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Thread: Why doesn't Gun Control or Right to Carry affect the crime rate significantly?

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    I've often used the argument that there's no evidence that gun control has ever worked to make society safer, while it infringes upon the rights of the individual to protect themselves. I also realize that the opposite is also true, that where gun control is loosened by allowing right-to-carry, it doesn't significantly reduce the crime rate.

    Why?

    I agree there may be somewhat of a deterrant factor when a small fraction of the populace starts carrying firearms. Some criminals may switch to non-personal crimes such as property crimes, but It must be a very small number that do so, otherwise thestatistics would stand out better.

    And of course we know that increasing gun control doesn't affect the criminals any, since they can always get a gun if they really want one, and they aren't affected by gun laws.

    Let's take a criminal. A meth addict, gang banger, or whatever. Let's say he mugs maybe 3-7 people a week, depending on how much money he can get or jewelry he can sell. He picks his targets with reasonable care, perferring (as studies have shown 9 out of 10 criminals do) to pick those in "condition white," and choosing to attack in the fringe areas (areas at the edges of populated sections, like parking lots, back streets, etc).

    If gun control INCREASES to severely restrict or ban right-to-carry, what logical affect do you think this will have on the criminal? He may realize there's less of a chance his victim may be armed, but he's already kindof careful picking his targets, and even if he wasn't, is the increased gun control going to increase the number of robberies he's going to commit? Is he going to think "Now I'm almost guaranteed that almost none of my victims are armed,so now I can double my production!"? I think he's still going to commit roughly the same number of crimes as he did before, but now he may need to be less careful about picking targets. Any increase in the crime rate may be because an area of defenseless victims will attract more criminals to the area, not because existing criminals will commit much more crimes.

    What about the opposite? If an area passes laws to allow the right-to-carry, will it really REDUCE how many crimes one criminal commits? It may make the criminal even more careful in his target selection, and it may take him longer to find an appropriate victim, but his goals really haven't changed. He's not going to take a cut in his intake, it just may take him longer to pick an appropriate target before he can go cash out, put his feet up and hang with his homies. There's always the small chance he may choose an armed victim, but when the rate of carry for citizens is only 1-4% and he's likely picking the ones in Condition White anyway, that's slim odds of countering armed resistance.

    On a side note, I saw someone in a recent thread quote one of the Gun Self Defense statistics, sayingthat 2.5 million crimes were prevented with a firearm in the US.Sure, they were prevented for the good guy with the gun, but it's much more accurate to say those 2.5 million crimes were deferred to the next victim, unless the perp was arrested or killed (which is very rare out of the 2.5 million statistic).

    Anyone have any holes in my theory, or does this sound like a good explanation of why changing gun control laws for better or worse doesn't affect the overall crime rate much?

    ...Orygunner...





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    I agree. Loosening gun laws doesn't automatically mean everyone has a gun and it doesn't automatically mean the criminals are going after armed people. The chances of two unlike events occuring together are extremely unlikely.

    Just as an example. If any given person has a 1/10,000 chance of being thetarget of a crime in a given year, and the chances of any given person being someone that carries is 1% (1/100), then the chances of being a crime target in a year, given that you're carryingare astronomically small, namely: 1/100,000,000 (feel free to check my math, but I'm pretty sure it's right) You might be better off playing the lottery.

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    I don't have specific numbers, and I don't have time to track them all down, but look at the places where guns are restricted the most severely. You will typically see higher violent crime rates.

    Someone who has checked the stats and gotten specific numbers is John Lott. He has written a few books on the subject. "More Guns, Less Crime" is just one of them.

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    AWDstylez wrote:
    I agree. Loosening gun laws doesn't automatically mean everyone has a gun and it doesn't automatically mean the criminals are going after armed people. The chances of two unlike events occuring together are extremely unlikely.

