Community Gun Prevalence as a Lure and Deterrent to Burglars

Philip J. Cook, Duke University
Jens Otto Ludwig, Georgetown University

A common argument against gun control is that the widespread ownership of guns provides a deterrent to burglary, and especially to the burglary of occupied dwellings, in much the same way that Lojack provides a general deterrent to auto theft. The evidence in support of this assertion includes interviews with burglars and limited international comparisons. Widespread gun ownership may also provide an incentive that increases burglary rates, simply because stolen guns are easily and profitably fenced. In many cases guns are the only items stolen in a burglary. Thenet relationship between gun ownership and burglary can only be resolved empirically, but to date there has been no systematic empirical research on this issue. In this paper we estimate the relationship between gun prevalence and various measures of burglary using both the Uniform Crime Report data and the geocoded version of the National Crime Victimization Survey data.

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Updated 05/20/2006