Murder and homicide rates before and after gun bans

1 Dec , 2013  

UPDATE: An interview that John Lott had on this post on Cam & Company is available here  (SiriusXM Channel 125).

Original post: Every place that has been banned guns has seen murder rates go up. You cannot point to one place where murder rates have fallen, whether it’s Chicago or D.C. or even island nations such as England, Jamaica, or Ireland.

For an example of homicide rates before and after a ban, take the case of the handgun ban in England and Wales in January 1997 (source here see Table 1.01 and the column marked “Offences currently recorded as homicide per million population”).  After the ban, clearly homicide rates bounce around over time, but there is only one year (2010) where the homicide rate is lower than it was in 1996.  The immediate effect was about a 50 percent increase in homicide rates.   The homicide rate only began falling when there was a large increase in the number of police officers during 2003 and 2004.   Despite the huge increase in the number of police, the murder rate still remained slightly higher than the immediate pre-ban rate.

 

There are a lot of issues about how different countries measure homicide or murders differently, but that isn’t really relevant for the discussion here as we are talking about changes over time within a country.

Other information for Ireland and Jamaica.

Ireland & Jamaica 2

Jamaica’s crime data were obtained from a variety of sources. Its murder data from 1960 to 1967 were obtained from Terry Lacey, Violence and Politics in Jamaica, 1960–70 (Manchester: Manchester University Press, 1977). Professor Gary Mauser obtained the data from 1970 to 2000 from a Professor A. Francis in Jamaica and the data from 2001 to 2006 from the Statistical Institute of Jamaica (http://www.statinja.com/stats.html). Jamaica’s population estimates were obtained from NationMaster.com (http://www.nationmaster.com/graph/ peo_pop-people-population&date=1975).

How about for DC and Chicago (Figures taken from More Guns, Less Crime)?

The raw data for DC over a long period of time is available here (the crime rates are available on the bottom half of the screen).

Now Australia didn’t have a complete ban on guns, they didn’t even ban all semi-automatic guns, but a discussion on the changes in their crime rates from their gun buyback is available here (see also here).

Much of the debate over gun control focuses on what is called “cross-sectional” data.  That is crime rates are examined at one particular point of time across different places.  Here are two paragraphs from John Lott’s The Bias Against Guns that explain the basic problem with cross-sectional analysis.

First, the cross-sectional studies: Suppose for the sake of argument that high-crime countries are the ones that most frequently adopt the most stringent gun control laws. Suppose further, for the sake of argument, that gun control indeed lowers crime, but not by enough to reduce rates to the same low levels prevailing in the majority of countries that did not adopt the laws. Looking across countries, it would then falsely appear that stricter gun control resulted in higher crime. Economists refer to this as an “endogeniety” problem. The adoption of the policy is a reaction to other events (that is, “endogenous”), in this case crime. To resolve this, one must examine how the high-crime areas that chose to adopt the controls changed over time —not only relative to their own past levels but also relative to areas that did not institute such controls.

Unfortunately, many contemporary discussions rely on misinterpretations of cross-sectional data. The New York Times recently conducted a cross-sectional study of murder rates in states with and without the death penalty, and found that “Indeed, 10 of the 12 states without capital punishment have homicide rates below the national average, Federal Bureau of Investigation data shows, while half the states with the death penalty have homicide rates above the national average.” However, they erroneously concluded that the death penalty did not deter murder. The problem is that the states without the death penalty (Alaska, Hawaii, Iowa, Maine, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, North Dakota, Rhode Island, West Virginia, Wisconsin, and Vermont) have long enjoyed relatively low murder rates, something that might well have more to do with other factors than the death penalty. Instead one must compare, over time, how murder rates change in the two groups – those adopting the death penalty and those that did not.

More information is available in chapters 2 and 10 of More Guns, Less Crime (University of Chicago Press, 2010, third edition).

A cross country comparison and the problems with such a comparison is available here.

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77 Responses

  1. […] John Lott, president of the Crime Prevention Research Center – For more information, go to: http://crimepreventionresearchcenter…. – NRA News – December 2, 2013 – […]

  2. […] data). What that book points out is that every time that guns are banned any place in the world, murder rates have gone up. An additional discussion on state level data is available […]

  3. […] Such an exclusion in US homicide statistics could drop the number of homicides in 2012 by half, and the rate from 4.7 per 100,000 to 2.3. Which is not to say that the US should count homicides the way the Home Office does (to the contrary), but to highlight the differences in the way statistics are collected and presented. […]

  4. […] CNN.com INFOGRAPHIC: Gun Crimes Plummet Even As Gun Sales Rise | NSSF Blog FBI — Table 20 Murder and homicide rates before and after gun bans – Crime Prevention Research Center Active Shooter Statistics from the FBI | Attend an Active Shooter Seminar Congressional Study: Gun […]

