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Trends in Gun Ownership in the United States, 1972-2014

March 13, 2015 Comments off

Trends in Gun Ownership in the United States, 1972-2014 (PDF)
Source: NORC at the University of Chicago

The household ownership of firearms has declined in recent decades.

31.0% of households reported having a firearm in 2014, essentially tying with 2010 for the lowest level of gun ownership in the last 40-some years. This is a decline of about 17 percentage points from the peak ownership years in 1977-1980.

One of the main reasons for the decline in household firearm ownership is the decrease in the popularity of hunting.

In 2014, personal firearms ownership was 14.0% for those under 35 and 30.4 % for those 65+ for an age gap of 16.4 points.

The Impact of Right to Carry Laws and the National Research Council Report: The Latest Lessons for the Empirical Evaluation of Law and Policy

March 3, 2015 Comments off

The Impact of Right to Carry Laws and the NRC Report: The Latest Lessons for the Empirical Evaluation of Law and Policy
Source: Social Science Research Network

For over a decade, there has been a spirited academic debate over the impact on crime of laws that grant citizens the presumptive right to carry concealed handguns in public – so-called right-to-carry (RTC) laws. In 2004, the National Research Council (NRC) offered a critical evaluation of the “More Guns, Less Crime” hypothesis using county-level crime data for the period 1977-2000. 15 of the 16 academic members of the NRC panel essentially concluded that the existing research was inadequate to conclude that RTC laws increased or decreased crime. One member of the panel thought the NRC’s panel data regressions showed that RTC laws decreased murder, but the other 15 responded by saying that “the scientific evidence does not support” that position.

We evaluate the NRC evidence, and improve and expand on the report’s county data analysis by analyzing an additional six years of county data as well as state panel data for the period 1979-2010. We also present evidence using both a more plausible version of the Lott and Mustard specification, as well as our own preferred specification (which, unlike the Lott and Mustard model presented in the NRC report, does control for rates of incarceration and police). While we have considerable sympathy with the NRC’s majority view about the difficulty of drawing conclusions from simple panel data models and re-affirm its finding that the conclusion of the dissenting panel member that RTC laws reduce murder has no statistical support, we disagree with the NRC report’s judgment on one methodological point: the NRC report states that cluster adjustments to correct for serial correlation are not needed in these panel data regressions, but our randomization tests show that without such adjustments the Type 1 error soars to 22-73 percent.

Our paper highlights some important questions to consider when using panel data methods to resolve questions of law and policy effectiveness. We buttress the NRC’s cautious conclusion regarding the effects of RTC laws by showing how sensitive the estimated impact of RTC laws is to different data periods, the use of state versus county data, particular specifications (especially the Lott-Mustard inclusion of 36 highly collinear demographic variables), and the decision to control for state trends.
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Student Perceptions and Practices Regarding Carrying Concealed Handguns on University Campuses

February 13, 2015 Comments off

Student Perceptions and Practices Regarding Carrying Concealed Handguns on University Campuses
Source: Journal of American College Health
Objective:
This multisite study assessed college student’s perceptions and practices regarding carrying concealed handguns on campus.

Participants:
Undergraduate students from 15 public midwestern universities were surveyed (N = 1,800).

Methods:
Faculty members distributed the questionnaire to students in general education classes or classes broadly representative of undergraduate students.

Results:
Useable questionnaires were returned by 1,649 students (92%). The majority (78%) of students was not supportive of concealed handguns on campuses, and 78% claimed that they would not obtain a permit to carry a handgun on campus, if it were legal. Those who perceived more disadvantages to carrying handguns on campus were females, who did not own firearms, did not have a firearm in the home growing up, and were not concerned with becoming a victim of crime.

Conclusions:
The majority of students was not supportive of concealed handguns on campus and claimed that they would not feel safer if students and faculty carried concealed handguns.

Concealed Carry Killers Responsible for At Least 722 Deaths Since 2007

February 12, 2015 Comments off

Concealed Carry Killers Responsible for At Least 722 Deaths Since 2007
Source: Violence Policy Center

Individuals with permits to carry concealed handguns in public are responsible for at least 722 non-self defense deaths since 2007, a number that likely represents a fraction of the actual total, according to updated data released today by the Violence Policy Center (VPC).

One of the most recent victims was Dr. Michael Davidson, a cardiac surgeon at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston. Concealed handgun permit holder Stephen Pasceri shot and killed Davidson on January 20, 2015, before turning the 40 caliber pistol on himself.

Details on this killing and hundreds of others can be found in the latest update to Concealed Carry Killers, an online resource that provides examples of non-self defense killings by private citizens with permits to carry concealed handguns in public. Overall, Concealed Carry Killers documents 544 incidents since May 2007 in 36 states and the District of Columbia, resulting in the deaths of 722 people.

“In Boston, a concealed h

Army releases investigation results of April 2014 shooting at Fort Hood

February 3, 2015 Comments off

Army releases investigation results of April 2014 shooting at Fort Hood
Source: U.S. Army

he U.S. Army today released its months-long investigation into an April 2014 shooting at Fort Hood, Texas, that left four people dead, concluding that there was nothing in the assailant’s background, medical or military profile that might have provided an early warning for potential violence.

