What effects do gun control restrictions and gun prevalence have on rates of violence and crime? Data were gathered for all 170 U.S. cities with a 1980 population of at least 100,000. The cities were coded for the presence of 19 major categories of firearms restriction, including both state- and city-level restrictions. Multiple indirect indicators of gun prevalence levels were measured and models of city violence rates were estimated using two-stage least-squares methods. The models covered all major categories of intentional violence and crime which frequently involve guns: homicide, suicide, fatal gun accidents, robbery, and aggravated assaults, as well as rape. Findings indicate that (1) gun prevalence levels generally have no net positive effect on total violence rates, (2) homicide, gun assault, and rape rates increase gun prevalence, (3) gun control restrictions have no net effect on gun prevalence levels, and (4) most gun control restrictions generally have no net effect on violence rates. There were, however, some possible exceptions to this last conclusion—of 108 assessments of effects of different gun laws on different types of violence, 7 indicated good support, and another 11 partial support, for the hypothesis of gun control efficacy.
This is a preview of subscription content, log in to check access.
Buy single article
Instant access to the full article PDF.
Price includes VAT for USA
Subscribe to journal
Immediate online access to all issues from 2019. Subscription will auto renew annually.
This is the net price. Taxes to be calculated in checkout.
Audit Bureau of Circulations (1979–1982).Supplementary Data Report, covering county paid circulation figures for gun/hunting/outdoor magazines, ABC, Chicago.
Beha, J. (1977). Andnobody can get you out.Boston Univ. Law Rev. 57: 96–146, 289–333.
Bendis, P., and Balkin, S. (1979). A look at gun control enforcement.J. Police Sci. Admin. 7: 439–448.
Berkowitz, L., and LePage, A. (1967). Weapons as aggression-eliciting stimuli.J. Personal. Soc. Psychol. 7: 202–207.
Blackman, P. (1985). Carrying handgunus for personal protection. Paper presented at the annual meeting of the American Society of Criminology, San Diego, CA, Nov. 13–16.
Block, R. (1977).Violent Crime, Lexington Books, Lexington, MA.
Blose, J., and Cook, P. J. (1980).Regulating Handgun Transfers, Duke University, Institute of Policy Sciences and Public Affairs, Durham, NC.
Bordua, D. J. (1986). Firearms ownership and violent crime: A comparison of Illinois counties. In Byrne, J. M., and Sampson, R. J. (eds.),The Social Ecology of Crime, Springer-Verlag, New York, pp. 156–188.
Bordua, D. J., and Lizotte, A. J. (1979). Patterns of legal firearms ownership.Law Policy Q. 1: 147–175.
Bordua, D. J., Lizotte, A. J., and Kleck, G. (1979).Patterns of Firearms Ownership and Regulation in Illinois, A Report to the Illinois Law Enforcement Commission, Illinois Law Enforcement Commission, Springfield.
Brearley, H. C. (1932).Homicide in the United States, University of North Carolina Press, Chapel Hill.
Brill, S. (1977).Firearm Abuse, Police Foundation, Washington, DC.
Byrne, J. M. (1986). Cities, citizens, and crime. In Byrne, J. M., and Sampson, R. J. (eds.),The Social Ecology of Crime, Springer-Verlag, New York, pp. 77–101.
Cook, P. J. (1976). A strategic choice analysis of robbery. In Skogan, W. (ed.),Sample Surveys of the Victims of Crime, Ballinger, Cambridge, MA, pp. 173–187.
Cook, P. J. (1979). The effect of gun availability on robbery and robbery murder. Haveman, R., and Zellner, B. B. (eds.),Policy Studies Review Annual., Sage, Beverly Hills, pp. 743–781.
Cook, P. J. (1982). The role of firearms in violent crime. In Wolfgang, M. E., and Werner, N. A. (eds.),Criminal Violence, Sage, Beverly Hills, pp. 236–291.
Cook, P. J., and Blose, J. (1981). State programs for screening handgun buyers.Annals 455: 80–91.
Curtis, L. (1974).Criminal Violence, Lexington Books, Lexington, MA.
Deutsch, S. J., and Alt, F. B. (1977). The effect of Massachusetts' gun control law on gun-related crimes in the city of Boston.Evaluat. Q. 1: 543–568.
DeZee, M. R. (1983). Gun control legislation: Impact and ideology.Law Policy Q. 5: 367–379.
Eskridge, C. W. (1986). Zero-order inverse correlations between crimes of violence and hunting licenses in the United states.Sociol. Soc. Res. 71: 55–57.
Firebaugh, G., and Gibbs, J. P. (1985). User's guide to ratio variables.Am. Sociol. Rev. 50: 713–722.
Gastil, R. D. (1971). Homicide and a regional culture of violence.Am. Sociol. Rev. 36: 412–427.
Geisel, M. S., Roll, R., and Wettick, R. S. (1969). The effectiveness of state and local regulations of handguns.Duke Univ. Law J. 4: 647–676.
Gibbs, J. P., and Erickson, M. L. (1976). Crime rates of American cities in an ecological context.Am. J. Sociol. 82: 605–620.