  5. […] will actually stop the criminals from getting guns. Yet, even when there are complete bans on guns criminals are still able to obtain them. Given how much of violent crime is drug gang related and given how hard it is to stop drug gangs […]

  6. […] One problem with using these surveys is that people think that if one were to actually stop all criminals from obtaining guns from gun shows or through some other way, that will actually stop the criminals from getting guns. Yet, even when there are complete bans on guns criminals are still able to obtain them. […]

  7. […] the notion that more guns mean less crime. But he never in all his shows dealt with the evidence that when guns are banned murder rates go up, except in one show where he and Christiane Amanpour were dishonest about the facts for the […]

  8. […] a dialogue on this level please see these two posts here and here.four) “[m]ore than twice as many ladies are killed with a gun utilized by their husbands […]

  9. […] is not prosecuted on grounds of self defense or otherwise” (Report to Parliament)." Murder and homicide rates before and after gun bans – Crime Prevention Research Center We KNOW what the problem is. It's drug users. It's illegal aliens. It's the drug / gun running […]

  10. […] INFOGRAPHIC: Gun Crimes Plummet Even As Gun Sales Rise | NSSF Blog Murder and homicide rates before and after gun bans – Crime Prevention Research Center Congressional Study: Gun Ownership Drastically Up Since ’94, Murder Rate Cut in Half […]

  11. […] in past 20 years – CNN.com INFOGRAPHIC: Gun Crimes Plummet Even As Gun Sales Rise | NSSF Blog Murder and homicide rates before and after gun bans – Crime Prevention Research Center Congressional Study: Gun Ownership Drastically Up Since ’94, Murder Rate Cut in Half […]

  12. […] banning guns or some sort of gun buy back wouldn’t work here. Libtards like to claim “Well it worked in Australia!” Yeah that’s not America. Their gun culture and mentality was far different from ours […]

  13. […] You see, banning guns or some sort of gun buy back wouldn’t work here. Libtards like to claim “Well it worked in Australia!” Yeah that’s not America. Their gun culture and mentality was far different from ours when they […]

  14. […] starting in 1997. Culture of violence: Gun crime goes up by 89% in a decade | Daily Mail Online Murder and homicide rates before and after gun bans – Crime Prevention Research Center I've got to dig up the other […]

  15. […] I was reading an article online, the title of which was this: “Ban Knives, Save Lives.”  It was a story about a new movement in London to ban all sharp, pointy knives.  It would seem that, ever since England banned its handguns back in 1997, homeowners have taken to using some serious cutlery for purposes of self-defense.  And for good reason: Immediately following the gun ban, the English murder rate rose by about 50% (http://crimepreventionresearchcenter.org/2013/12/murder-and-homicide-rates-before-and-after-gun-bans…). […]

  16. […] laws and fewer firearms in the hands of civilians. No matter what the Second Amendment may say. Or the experience of other countries where handguns have been […]

  17. […] laws and fewer firearms in the hands of civilians. No matter what the Second Amendment may say. Or the experience of other countries where handguns have been […]

  18. sal says:

    Why not scroll down to Fact Check and see their take on Australian crimes?

  19. Nick Cooper says:

    UK homicide numbers had been increasing steadily since 1961. Is there any reason why you have not mentioned that the spike at “2003” can be explained by the numbers for that year (i.e. 2002/03) include 172 aggregated victims of Harold Shipman, without which the rate would have been 15.2?

  20. johnrlott says:

    Nick Cooper, please note that the peak in murders occurred in 2001/02. Our point was that the drop in homicides only occurred after the large increase in police. Subtracting Dr. Harold Shipman’s 172 homicides from the 2002/03 totals would only have shown the drop after the big increase in the number of police. How would raising that point have changed any of my discussion? I don’t see it.

    • Nick Cooper says:

      Right, so you think that somehow having more police on the streets can somehow affect the number of homicides, most of which don’t actually occur on those streets? The bottom line is that you’re trying to push the idea that “every place that has been banned guns has seen murder rates go up,” as if there is a causal effect, but in the case of England & Wales omit to mention that number and rate of homicides had been steadily rising since 1961. It’s not like it was flatlining and then suddenly spiked after less than 0.1% of the population had their handguns banned. Handguns that, of course, where only licensed for sporting uses, and definitely not self-defence. Are you seriously trying to say that would-be murderers suddenly felt safer at the thought of, “Wow! The chances of my victim having a handgun almost certainly inaccessible locked up in a gunsafe have just dropped from 1 in 1200 to zero, but the much higher chances of them having a different type of firearm or a shotgun effectively remain the same!” The idea is utterly preposterous.