On April 2, 2014, Spec. Ivan Lopez-Lopez opened fire at several locations on the sprawling Army installation, killing three Soldiers and wounding 12. Lopez-Lopez took his own life after being confronted by a military police officer.

“We find no indication in his medical and personnel records suggesting Spec. Lopez-Lopez was likely to commit a violent act,” wrote Lt. Gen. Joseph E. Martz, who led an investigation team that interviewed and obtained sworn statements from 169 witnesses, in addition to reviewing materials and statements gathered during an earlier criminal investigation.

Martz’s investigation also determined that no “single event or stressor, in isolation, was the cause of the shooting.”

+ Full report and appendices (redacted)

The Impact of Right to Carry Laws and the NRC Report: The Latest Lessons for the Empirical Evaluation of Law and Policy

January 6, 2015 Comments off

The Impact of Right to Carry Laws and the NRC Report: The Latest Lessons for the Empirical Evaluation of Law and Policy
Source: Social Science Research Network

For over a decade, there has been a spirited academic debate over the impact on crime of laws that grant citizens the presumptive right to carry concealed handguns in public – so-called right-to-carry (RTC) laws. In 2004, the National Research Council (NRC) offered a critical evaluation of the “More Guns, Less Crime” hypothesis using county-level crime data for the period 1977-2000. 15 of the 16 academic members of the NRC panel essentially concluded that the existing research was inadequate to conclude that RTC laws increased or decreased crime. One member of the panel thought the NRC’s panel data regressions showed that RTC laws decreased murder, but the other 15 responded by saying that “the scientific evidence does not support” that position.

We evaluate the NRC evidence, and improve and expand on the report’s county data analysis by analyzing an additional six years of county data as well as state panel data for the period 1979-2010. We also present evidence using both a more plausible version of the Lott and Mustard specification, as well as our own preferred specification (which, unlike the Lott and Mustard model presented in the NRC report, does control for rates of incarceration and police). While we have considerable sympathy with the NRC’s majority view about the difficulty of drawing conclusions from simple panel data models and re-affirm its finding that the conclusion of the dissenting panel member that RTC laws reduce murder has no statistical support, we disagree with the NRC report’s judgment on one methodological point: the NRC report states that cluster adjustments to correct for serial correlation are not needed in these panel data regressions, but our randomization tests show that without such adjustments the Type 1 error soars to 22-73 percent.

Our paper highlights some important questions to consider when using panel data methods to resolve questions of law and policy effectiveness. We buttress the NRC’s cautious conclusion regarding the effects of RTC laws by showing how sensitive the estimated impact of RTC laws is to different data periods, the use of state versus county data, particular specifications (especially the Lott-Mustard inclusion of 36 highly collinear demographic variables), and the decision to control for state trends.

Across the basic seven Index I crime categories, the strongest evidence of a statistically significant effect would be for aggravated assault, with 11 of 28 estimates suggesting that RTC laws increase this crime at the .10 confidence level. An omitted variable bias test on our preferred Table 8a results suggests that our estimated 8 percent increase in aggravated assaults from RTC laws may understate the true harmful impact of RTC laws on aggravated assault, which may explain why this finding is only significant at the .10 level in many of our models. Our analysis of the year-by-year impact of RTC laws also suggests that RTC laws increase aggravated assaults. Our analysis of admittedly imperfect gun aggravated assaults provides suggestive evidence that RTC laws may be associated with large increases in this crime, perhaps increasing such gun assaults by almost 33 percent.

In addition to aggravated assault, the most plausible state models conducted over the entire 1979-2010 period provide evidence that RTC laws increase rape and robbery (but usually only at the .10 level). In contrast, for the period from 1999-2010 (which seeks to remove the confounding influence of the crack cocaine epidemic), the preferred state model (for those who accept the Wolfers proposition that one should not control for state trends) yields statistically significant evidence for only one crime – suggesting that RTC laws increase the rate of murder at the .05 significance level. It will be worth exploring whether other methodological approaches and/or additional years of data will confirm the results of this panel-data analysis and clarify some of the highly sensitive results and anomalies (such as the occasional estimates that RTC laws lead to higher rates of property crime) that have plagued this inquiry for over a decade.

The Epidemiology of Firearm Violence in the Twenty-First Century United States

December 22, 2014 Comments off

The Epidemiology of Firearm Violence in the Twenty-First Century United States (PDF)
Source: Annual Review of Public Health (forthcoming)

This brief review summarizes the basic epidemiology of firearm violence, a large and costly public health problem in the United States for which the mortality rate has remained unchanged for more than a decade. It presents findings for the present in light of recent trends. Risk for firearm violence varies substantially across demographic subsets of the population and between states in patterns that are quite different for suicide and homicide. Suicide is far more common than homicide and its rate is increasing; the homicide rate is decreasing. As with other important health problems, most cases of fatal firearm violence arise from large but low-risk subsets of the population; risk and burden of illness are not distributed symmetrically. Compared with other industrialized nations, the United States has uniquely high mortality rates from firearm violence.

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