Hay, R., and McCleary, R. (1979). Box-Tiao time series models for impact assessment.Evaluat. Q. 3: 277–314.
Inter-university Consortium for Political and Social Research (ICPSR) 1983.Uniform Crime Reports: National Time Series Community-level Database, 1967–1980, ICPSR Study 8214 (machine readable dataset), Principal Investigators: Pierce, G. L., Bowers, W. J., Baird, J., and Heck, J. ICPSR, Ann Arbor, MI.
ICPSR (1984a).Uniform Crime Reporting Program Data, ICPSR Study 9028, Parts 3, 7, 11, 15, Supplementary Homicide Reports, 1979–1982, Federal Bureau of Investigation, ICPSR, Ann Arbor, MI.
ICPSR (1984b).Uniform Crime Reporting Program Data, ICPSR Study 9028, Parts 2, 6, 14, Property Stolen and Recovered, 1979–1981, Federal Bureau of Investigation, ICPSR, Ann Arbor, MI.
Jones, E. D., III (1981). The District of Columbia's “Firearms Control Regulations Act of 1975”,Annals 455: 138–149.
Jones, E. D., and Ray, M. W. (1980).Handgun Control: Strategies, Enforcement and Effectiveness, Unpublished report, U.S. Department of Justice, Washington, D.C.
Jung, R. S., and Jason, L. A. (1988). Firearm violence and the effects of gun control legislation.Am. J. Commun. Psychol. 16: 515–524.
Kennedy, P. (1985).A Guide to Econometrics, Basil Blackwell, London.
Kleck, G. (1979). Capital punishment, gun ownership, and homicide.Am. J. Sociol. 84: 882–910.
Kleck, G. (1984a). The relationship between gun ownership levels and rates of violence in the United States. In Kates, D. B., Jr. (ed.),Firearms and Violence: Issues of Public Policy, Ballinger, Cambridge, MA., pp. 99–135.
Kleck, G. (1984b). Handgun-only gun control. In Kates, D. B., Jr. (ed.),Firearms and Violence: Issues of Public Policy, Cambridge, Ballinger, MA, pp. 167–199.
Kleck, G. (1988). Crime control through the private use of armed force.Soc. Problems 35: 1–21.
Kleck, G. (1991).Point Blank: Guns and Violence in America, Aldine de Gruyter, New York.
Kleck, G., and McElrath, K. (1991). The effects of weaponry on human violence. Soc.Forces 69: 669–692.
Kleck, G., and DeLone, M. (1993). Victim resistance and offender weapon effects in robbery.J. Quant. Criminol. 9: 55–81.
Krug, A. S. (1967). A statistical study of the relationship between firearms licensing laws and crime rates.Congress. Record 7-25-67, pp. H9366–H9370.
Land, K. C. (1990). Structural covariates of homicide rates.Am. J. Sociol. 95: 922–963.
Lester, D. (1987). An availability-acceptability theory of suicide.Act. Nervosa Super. 29: 164–166.
Lester, D. (1988). Gun control, gun ownership, and suicide prevention.Suicide Life-threat. Behav. 18: 176–180.
Lester, D., and Murrell, M. E. (1981). The relationship between gun control statutes and homicide rates: A research note.Crime Just. 4: 146–148.
Lester, D., and Murrell, M. E. (1982). The preventive effect of strict gun control laws on suicide and homicide.Suicide Life-Threat. Behavior. 12: 131–140.
Lester, D., and Murrell, M. E. (1986). The influence of gun control laws on personal violence.J. Commun. Psychol. 14: 315–318.
Lizotte, A. J., Bordua, D. J., and White, C. S. (1981). Firearms ownership for sport and protection: Two not so divergent models.Am. Sociol. Rev. 46: 499–503.
Loftin, C., Heumann, M., and McDowall, D. (1983). Mandatory sentencing and firearms violence: Evaluating an alternative to gun control.Law Soc. Rev. 17: 287–318.
Loftin, C., and McDowall, D. (1981). “One with a gun gets you two”: Mandatory sentencing and firearms violence in Detroit.Annals 455: 150–167.
Loftin, C., and McDowall, D. (1984). The deterrent effects of the Florida Felony Firearm Law.J. Crim. Law Criminol. 75: 250–259.
Loftin, C., McDowall, D., Wiersema, B., and Cottey, J. (1991). Effects of restrictive licensing of handguns on homicide and suicide in the District of Columbia.N. Engl. J. Med. 325: 1615–1621.
Maddala, G. S. (1988).Introduction to Econometrics, Macmillan, New York.
Magaddino, J. P., and Medoff, M. H. (1982). Homicides, robberies and state “cooling-off” schemes. In Kates, D. B., Jr. (ed.),Why Handgun Bans Can't Work, Second Amendment Foundation, Bellevue, WA.
Magaddino, J. P., and Medoff, M. H. (1984). An empirical analysis of federal and state firearm controls. In Kates, D. B., Jr. (ed.),Firearms and Violence, Ballinger, Cambridge, MA.