    Just as an example. If any given person has a 1/10,000 chance of being thetarget of a crime in a given year, and the chances of any given person being someone that carries is 1% (1/100), then the chances of being a crime target in a year, given that you're carryingare astronomically small, namely: 1/100,000,000 (feel free to check my math, but I'm pretty sure it's right) You might be better off playing the lottery.
    Not quite. Your odds of becoming a vic are still 1 in 10,000, or .01%. The 100 people in the sample might as well be wearing blue socks, since the perp basically picks his vics at random.

    The perp's chance of encountering an armed vic (or someone wearing blue socks) is 100/10,000, or 1 in 100 (1%).
    A law-abiding citizen should be able to carry his personal protection firearm anywhere that an armed criminal might go.

    Member VCDL, NRA

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    Gordie wrote:
    Someone who has checked the stats and gotten specific numbers is John Lott. He has written a few books on the subject. "More Guns, Less Crime" is just one of them.
    http://www.johnlott.org/ <<-- Lott's American Enterprise Institute site
    Instructions for Obtaining John R. Lott's Raw Data
    Most of this data involves STATA 7.0 data sets. The reason for using this is that the county level data involves a much larger set of control variables than can readily be handled by other statistical packages. The data sets can be obtained by clicking on the following links which will take you to the download page:[*]Chapter 6: MVPS Paper Data [*]Chapters 7 and 8: Safe Storage, Gun Shows, Assault Weapons Data [*]Appendix 1: Crime Data 77-00 Data [*]Appendix 2: Magazine Sales Data [*]2002 Survey on Defensive Gun Use Data [*]General Discussion of the 1997 and 2002 Surveys [*]Debate_over_Stanford_Law_Review [*]Confirming More Guns, Less Crime [*]All of the Above Sections

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    As I recall, Lott's AEI site requires registration but I also recall it as trivial. My browsers username/password thingie keeps it straight.

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    I agree that the reason a liberalization of carry rights doesn't have as big of an effect as itcouldis because most people still don't exercise the right when they have it. In some cases it is only maybe half of a percent or less of the population that carries. It may be 1-4% of the population with permits but it is also true that many of themhave the permit and still don't carryvery often. If you could getabout 50% of the population to carry it would have a much bigger impact.

    I think it is still helping, even at low levels though. If a mugger comes to one guy and gets a gun in his face, he may decide it wasn't as easy of a job as he thought it was. Also, that is one crime stopped right there. Might he mug someone else instead? Sure, but he just lost a few precious minutes of his time, minutes which he can't use to mug someone. And of course, sometimes muggers do get shot. I think criminals who areshot by private citizens (and police)have a much bigger impact on crime than those who are arrested since they are usually just released in short time.

    All the time there are news stories involving private citizens using firearms in self-defense leading to the hospitalization, arrest, or death of criminals. Every time this has happened, I think it is attributable as a definite benefit of allowing legal firearm use.I think there are also a large number of crimes stopped that are never reported. (And most of those that are reported don't make the news.) Even if only 1/100 crimes are stopped, that is still good, even if it doesn't make for fantastic statistics.

    And if we can make the idea of carrying more popular, and get 5-10%+ of the population to regularly carry, I think crime will drop like a brick. The more dangerous you make it to be a criminal, the less enticingit will beto be one, and the less successfulthey will be in their endeavours.If nearly100% of the population carried, it would be an extreme risk for criminals and "in your face" kinds of crime would probably nearly dissapear. (May not help as much to protect against them hotwiring your car though.)


    If criminals have to spend more time being careful about choosing weak targets, that will reduce the number of crimes they can commit in a given period of time which not only reduces their number of crimes but reduces their incentives to be a criminal. (Like a pay cut almost.)


    A more important reason than the societal benefits to allow people to carry is the individual benefit.To the individual, these benefits aremore substantial and direct. The individual who chooses to carry will definitely reduce his chances of being a victim, and all individuals should be allowed to make this choice.

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    Felid`Maximus wrote:

    If a mugger comes to one guy and gets a gun in his face, he may decide it wasn't as easy of a job as he thought it was. Also, that is one crime stopped right there. Might he mug someone else instead? Sure, but he just lost a few precious minutes of his time, minutes which he can't use to mug someone.

