The Effects of Gun Ownership Levels and Gun Control Laws on Urban Crime Rates

Gary Kleck, Florida State University
Tomislav V. Kovandzic, University of Alabama at Birmingham

We assessed the effects of 29 major types of gun control regulations on rates of violent crime using a cross-sectional city-level analysis of crime rates as of 1990. The analysis was based on data for 1,033 cities with 25,000 or more residents, the largest number of jurisdictions ever examined in a gun control study. We evaluated every major category of gun law that prevailed in 1990, including both local ordinances and state laws. The effects of gun ownership levels on violence rates were estimated using a validated measure of gun ownership levels. Two dozen potential confounding variables were controlled to help isolate the effects of gun laws. Simultaneous equations models were estimated using two-stage least-squares procedures, to model possible two-way relationships between crime rates and gun levels. We estimated both direct effects of gun laws on crime rates and their indirect effects on crime rates through gun ownership levels. Findings and policy implications are presented.

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Updated 05/20/2006