The Futility of Gun Control as Crime Control

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  1. 1.

    S. Costanza, J. Kilburn, B. Miles, “The spatial dynamics of legal handgun concealment,” Crime Mapping: A Journal of Research and Practice 5, no. 1 (2014): 39-62.

  2. 2.

    The last FBI count was 72.6 percent. Federal Bureau of Investigation, Crime in the United States 2017, table 20.

  3. 3.

    U.K. Office for National Statistics, appendix, table 7, (2017 data). Statistics Canada, (2017 data).

  4. 4.

    Pew Research Center, “America’s Complex Relationship With Guns” (June 2017), 4. The Pew result derived from a public opinion survey of 2017. A 2013 survey by the Economist and found 29 percent ownership,

  5. 5.

    Bindu Kalesan, Marcos D Villarreal, Katherine M Keyes, and Sandro Galea Kaleson, “Gun Ownership and Social Gun Culture,” Injury Prevention 22, no 3 (2016), 216-220.

  6. 6.

    Pew Research Center, America’s Complex Relationship, 6.

  7. 7.

    IOM (Institute of Medicine) and NRC (National Research Council), “Priorities for research to reduce the threat of firearm-related violence,” Washington, DC: The National Academies Press, 2013,

  8. 8.

    Half of all armed robberies known to police occurred in cities with populations over 250,000. FBI, Crime in the United States 2017, table 15.

  9. 9.

    Gary Kleck found that that simple cross-state migration of American gun owners is easily sufficient to account for all of the interstate movement of guns, (2018),

  10. 10.

    Of 56,805 gun incidents recorded by the Gun Violence Archive in 2018, only 2,402 or 4.2 percent, by my calculation, were reported stolen, This isn’t to suggest, of course, that they were lawfully possessed by the shooter, since permits for carrying concealed weapons are required in roughly three-quarters of the states.

  11. 11.

    Australia adopted wide-ranging firearm regulations in 1996, including a gun buyback scheme. A careful analysis found that the legislation had no statistically observable impact on suicide or assault mortality attributable to firearms. Stuart Gilmour, Kittima Wattanakamolkul, and Maaya Kita Sugai, “The Effect of the Australian National Firearms Agreement on Suicide and Homicide Mortality, 1978-2015,” American Journal of Public Health 108, no. 11 (2018): 1511-1516.

  12. 12.

    Kate Taylor, “Stop-and-Frisk Policy ‘Saves Lives,’ Mayor Tells Black Congregation,” New York Times, June 10, 2012.

  13. 13.

    According to NYPD records, from 2003 to 2013, police seized 7,672 guns in 4,984,393 stops, an average of 698 per year. Once the crack cocaine boom ended, around 1994, crime started falling, so that by 2002 there were 587 murders in New York City, a decline of 74 percent from the shocking death toll of 2,245 in 1990. But this decline occurred before the implementation of aggressive stop and frisk in 2003. In 2003-2007, when the stop-and-frisk policy became really aggressive, murder rates fell a much more modest 17 percent.

  14. 14.

    A lower federal court declared the policy unconstitutional as applied. Floyd v. City of New York, 959 F. Supp. 2d 540 (S.D.N.Y. 2013). But given the opposition of Bloomberg’s successor, Bill de Blasio, aggressive stop and frisk would have been halted anyway.

  15. 15.

    U.S. Bureau of Justice Statistics, Victimizations Not Reported to the Police, 2006-2010 (2012), estimates that 52 percent of violent crimes were unreported in the years analyzed.

  16. 16.

    29.7 percent of robberies were cleared by arrest in 2017. FBI, Crime in the United States 2017, table 25.

  17. 17.

    U.S. Bureau of Justice Statistics, Felony Sentences in State Courts, 2006 – Statistical Tables (2009), table 1.2.

  18. 18.

    FBI, Crime in the United States 2017, expanded homicide data table 10.

  19. 19.

    Gun Violence Archive,

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Corresponding author

Correspondence to Barry Latzer.

Additional information

Barry Latzer is Professor Emeritus of Criminal Justice, John Jay College of Criminal Justice, CUNY; Prof. Latzer is author of The Rise and Fall of Violent Crime in America (Encounter Books, 2016) and he is working on a new book entitled The Myth of Overpunishment. Prof. Latzer’s article “Race, Crime, and Culture” appeared in the fall 2018 issue of Academic Questions.

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Latzer, B. The Futility of Gun Control as Crime Control. Acad. Quest. 32, 288–292 (2019).

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