McDowall, D. (1986). Gun availability and robbery rates: A panel study of large U.S. cities, 1974–1978.Law & Policy 8: 135–148.
McPheters, L. R., Mann, RT., and Schlagenhauf, D. (1984). Economic response to a crime deterrence program.Econ. Inquiry 22: 550–570.
Murray, D. R. (1975). Handguns, gun control laws and firearm violence.Soc. Problems 23: 81–92.
Newton, G. D., and Zimring, F. E. (1969).Firearms and Violence in American Life: A Staff Report to the National Commission on the Causes and Prevention of Violence, U.S. Government Printing Office, Washington, DC.
Nicholson, R., and Garner, A. (1980).The Analysis of the Firearms Control Act of 1975, U.S. Conference of Mayors, Washington, D.C.
Olin Mathieson Company (1969). Unpublished study summarized by Newton and Zimring (1969, p. 182).
Pierce, G. L., and Bowers, W. J. (1981). The Bartley-Fox gun law's short-term impact on crime in Boston.Annals 455: 120–137.
Quinn, B.,et al. (1982).Churches and Church Membership in the United States, 1980, Glenmary Research Center, Atlanta, GA.
Ronhovde, K. M., and Sugars, G. P. (1982). Survey of select state firearm control laws. In Congressional Research Service,Federal Regulation of Firearms, a report prepared for the Senate Judiciary Committee, pp. 201–228.
Sampson, R. J. (1986). Crime in cities. In Reiss, A. J., Jr., and Tonry, M. (eds.),Communities and Crime, University of Chicago Press, Chicago, pp. 271–311.
Scammon, R. M. (ed.) (1972).America Votes, Vol. 10, Macmillan, New York.
Seitz, S. T. (1972). Firearms, homicides, and gun control effectiveness.Law Soc. Rev. 6: 595–614.
Shields, D. J. (1976). Two judges look at gun control.Chicago Bar Record 1976: 180–185.
Smith, D. A., and Uchida, C. D. (1988). The social organization of self-help.Am. Sociol. Rev. 3: 94–102.
Sommers, P. M. (1980). Deterrence and gun control: An empirical analysis.Atlantic Econ. J. 8: 89–94.
Sommers, P. M. (1984). Letter to the Editor.N. Engl. J. Med. 310: 47–48.
U.S. Bureau of Alcohol Tobacco and Firearms (BATF) (1980).State Laws and Published Ordinances, Firearms-1980, U.S. Government Printing Office, Washington, DC.
U.S. Bureau of the Census (1981).1977 Census of Service Industries—Geographic Area Series—United States, U.S. Government Printing Office, Washington, DC.
U.S. Bureau of the Census (1983a).County and City Data Book 1983, U.S. Government Printing Office, Washington, DC.
U.S. Bureau of the Census (1983b).1980 Census of the Population, Vol. 1. Characteristics of the Population, Chapter C, General Social and Economic Characteristics, Table 118, U.S. Government Printing Office, Washington, DC.
U.S. Bureau of the Census (1986).Statistical Abstract of the United States, 1987, U.S. Government Printing Office, Washington, DC.
U.S. Bureau of Justice Statistics (1982).Prisoners in State and Federal Institutions on December 31, 1980, U.S. Government Printing Office, Washington, DC.
U.S. Bureau of Justice Statistics (1987).Criminal Victimization in the United States, 1985, U.S. Government Printing Office, Washington, DC.
U.S. Department of Justice (1989). Draft report on systems for identifying felons who attempt to purchase firearms; Notice and request for comments.Fed. Register June 26: 26901–26941.
U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation (1980–1982).Crime in the United States, annual issues covering 1979–1981, U.S. Government Printing Office, Washington, DC.
U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation (1984).Uniform Crime Reporting Handbook, U.S. Government Printing Office, Washington, D.C.
U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation (undated).AS&R Data by State and County (year), covering each of years 1979–1981, Computer printout supplied by FBI to senior author, reporting arrests for individual reporting police agencies.
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (1980).Federal Aid in Fish and Wildlife Restoration, 1980, U.S. Government Printing Office, Washington, DC.
U.S. National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS) (1983).Public Use Data Tape Documentation: Mortality Detail 1980 Data, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Hyattsville, MD.
Wisconsin (1960).The Regulation of the Firearms by the States, Research Bulletin 130, Wisconsin Legislative Reference Library, Wisconsin.
Wright, J. D., and Rossi, P. H. (1986).Armed and Considered Dangerous, Aldine, New York.
Wright, J. D., Rossi, P. H., and Daly, K. (1983).Under the Gun: Weapons, Crime and Violence, Aldine, New York.
Zimring, F. E. (1975). Firearms and federal law: The Gun Control Act of 1968.J. Legal Stud. 4: 133–198.
About this article
Cite this article
Kleck, G., Patterson, E.B. The impact of gun control and gun ownership levels on violence rates. J Quant Criminol 9, 249–287 (1993). https://doi.org/10.1007/BF01064462
- gun control