    ...

    If criminals have to spend more time being careful about choosing weak targets, that will reduce the number of crimes they can commit in a given period of time which not only reduces their number of crimes but reduces their incentives to be a criminal. (Like a pay cut almost.)



    That's part of what I'm questioning. Are we assuming that the average criminal has set hours of the day he's going to commit crimes, and if one crime is thwarted, it's going to dent his "productivity"? "I usually mugfour people between lunch and dinner, but I only got two because this one guy had a gun."?

    I propose that what may be more common is more like this: a) A bad guy needs or wants money (for their crack, or meth, gas, new shoes, whatever). b) He mugsone or more peopleor robs a store ortwofor the money he needs. c) He takes care ofhis need. d) back to step a) when it comes around again.

    Ifstep btakes him longer to find a victim less likely to be armed, or if one of his attempts is thwarted by an armed victim, I don't think that's going to decrease his needs or wants any, it's just going to make him more careful. He may have lost time, but it has NOT prevented the crime from occurring or reduced the number of crimes necessary to get what he needs, only deferred it to the next person. I think the criminal is going to continue to break the law until he gets what he wants, regardless of whether he is thwarted in some of his attempts or not.

    So I think it's closer to "It took me a little longer to get the money than I expected" than "I wasn't able to commit as many crimes today."

    Note: I'm not a criminologist, and not in Law Enforcement. I'm just trying to come up with a logical explanation for why when gun control is increased or removed there aren't any substantial changes in crime rates. Obviously my suggestions are just a blanket idea, and many exceptions will occur.

    And if we can make the idea of carrying more popular, and get 5-10%+ of the population to regularly carry, I think crime will drop like a brick. The more dangerous you make it to be a criminal, the less enticingit will beto be one, and the less successfulthey will be in their endeavours.If nearly100% of the population carried, it would be an extreme risk for criminals and "in your face" kinds of crime would probably dissapear. (May not help as much to protect against them hotwiring your car though.)
    I do agree that if MORE people carried, it would make a larger dent in personal violent crime, but where is that threshold? In that town where all citizens were required (with exceptions) to own and keep a firearm in their homes, crime dropped VERY substantially, so that should prove that close to 100% gun ownership will drive crime to the ground (or make the criminals choose to pack up and move elsewhere). Would 5% (1 in 20) armed citizens do it? 10%? 20%? I wonder where the crime rate really would start to drop off, and would it be because criminals just moved elsewhere, or really changed their ways?

    ...Orygunner...



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    The greater the costs, the less people do something in economic terms. You know this is true if you lookat the extremes. If there was no risk for a criminal and it was easy as just stepping out the door and asking someone for money, they would do it all the time. On the other extreme, if it took them 8 hours a day to mug one person, they had a 50% chance of death, muggings would be very rare. Being less extreme, even with costs likehaving to waitten minutes to mug someone, walk half a mile, andhavinga 1/10,000 chance of death, less people would be mugged than the extreme where they simply had to stand outside their door.

    Maybea muggercan make a living mugging4 people a week. Butif it was really easy to do, maybe they would want to do it 10 times a week so they get more benefits since it would hardly be a cost on their resources. But if it becomes more work, they would not mug as many people. If they could mug 10 people in an hour they would be more likely to work for more hours than if they could only mug 2 people an hour, just as you'd be more likely to work overtime if the pay is greater.

    All the numbers listed are hypothetical, but the point remains.

    I think its just economics, like how when the price of eggs goes up people buy less, or when the fast food resturaunt is 10 miles farther down the road from the city people buy less. (Due to costs of gas/time.)The laws of supply and demand apply to crime just as they do to everything else.

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    Going on information from online games and statistics, once you get past an approximate 5% occurrance rate, the likelihood of hitting the magic number goes up significantly in your sample sets.

    Some game devs (many years ago) took the time on a forum to explain some random number generator details and statistics. They showed all of us on that thread just how likely something was.