      • Levi says:

        Youre so right! gun control is a joke! Criminals totally follow laws btw! liberals and democrats are so ignorant.

        • Nick Cooper says:

          No, the point in the UK is that there has never been widespread firearms ownership, so restricting part of it was never going to make a difference to crime in general, not least because the vast majority of which does not involve the criminal use of firearms. Most British criminals don’t use guns, so banning firearms that most of the population never had wasn’t going to have any effect.

          • Mike Baer says:

            I guess the bigger point would be that if removing the guns wasn’t going to have an effect as you stated, why do it?

          • johnrlott says:

            Dear Nick:
            This is false. If you would like a good book on the history of gun ownership in the UK, see Joyce Lee Malcolm’s Guns and Violence from Harvard University Press. Up until at least 1920, gun ownership was extremely common in the UK. Even a brief look at newspapers of the day would show many ads for guns in many forms (e.g., umbrella guns, cane guns, book guns). Indeed, it is mind boggling how many different ways that people in the UK disguised guns for protection.

      • Studzman says:

        So you think that just because the police are IN the streets, and the crimes happen, according to you, mostly OFF the streets, that the extra policing has no effects on the crime rate in a city. I mean if there are cops all over the place Im probably not going to risk shooting my roommate, in the backyard or even IN the house. And if the peak is such a big deal to you, ignore it, you still have a significant rise in homicides starting in 98/99.

      • Frankie Roy says:

        Nick Cooper I’m not entirely educated on this but first of all, there are several examples that do show murder rates increase. This may not be the case in every area, but with the amount of areas that do show an increase it is safe to say that there is some sort of connection. Now to call out the author on just one of his examples doesn’t prove this theory wrong, and if that is, in fact, what you are trying to do here then please research the other examples before calling it “preposterous”. In my own research on gun bans I have read persuasive passages from both sides but the most interesting one so far generally states that banning guns will both leave them vulnerable, and encourage those willing to commit these crimes to do so, knowing their victim will not have a firearm. By stating this I am not trying to prove you wrong or disrespect you, I’m simply putting the general idea into my own opinion based off of the research I have done.

  21. […] in an effort to assist Commissioner Evans, here is a report that shows that violent crime actually goes way up when guns have been banned in virtually any […]

  22. […] Lott, J. (2013, December 1). Murder and homicide rates before and after gun bans. Retrieved from Crime Prevention Research Center: http://crimepreventionresearchcenter.org/2013/12/murder-and-homicide-rates-before-and-after-gun-bans… […]

  23. […] source is Gun Facts.  If you’re feeling scholarly, the second source is a report from Dr. John Lott’s Crime Prevention Resource Center.  The third source is a paper by Economist Mark Gius in the journal Applied Economics Letters.  […]

  24. […] common sense!) Third, anti-gunners harassing Mr. Gates should redirect their efforts to combating crime in nearby D.C. perpetrated by criminals. Violence is high in The District because criminal activity isn’t reined in and strict gun […]

  25. […] in “progressive” jurisdictions with strict gun regulations, the violent crime rates are much, much higher — Hello, Chicago! — probably because the potential targets can’t defend […]

  26. […] “Every single time — and not just in places like Washington or Chicago, but around the world — that you’ve had a complete ban on guns, murder rates have gone up,” he claimed, citing analysis by the Crime Research Prevention Center. […]

  27. […] “Every single time — and not just in places like Washington or Chicago, but around the world — that you’ve had a complete ban on guns, murder rates have gone up,” he claimed, citing analysis by the Crime Research Prevention Center. […]

  28. […] “Every single time — and not just in places like Washington or Chicago, but around the world — that you’ve had a complete ban on guns, murder rates have gone up,” he claimed, citing analysis by the Crime Research Prevention Center. […]

  29. […] “Every single time — and not just in places like Washington or Chicago, but around the world — that you’ve had a complete ban on guns, murder rates have gone up,” he claimed, citing analysis by the Crime Research Prevention Center. […]

  30. […] “Every single time — and not just in places like Washington or Chicago, but around the world — that you’ve had a complete ban on guns, murder rates have gone up,” he claimed, citing analysis by the Crime Research Prevention Center. […]

  31. […] Rove has apparently missed the fact that violent crime in general and crimes involving firearms in particular are at historic lows.  And while he may long for the maneuvering room more oomph-intensive countries like Australia and the UK have in banning civilian firearm ownership, maybe he hasn’t seen what’s happened to their post-ban violent crime rates. […]

  32. […] Rove has apparently missed the fact that violent crime in general and crimes involving firearms in particular are at historic lows.  And while he may long for the maneuvering room more oomph-intensive countries like Australia and the UK have in banning civilian firearm ownership, maybe he hasn’t seen what’s happened to their post-ban violent crime rates. […]

  33. […] They got rid of guns, and their violent crime rates soared. Now they have to disarm the law abiding citizenry of knives, as well. […]

  34. […] Murder and homicide rates before and after gun bans – Crime Prevention Research Center crimeresearch… Reply With Quote […]

  35. Quora says:

    Why is Japan so safe?

