the researchers, Donohue, in an interview with the Stanford Report, said, “The totality of the evidence based on educated judgments about the best statistical models suggests that right-to-carry laws are associated with substantially higher rates” of aggravated assault, robbery, rape and murder.

Gun owners may have to counter opposition propaganda touting this new study online or in person, so here are three quick hits to punch holes in the Post’s assertion that the idea of “more guns less crime” has been “debunked.”

Gun Sales Are Way Up; Crime Is Way Down

Correlation isn’t causation, but the estimated number of violent crimes in the nation decreased 4.4 percent in 2013 when compared with 2012 data, according to FBI figures released on Nov. 10, 2014. When considering 5- and 10-year trends, the 2013 estimated violent crime total was 12.3 percent below the 2009 level and 14.5 percent below the 2004 level. Click here to see the FBI’s annual report, “Crime in the United States, 2013.”

Concealed Carry Numbers Are Climbing

The last comprehensive report on the number of concealed carry permit holders was completed three years ago by the U.S. Government Accountability Office and showed that 8 million Americans held a concealed carry permit. The Crime Prevention Research Center collected the most recent data available for each state and the results showed that there are total of 11,113,013 Americans who currently hold concealed carry permits representing 4.8 percent of the total population.

The number of concealed carry permit holders is likely much higher than 11.1 million because numbers are not available for all states that issue permits, such as New York. Additionally, four states and the majority of Montana do not require that residents have a concealed handgun permit to carry within the state so the number of residents who carry a concealed weapon is not recorded. Click here to see the report, “Concealed Carry Permit Holders Across the United States,” dated July 9, 2014.

“The Impact of Right to Carry Laws” Is the Outlier

In a 2012 paper for the Maryland Law Review, “What a Balancing Test Will Show for Right-To-Carry Laws,” Lott catalogs the major criminologists’ papers and economists’ findings on what effects carry laws have. In Table 2, beginning on page 2012-1213, he shows 18 refereed academic studies showing carry laws reduced crime; 10 studies showed no discernible effects; and just one — a predecessor to the current study by Aneja, Donohue & Zhang — in 2011 showed increased violent crime.

If you’d like to see a more formal takedown of the methodology and math of “The Impact of Right to Carry Laws,” click here.

Do you think concealed carry helps keep crime down? Let us hear your opinions in the comments section below.

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