    What they showed us was that right around 5% is the tipping point for larger swings in percentages and it only gets worse the larger the percentage. Basically, if something happened 1% of the time, it would typically occur between 0.5% and 1.5% of the time, depending on the size of your sample set. Go up to 5% and you typically see anywhere from 3.5% to 7.5%, again varying on sample size.

    Now, seeing that on the average 1 out of 100 people I meet every day is carrying, those are decent averages if I was going to mug / rob someone. Move that up to 5% of the people every day, that becomes 1 out of 20. That's not so good.

    An average sized mall (like Lynnhaven Mall) has several hundred people in it at any given time during normal business hours. Would ANYONE want to rob a place in the mall if 5% of the people present were carrying? That's more firearms than any mall security I've ever seen equipped with.

    As with most statistics and numbers, it's easy to skew things. But you can easily testpercentage variance by flipping a coin and keeping track. The larger thing to remember is a % rate of occurrance is really only applicable over large sample sets (typically 10,000 or more samples per set).

    Lastly, you cannot forget to account for human perception. We readily remember the failures but often ignore / are oblivious to the successes. This can work for and against us. For us in that the bad guy starts to believe crime doesn't pay because he had a bad string of hold ups where the last 10 people were all armed. He may very well start thinking about a new line of work. Against us in that if the bad guy has the perception there aren't any guns in his way regardless of carry rate, then he would be emboldened to continue his life of crime.

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    And for what I was saying, I'm not assuming they have to work specific hours of the day. With less benefits and more work to recieve the benefits, they will just work less is all I'm saying.Maybe not even an individual mugger. An individual mugger may be willing and able to do three muggings if he has to spend all week long doing it and there are extreme risks. But overall, increased costs, including "being careful", will reduce the number of muggings by all muggersI would think. Each individual has different opportunity costs, and they will be affected differently.

    ETA:

    In a market, even very slight increases in price, like a few cents difference, can usuallycreate measurable changes in demand of a product or service.

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    I think similarly, gun control useseconomics to reduce defensive use of guns.

    Despite the people here on this forum, including myself, who are willing to open carry, many people would rather carry concealed than carry at all, and the costs of such permitssignificantly reduce the number of people who obtain them. I think Lott discussed this in one of his books as well. Where the fees were cheaper, people got more permits.

    In addition to buying the permits, the background check fees and other regulatory costs I'm sure also deter people from using firearms for their own defense, while having little effect on the criminals who mostly do not obtain firearms legally anyway. More than the fees, I think the hassle of the average citizen to try and obey all the laws is an even greater deterrant. They must learn which places to avoid and avoid them while armed (post offices, schools, etc.), or have to constantly transition between being armed and unarmed. This makes it not worth it to many people to carry guns.If it were as simple as strapping the gun on and going on with their day,the opportunity costsfor carrying would be much less. Criminals also don't have to avoid these places. Theywon't care if they arecarrying in a post office or a school.The possibility of being charged with a crime if caught might be a very small deterrant for them, but probably they already have a criminal record and chances of them getting caught are very small. Ifthey are there to commit armed robbery, theyespecially won't be deterred since theywill face far greater penalties for beingcaught afterarmed robbery than they would for carrying, and carrying does not increase their chances of going to jail if they are there to commit other more serious crimes.

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    2a4all wrote:
    The perp's chance of encountering an armed vic (or someone wearing blue socks) is 100/10,000, or 1 in 100 (1%).


    Ah, good point. I calculated a given person's risk, not the criminal's risk.



    LOL @ John Lott. I thought I covered that already. The guy is a fraud. Try to talk reality here, not made up statistics.

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    AWDstylez wrote:
    2a4all wrote:
    The perp's chance of encountering an armed vic (or someone wearing blue socks) is 100/10,000, or 1 in 100 (1%).


    Ah, good point. I calculated a given person's risk, not the criminal's risk.



    LOL @ John Lott. I thought I covered that already. The guy is a fraud. Try to talk reality here, not made up statistics.
    I suppose you can disprove his results?

