Post #1: End of Research

During the initial stage of research for my project, I went chronologically through the most well-known economic literature on gun violence in the United States from the past twenty five years, beginning with the notorious “More Guns, Less Crime” book by John Lott (1998) and ending with a 2018 study that incorporated recent mass shooting statistics from the past decade. After going through many of these studies, I have found that there is great disagreement among economists about the effect of various gun laws on crime rates, with some finding that legal gun ownership deters criminals from committing most types of crime and others finding that a higher prevalence of guns generally increases violent crime, two very contradictory conclusions. 

To narrow down the scope of my project, I have decided to focus only on studies that evaluate the effect of right-to-carry, shall-issue, and concealed handgun permit laws on crime and death rates in the United States. For the next stage of my research, I will compile my relevant notes on the studies and begin to compare them. I will consider the researchers’ methods of data collection (most of the studies use released state and county-level crime data from the FBI and the Department of Justice), the variables that the researchers emphasize, their assumptions (bounded vs. invariance assumptions), the statistical methods that they use, and the conclusions that they reach (i.e. the effect of the particular gun law on crime and death rates). Hopefully this next stage of research will bring me some clarity on why there is a lack of consensus among economists and statistical researchers on the overall impacts of gun ownership on American society.