More guns, less crime

Fellows, Jeffrey jmf9 at
Fri Apr 23 13:35:07 PDT 1999

The more guns, less crime hypothesis assumes all the wonderful market clearing neoclassical assumptions heterodox economists, which enables the generation of elasticities of substitution between public crime prevention and private crime prevention (or consumption). I saw one analysis that actually posited a natural rate of crime!! One crucial assumption that the Chicago song and dance depends upon but does not even seem to realize is that the suppliers of crime must essentially be external to the victim (in terms of relationships). This may work for most, not all, nonviolent property crimes, but it fails for most violent crimes. Bars on windows and security alarms don't protect women and children from abusive family, friends, and aquaintences. Having a weapon in the home has also been shown to significantly increase the risks for intentional and unintentional injury and death. The risks for unintentional injury are also significant for individuals trained in gun safety. See the references below. There is also evidence (I couldn't locate the paper, and our authority is busy dealing the Colorado incident) that the best protection against intruders is not to weild a weapon, but to accede to the wishes of the intruder (unless of course they are violent). Once attacked, physical resistance looks to be protective of further injury.

************************* "Gun ownership as a risk factor for homicide in the home," Kellerman, et al. New England journal of Medicine, 1993.

->multivariate analysis indicates keeping a gun in the home 2.7 times higher risk for homicide than for persons without a gun in the home (controlled for demo, geo, and income variables). "Virtually all of this risk involved homicide by a family member or intimate acquaintance [not sure what an intimate acquaintance is].

********************* "Suicide in the home in relation to gun ownership" Kellerman, et al. NEJM, 1992 ->Interviews of 442 proxies (usually family member) for suicide completers in two Texas counties (80% of all suicides). Statistical analysis of responses (matched pair analysis) indicate that after controlling for a variety of charateristics, the presence of a weapon in the home was associated with a 4.8 times higher risk for suicide. ************************** "Unintentional, nonfatal firearm-related injuries: a preventable public health burden." Sinaurer et al. JAMA 1996 ->NEISS (hospital) data indicate that of 34,485 (6.7/100,000 pop) persons from June 1, 1992 through May 31, 1994 were treated for firearm-related injuries. "Injuries were most often to an extremity (73%), were self-inflicted (70%), involved a handgun (57%) and resulted during common gun-related activities." *********************** "Latchkey children and guns at home." Lee, et al. JAMA, 1990

->interviews of texas households indicate 55% owned firearms, 54% of HHolds with children reported owning at least one firearm (70% of these have more than one and 66% had a handgun). 15% of HHolds with guns and elementary school-age children had unsupervised children home after elementary school dismissal. Firearm ownership in Texas is 10% higher than the national average. If the other rates hold for the US as a whole, there may be about 1.2 million unsupervised children at home with a firearm present. **************************** Authors

Christoffel KK. Naureckas SM. Institution

Children's Memorial Hospital, Chicago, Illinois. Title

Firearm injuries in children and adolescents: epidemiology

and preventive approaches. [Review] [20 refs] Source

Current Opinion in Pediatrics. 6(5):519-24, 1994 Oct. Abstract

Firearm injury, now a leading cause of death in childhood and adolescence, had jointed

the ranks of pediatric conditions that threaten child health and development. This paper

reviews articles on epidemiology (of firearm injuries and the firearms themselves) and

prevention. Epidemiology of injuries: 5356 Americans under 20 years of age died of

firearm injuries in 1991; most of these were homicides, and most involved 15 to 19 years

olds. The same year, firearm deaths exceeded motor vehicle deaths in seven states and the

District of Columbia. Case-control studies showed that handguns in the home raised the

risk of homicide threefold, and that handguns raised the risk of suicide ninefold; for

suicide, the risk was greatest (13-fold) in those without psychiatric problems. In Iowa,

handguns were used disproportionately often in suicides (as compared with other

firearms). Hospitalized pediatric shooting victims often had social as well as medical

problems. Epidemiology of firearms: gun ownership was higher among incarcerated

youths than in community controls (83% vs 22%), but the patterns of gun acquisition were

similar: mainly handguns for self-protection, most often from a friend or family member, or

"off the street," cost under $100 per gun. Among 5000 families attending pediatric offices,

32% owned handguns or rifles; 13% of handguns and 1% of rifles were stored unlocked

and loaded. In a school survey, three-fourths of first and second graders who knew there

was a gun at home knew where it was. Gun sales are very loosely under the jurisdiction of

the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms; no regulations affect gun design, and

oversight of commerce is extremely lax.(ABSTRACT TRUNCATED AT 250 WORDS)

[References: 20] ******************************************************************** Authors

Callahan CM. Rivara FP. Farrow JA. Title

Youth in detention and handguns. Source

Journal of Adolescent Health. 14(5):350-5, 1993 Jul. Abstract

The objective of this work was to describe the frequency and correlates of handgun

ownership and firearm injury experiences among youth in a detention facility. A

convenience sample of 89 males detained in the King County Youth Services Center, a

short-term holding facility, voluntarily completed an anonymous survey. Results showed

that 59% of the youth reported owning a handgun. Firearm experiences included carrying a

gun to school (46%); firing at another person (68% of handgun owners); firearm injury to

self (27%); death of a close friend or family member to firearm homicide or suicide

(35%). Personal safety far exceeded recreational use of guns as motivation for self-arming

(52% versus 4%). Handgun ownership was more common among youth who reported

problem behaviors. Adjusting for age and controlling for covariation of the problem

behaviors, gang membership [odds ratio (OR) 6.7; 95% confidence interval (CI) 1.7-26.1],

committing assault and battery (OR 7.7; 95% CI 2.2-26.8) and selling drugs (OR 3.6; 95%

CI 0.99-13.4) were associated with handgun ownership. Our conclusion was that firearm

experiences for youth in detention pose health risks equal to or far exceeding other

high-risk behaviors in this population.

******************************************* Authors

Goldberg BW. von Borstel ER. Dennis LK. Wall E. Title

Firearm injury risk among

primary care patients [published erratum appears in J Fam Pract 1996

Jul;43(1):15]. Source

Journal of Family Practice. 41(2):158-62, 1995 Aug. Abstract

BACKGROUND. Firearm injuries are the eighth leading cause of death in the United

States. Evidence suggests that availability of guns in the home is associated with an

increased risk of homicide, suicide, and unintentional injuries and fatalities. Our study

examined five demographically diverse primary care practices in Oregon to determine the

extent to which patients and members of their households might be at risk for firearm

injuries. METHODS. Six hundred and four consecutive English-speaking patients who

were at least 18 years old and seeking care at the five different practices were surveyed.

Participants were asked about the presence of firearms in the home, methods of storage,

history of firearm safety training, and history of firearm counseling by their physicians.

RESULTS. Forty-two percent of respondents reported having at least one firearm in the

home. In homes with firearms, 48% contained at least one firearm that was stored

unlocked, and 26% contained at least one firearm stored loaded. Twenty percent of homes

with children contained at least one unlocked firearm, and 10% contained a loaded

firearm. Forty-five percent [corrected] of those homes with both children and firearms

had at least one gun that was stored unlocked, and 25% [corrected] contained at least one

loaded firearm. Those who reported having had formal firearm safety training were no

more likely to store their firearms safely than those without such training. Only 3% of

respondents reported that their physician had ever talked with them about gun safety.

CONCLUSIONS. Our data indicate that a substantial number of patients cared for by

primary care physicians are at risk for firearm injuries.

More information about the lbo-talk mailing list