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    Gordie wrote:
    I suppose you can disprove his results?

    Do your own research. He's been a proven fraud for a long time now.


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    There's a difference between "alleged" and "proved." Lott's raw numbers from every county speak for themselves.

    For a good example of "fraudulent," see Michael Bellesiles.

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    I think criminals are just stupid in general. Can't be very bright as they'd be able to hold a decent career otherwise.

    Doesn't seem to matter if someone's armed or not. They'll just keep at it until they find someone that won't shoot them.

    Desperation also drives a lot of felons. Drug addiction, power, adrenalin etc.

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    Caught criminals may be stupid. There are Bad Guys that are smarter than us.

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    XD-GEM wrote:
    There's a difference between "alleged" and "proved." Lott's raw numbers from every county speak for themselves.

    For a good example of "fraudulent," see Michael Bellesiles.
    I wonder if Bellesilses might have moved to Connecticut where his (lack of) style seems common.

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    XD-GEM wrote:
    There's a difference between "alleged" and "proved." Lott's raw numbers from every county speak for themselves.

    For a good example of "fraudulent," see Michael Bellesiles.


    Did I say alleged? No, no I didn't.

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    chris in va wrote:
    I think criminals are just stupid in general.
    That is a bad generalization to make. Criminals have the same distribution of intelligence as the community in general. That means some are really really dumb, others are extremely gifted, but most are just average. If those gifted criminals do happen to get caught, it's not because they are stupid, or even made a mistake. It's because the state has far more resources to expend in catching them than the criminal has to expend at not getting caught.

    Incidentally, that's also why organized crime figures are so difficult to bring to justice. They aren't necessarily any smarter than anyone else, they just have a greater resource pool upon which to draw. Sometimes, their resource pools even exceed those of the law enforcement agencies tasked with bringing them down.

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    Doug Huffman wrote:
    XD-GEM wrote:
    There's a difference between "alleged" and "proved." Lott's raw numbers from every county speak for themselves.

    For a good example of "fraudulent," see Michael Bellesiles.
    I wonder if Bellesilses might have moved to Connecticut where his (lack of) style seems common.
    That would certainly explain a lot.

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    chris in va wrote:
    I think criminals are just stupid in general. Can't be very bright as they'd be able to hold a decent career otherwise.

    Doesn't seem to matter if someone's armed or not. They'll just keep at it until they find someone that won't shoot them.

    Desperation also drives a lot of felons. Drug addiction, power, adrenalin etc.
    I'd have to dissagree with you about the generalization of crooks being stupid. Sure, some are, and they usually have very short carreers. I'd say that laziness would be a more pronounced trait among criminals. They dont want to work on their school work in order to get a decent job. Or they don't want to be confined to a 40 hour work week. What ever their reason, they plain don't want to work for a living, like the rest of us. Oh yeah, there's also the addicts that can't hold down a job because they're too messed up on drugs or alcohol.

    For most criminals, it does matter if their target is armed or not. But they'll keep at it until they pick a potential victem that does shoot them. That tends to be a carreer ender.

    The addicts and adrenalin junkies may fall into the "not so smart" category. They tend to take more risks.



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    Statistics may very well show that a state merely having the freedom to carry weapons doesn't decrease crime or increase the amount of crime prevented or stopped by citizens protecting themselves, but I think statistics show(& common sense)pretty clearly that in cases where citizens ARE armed to protect themselves much, much more crime is prevented or stopped. I don't havea link to statistics, but I think we all know it's true. Even in other countries... Take Switzerland. Back when they were still a great example for the rest of the world, basically every able bodied male was in the militia (the MILITIA, NOT the MILITARY), and even after he retired he likely stayed armed. In a country where almost every house has at least one adult male who is armed and trained to fight militaries, do you think there's as much random crime, or crime at all? No, there isn't. At least, not crime that infringes on others.
    Advocate freedom please

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    stealthyeliminator wrote:
    I don't havea link to statistics, but I think we all know it's true.

    Common knowledge is nearly always wrong.

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