Do Guns Make Robberies More Deadly? An Analysis of the Impact of Weapons on the Lethality of Robbery Related Homicide

Christopher A. Kierkus, University at Albany

The goal of this study is to determine if the presence of a weapon increases the "lethality" of the crime of robbery. Factors such as the number of offenders involved as well as the ages and genders of the victim(s) and the offender(s) are held constant. The primary hypothesis is that the presence of a firearm will increase the number of victims killed during robberies that result in homicide.

Multivariate regression analysis is used to analyze data from the Supplementary Homicide Reports (SHR) 1976-1999. Only homicides that occurred as the result of robbery are considered. The primary hypothesis is supported. The presence of a firearm significantly increases both the probability that robbery will result in multiple murder and the number of victims killed. Conversely, personal weapons (such as knives and blunt objects) do not increase the lethality of robbery related homicide. One can therefore conclude that the presence of firearms makes robbery a more "deadly" crime.

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Updated 05/20/2006