More Guns, Less Crime

More Guns, Less Crime
More Guns, Less Crime  
Author(s) John Lott
Country United States
Language English
Subject(s) Gun Control
Genre(s) Non-fiction
Publisher University Of Chicago Press
Publication date June 1, 1998 (1st ed.)
Media type Hardback
Pages 236 pp
ISBN 0226493636
OCLC Number 38067725
Dewey Decimal 344.73/0533 21
LC Classification KF3941 .L68 1998
Preceded by Straight Shooting
Followed by The Bias Against Guns

More Guns, Less Crime is a book by John Lott that says violent crime rates go down when states pass "shall issue" concealed carry laws. He presents the results of his statistical analysis of crime data for every county in the United States during 18 years from 1977 to 1994. The book expands on an earlier study published in 1997 by Lott and his co-author David Mustard in The Journal of Legal Studies.[1] Lott also examines the effects of gun control laws, including the Brady Law.


Main topics

Below are summaries of the main topics discussed in More Guns, Less Crime.

Shall issue laws

Lott examines the effects of shall issue laws on violent crime across the United States.

His conclusion is that shall issue laws, which allow citizens to carry concealed weapons, steadily decrease violent crime. He explains that this result makes sense because criminals are deterred by the risk of attacking an armed victim. As more citizens arm themselves, the danger to criminals increases.

Training requirements

Lott examines the effects of training requirements on crime rate and accident rate. He finds that training requirements have very little effect on both crime rates and accident rates.

Waiting periods

Lott examines the effects of waiting periods. These include limiting the time before purchasing a gun, and limiting the time before obtaining a concealed carry permit.

Brady Law

Lott examines the effects of the Brady law.

Other countries

Lott spends some time discussing gun ownership rates and crime rates in other countries, such as the United Kingdom.



A conference organized at the American Enterprise Institute by John Lott resulted in a special issue[2] of The Journal of Law and Economics. A number of papers from that conference supported Lott's conclusions:

  • Bruce L. Benson, Florida State University, and Brent D. Mast, American Enterprise Institute, 'Privately Produced General Deterrence', The Journal of Law and Economics, October 2001[3]
  • Florenz Plassmann, State University of New York at Binghamton, and T. Nicolaus Tideman, Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, "Does the right to carry concealed handguns deter countable crimes? Only a count analysis can say", The Journal of Law and Economics, October 2001[4]
  • Carlisle E. Moody, College of William and Mary, "Testing for the effects of concealed weapons laws: Specification errors and robustness," The Journal of Law and Economics, October 2001[5]

Other academic studies that have supported Lott's conclusions include the following.

  • William Alan Bartley and Mark A. Cohen, Vanderbilt University, 'The Effect of Concealed Weapons Laws: An Extreme Bound Analysis', Economic Inquiry, 1998[6]
  • Florenz Plassmann, State University of New York at Binghamton, and John Whitley, University of Adelaide, 'Confirming "More Guns, Less Crime"', Stanford Law Review, 2003.[7]
  • Eric Helland, Claremont-McKenna College and Alexander Tabarrok, George Mason University, "Using Placebo Laws to Test 'More Guns, Less Crime'," The B.E. Journal of Economic Analysis & Policy, 2008.[8]
  • Carlisle E. Moody, College of William and Mary, and Thomas B. Marvell, Justec Research, 'The Debate on Shall-Issue Laws', Econ Journal Watch, 2008.[9]

The book The Samurai, the Mountie, and the Cowboy: Should America Adopt the Gun Controls of Other Democracies, examines the gun control policies of many nations around the world and supports the ideas presented in Lott's work.

Studies Against

Academic studies that have rejected Lott's conclusions include the following. With the exception of the 2003 study by John J. Donohue, these studies generally contend that there seems to be little or no effect on crime from the passage of license-to-carry laws. Donohue's 2003 study finds an increase in violence.

