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The Latest Misfires in Support of the More Guns, Less Crime Hypothesis (with John J. Donohue III), 55 Stanford Law Review 1371 (2003)


In our initial article—Shooting Down the More Guns, Less Crime Hypothesis—we reached two main conclusions: First, that there was no credible statistical evidence that the adoption of concealed-carry (or "shall-issue") laws reduced crime; and second, that the best, although admittedly quite imperfect, data suggested that the laws increased the costs of crime to the tune of $1 billion per year (which is a relatively small number given the total cost of FBI index crimes of roughly $114 billion per year). In their response to our article, Florenz Plassmann and John Whitley (PW) offer two sets of evidence in support of their view that that concealed-carry laws are beneficial: First, they argue that some of our regression specifications really buttress their position; and second, they analyze some new county data for the period 1977-2000.

Their first method of proof fails because it simply overlooks—without even a single word of commentary!—the entire thrust of our paper: that aggregated specifications of the effects of these laws are badly marred by "jurisdiction selection" effects. We did not misread these aggregated estimates, as PW suggest; we simply showed that the PW claims based on these aggregated estimates are inaccurate and misleading. The data at every turn reject the idea that concealed-carry laws passed in different jurisdictions have a uniform impact on crime. Therefore, the results of disaggregated regressions must, counter to PW's claim, be taken as a more authoritative assessment of the overall impact of concealed-carry laws.

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