Ignored Harvard Study Found More Guns Mean Less Crime

Nobody seemed to notice until now that a study appearing in the Harvard Journal of Law & Public Policy in 2007 concluded that the more guns a nation has, the less criminal activity is present.

This story on beliefnet.com calls the research report, authored by Don B. Kates and Dr. Gary Mauser, "virtually unpublicized" though it cites the Centers for Disease Control, the U.S. National Academy of Sciences, and the United Nations International Study on Firearms Regulation.

"The study was overlooked when it first came out in 2007," writes Michael Snyder," but it was recently re-discovered and while the findings may not surprise some, the place where the study was undertaken is a bit surprising. The study came from the Harvard Journal of Law, the bastion of extreme, Ivy League liberalism. The report titled 'Would Banning Firearms Reduce Murder and Suicide?' found some surprising things."

"The popular assertion that the United States has the industrialized world's highest murder rate, says the Harvard study, is a throwback to the Cold War when Russian murder rates were nearly four times higher than American rates. In a strategic disinformation campaign, the U.S. was painted worldwide as a gunslinging nightmare of street violence—far worse than what was going on in Russia. The line was repeated so many time that many believed it to be true. Now, many still do."

Today, the Russian people are virtually disarmed.

"International evidence and comparisons have long been offered as proof of the mantra that more guns mean more deaths and that fewer guns, therefore, mean fewer deaths. Unfortunately, such discussions are all to often been afflicted by misconceptions and factual error," write Kates and Mauser.

By the early 1990s, Russia's murder rate was three times higher than that of the U.S. Kates and Mauser write that "Homicide results suggest that where guns are scarce, other weapons are substituted in killings."

"There is a compound assertion that guns are uniquely available in the United States compared with other modern developed nations, which is why the United States has by far the highest murder rate," Kates and Mauser write. "Though these assertions have been endlessly repeated, the statement is, in fact, false."

When Kates and Mauser compared England with the U.S., they found "'a negative correlation,' that is, 'where firearms are most dense, violent crime rates are lowest, and where guns are least dense, violent crime rates are highest.' There is no consistent significant positive association between gun ownership and violence rates."

The authors also note that, in 2004, the U.S. National Academy of Sciences released an evaluation from its review of existing research. After reviewing 253 journal articles, 99 books, 43 government publications and its own original empirical research, it failed to identify any gun control that had reduced violent crime, suicide, or gun accidents.

"The same conclusion was reached in 2003 by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control," write Kates and Mauser. "Armed crime, never a problem in England, has now become one. Handguns are banned but the Kingdom has millions of illegal firearms. Criminals have no trouble finding them and exhibit a new willingness to use them. In the late 1990s, England moved from stringent controls to a complete ban of all handguns and many types of long guns. Hundreds of thousands of guns were confiscated from those owners law-abiding enough to turn them in to authorities. But crime increased instead of decreasing."

There's a lot of information in the article and the study. You can read them both here.