  • Albert Alschuler, Two Guns, Four Guns, Six Guns, More Guns: Does Arming the Public Reduce Crime? Valparaiso U Law Rev. Spring 1997. Alschuler notes that while PPBM2029 (as perpetrators of crime) and PPBF64+ (as victims) are strongly correlated to high homicide rates in the dataset used by Lott & Mustard 1997, PPBF4049 is rated more highly as a predictor of homicide rate. Alschuler notes that Lott supplied him with his copy of Ludwig's 1996 paper as well as the Lott & Mustard data.
  • Franklin Zimring and Gordon Hawkins, Concealed Handguns: The Counterfeit Deterrent, 7 The Responsive Community 2 (Spring 1997). Zimring & Hawkins cite recognition of the legitimacy of defensive gun use as an impediment to the socially desirable goal of eliminating private ownership of handguns and set out to criticise Lott & Mustard.
Both Albert Alschuler and Jens Ludwig note a number of problems in their separate papers. Why, for example, should the concentration of older black women in a population predict higher crime rates in the Lott and Mustard model, but not the increased concentration of young men, age 20 to 29, who are vastly more likely to commit such offenses?
Lott finds, for example, that both increasing the rate of unemployment and reducing income reduces the rate of violent crimes and that reducing the number of black women 40 years old or older (who are rarely either perpetrators or victims of murder) substantially reduces murder rates. Indeed, according to Lott's results, getting rid of older black women will lead to a more dramatic reduction in homicide rates than increasing arrest rates or enacting shall-issue laws
  • Rutgers sociology professor Ted Goertzel stated that "Lott’s massive data set was simply unsuitable for his task", and that he "compar[ed] trends in Idaho and West Virginia and Mississippi with trends in Washington, D.C. and New York City" without proper statistical controls. He alleged that econometric methods (such as the Lott & Mustard RTC study or the Levitt & Donohue abortion study) are susceptible to misuse and can even become junk science.[11]
  • Ian Ayres, Yale Law School, and John Donohue, Stanford Law School, 'Shooting Down the More Guns, Less Crime Hypothesis'. Stanford Law Review, 2003.[12]
  • Dan Black and Daniel Nagin, "Do 'Right-to-Carry' Laws Deter Violent Crime?" Journal of Legal Studies, Vol. 27, No. 1, pp. 209–213 (January 1998).
  • Steven Levitt, University of Chicago, 'Understanding Why Crime Fell in the 1990s: Four Factors that Explain the Decline and Six that Do Not'. Journal of Economic Perspectives, 2004.[15] Levitt lists 'Laws allowing a right to carry concealed weapons' as number five in his list of 'Six Factors that Played Little or No Role in the Crime Decline'.
  • Tomislav V. Kovandzic and Thomas B. Marvell, "Right-To-Carry Concealed Firearms and Violent Crime: Crime Control Through Gun Decontrol?" Criminology and Public Policy 2, (2003) pages 363-396.
  • John J. Donahue III, Stanford Law School, 'The Final Bullet in the Body of the More Guns, Less Crime Hypothesis', Criminology and Public Policy, 2003.[17]
  • John Donohue and Ian Ayres. "More Guns, Less Crime Fails Again: The Latest Evidence from 1977–2006" Econ Journal Watch 6.2 (2009): 218-238.[18]

Ambiguous results

Academic studies that have both agreed and disagreed with aspects of Lott's conclusions include the following.

  • David E. Olson, Loyola University Chicago, and Michael D. Maltz, University of Illinois at Chicago, "Right-to-carry concealed weapons laws and homicide in large U.S. counties: the effect on weapon types, victim characteristics, and victim-offender relationships," The Journal of Law and Economics, October 2001.[19]


There have been three editions of More Guns, Less Crime: Understanding Crime and Gun Control Laws, all published by University of Chicago Press,

See also

  • Freedomnomics - Lott's most recent book, focusing on the free market.
  • The Bias Against Guns - A related book by John Lott, suggesting that psychological bias prevents some from accepting the results of his study.
  • Gun Politics
  • Carrying concealed weapons


  1. ^ John R. Lott and David B. Mustard, 'Crime, Deterrence, and Right-to-Carry Concealed Handguns'. The Journal of Legal Studies, 26 (1997), pages 1-68.
  2. ^ The Journal of Law and Economics, Supplement, October 2001.
  3. ^ Journal of Law and Economics, October 2001, pages 725-746
  4. ^ Journal of Law and Economics, October 2001, pages 771-798
  5. ^ Journal of Law and Economics, October 2001, pages 799-813
  6. ^ EconPapers: The Effect of Concealed Weapons Laws: An Extreme Bound Analysis
  7. ^ Stanford Law Review 55 (4), pages 1313-1369
  8. ^ "Using Placebo Laws to test "More Guns, Less Crime"". Berkeley Electronic Press. 2004-01-10. Retrieved 2008-03-22. 
  9. ^ Econ Journal Watch 5 (3), pages 269-293
  10. ^ Hemenway, David (December 31 1998). "Review of More Guns, Less Crime: Understanding Crime and Gun-Control Laws" (– Scholar search). The New England Journal of Medicine 339 (27): 2029. doi:10.1056/NEJM199812313392719. [dead link]
  11. ^ Econometric Modeling as Junk Science
  12. ^ Stanford Law Review 55 (4), pages 1193-1312.
  13. ^ International Review of Law and Economics, Vol. 18, No. 3, pp. 239 - 254 (September 1998)
  14. ^ Journal of Political Economy, Vol. 109, No. 5.
  15. ^ Journal of Economic Perspectives 18:1, 163-190
  16. ^ The Journal of Law and Economics, October 2001, pages 615-634
  17. ^ Criminology and Public Policy 2 (3), pages 397-410.
  18. ^ Econ Journal Watch 6.2 (2009): 218-238.
  19. ^ Journal of Law and Economics, October 2001, pages 747-770

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