Informing Changes to gun laws in order to Better Protect the General Public and Increase Police Effectiveness

The National Bureau of Economic Research (“NBER”) is a private institution that conducts peer-reviewed economics studies on public policy issues.  This essay summarizes, More Guns, More Unintended Consequences:  The Effects of Right-to-carry (“RTC”) on Criminal Behavior and Policing in US cities (NBER Working Paper 30190). 

  1. More people were attracted to gun ownership,
  2. Guns were commonly carried by their owners when they went out-of-doors,
  3. There was likely more contacts among people who were armed,
  4. Some of that contact might have been nefarious as an expansion of robberies that were previously among unarmed perpetrators and victims,
  5. Perpetrators might not comprehend that their victim might be armed as well, and result in either of two following results:
  6. There would be armed resistance between the perpetrator and the victim, or
  7. The perpetrator might have disarmed his victim and kept the stolen gun
  8. When the police became involved with any of the unintended consequences of the changes in right-to-carry laws, they would have to take greater precautions,
  9. The number of stolen guns added to the number of guns on the street, as the person who was disarmed, would more than likely become rearmed, and take better self-protective measures.

Forty years later all fifty states had concealed carry laws, and states’ laws existed on the basis that the state “shall issue” such a license to the weapon owner.  The words “unintended consequence” has become finding number one among the 47 cities having a population of 400,000 or more as of 2019.  The consequences occur only as a result of altered behavior of gun permit holders, career criminals, and the police and have led to the increase in gun thefts and reduced police effectiveness.

Following are the top-level results among the 47 cities, whose data was collected and analyzed for the working paper (all are for year 2019):

  1. There were nearly 300,000 aggravated assaults, homicides, and robberies committed with a firearm.
  2. The crimes in #1. increased by between 11 and 15 percent after RTC laws were adopted in the respective cities.
  3. The number of crimes that involved firearms increased by between 24 and 32 percent.
  4. Homicides increased nearly 13 percent and non-firearm homicide rates decreased by 3 percent.
  5. Police effectiveness decreased in cities covered by RTC laws.
  6. Clearance rates (the rate of arrest and conviction) fell between 7 and 15 percent, and total violent crime categories, clearance rates fell by 13%.
  7. It may be that clearance rates adversely dropped as a result of burdens on police time caused by; greater gun-carrying investigating of gun thefts, dealing with increases in accidental gun discharges and injuries, evaluating whether guns are being lawfully carried or addressing wrongful gun carrying into sensitive locales.There may be an effect for police hesitation dealing with a more heavily-armed civilian population.                                                                                                                                                December 15, 2022