    “When have we ever tried a nation-wide ban on guns to even get this data?” As I just mentioned in my previous post, you need to look at international evidence and longitudinal studie. International longitudinal studies control for local culture. Ther…

  36. […] But gun control advocates have a tendency to ignore overall homicides, and instead focus on homicides that are caused by firearms. When you do that, you’re missing the bigger picture. You’ll always fail to recognize that, while more guns equal more gun related crimes, they may also cause the overall violent crime rate to go down, a fact which has been proven time and time again. […]

  37. […] But gun control advocates have a tendency to ignore overall homicides, and instead focus on homicides that are caused by firearms. When you do that, you’re missing the bigger picture. You’ll always fail to recognize that, while more guns equal more gun related crimes, they may also cause the overall violent crime rate to go down, a fact which has been proven time and time again. […]

  38. […] But gun control advocates have a tendency to ignore overall homicides, and instead focus on homicides that are caused by firearms. When you do that, you’re missing the bigger picture. You’ll always fail to recognize that, while more guns equal more gun related crimes, they may also cause the overall violent crime rate to go down, a fact which has been proven time and time again. […]

  39. […] But gun control advocates have a tendency to ignore overall homicides, and instead focus on homicides that are caused by firearms. When you do that, you’re missing the bigger picture. You’ll always fail to recognize that, while more guns equal more gun related crimes, they may also cause the overall violent crime rate to go down, a fact which has been proven time and time again. […]

  40. […] But gun control advocates have a tendency to ignore overall homicides, and instead focus on homicides that are caused by firearms. When you do that, you’re missing the bigger picture. You’ll always fail to recognize that, while more guns equal more gun related crimes, they may also cause the overall violent crime rate to go down, a fact which has been proven time and time again. […]

  41. […] But gun control advocates have a tendency to ignore overall homicides, and instead focus on homicides that are caused by firearms. When you do that, you’re missing the bigger picture. You’ll always fail to recognize that, while more guns equal more gun related crimes, they may also cause the overall violent crime rate to go down, a fact which has been proven time and time again. […]

  42. […] But gun control advocates have a tendency to ignore overall homicides, and instead focus on homicides that are caused by firearms. When you do that, you’re missing the bigger picture. You’ll always fail to recognize that, while more guns equal more gun related crimes, they may also cause the overall violent crime rate to go down, a fact which has been proven time and time again. […]

  43. […] But gun control advocates have a tendency to ignore overall homicides, and instead focus on homicides that are caused by firearms. When you do that, you’re missing the bigger picture. You’ll always fail to recognize that, while more guns equal more gun related crimes, they may also cause the overall violent crime rate to go down, a fact which has been proven time and time again. […]

  44. […] But gun control advocates have a tendency to ignore overall homicides, and instead focus on homicides that are caused by firearms. When you do that, you’re missing the bigger picture. You’ll always fail to recognize that, while more guns equal more gun related crimes, they may also cause the overall violent crime rate to go down, a fact which has been proven time and time again. […]

  45. […] But gun control advocates have a tendency to ignore overall homicides, and instead focus on homicides that are caused by firearms. When you do that, you’re missing the bigger picture. You’ll always fail to recognize that, while more guns equal more gun related crimes, they may also cause the overall violent crime rate to go down, a fact which has been proven time and time again. […]

  46. […] But gun control advocates have a tendency to ignore overall homicides, and instead focus on homicides that are caused by firearms. When you do that, you’re missing the bigger picture. You’ll always fail to recognize that, while more guns equal more gun related crimes, they may also cause the overall violent crime rate to go down, a fact which has been proven time and time again. […]

  47. […] But gun control advocates have a tendency to ignore overall homicides, and instead focus on homicides that are caused by firearms. When you do that, you’re missing the bigger picture. You’ll always fail to recognize that, while more guns equal more gun related crimes, they may also cause the overall violent crime rate to go down, a fact which has been proven time and time again. […]

  48. […] But gun control advocates have a tendency to ignore overall homicides, and instead focus on homicides that are caused by firearms. When you do that, you’re missing the bigger picture. You’ll always fail to recognize that, while more guns equal more gun related crimes, they may also cause the overall violent crime rate to go down, a fact which has been proven time and time again. […]

  49. […] Murder and homicide rates before and after gun bans […]

  50. […] But gun control advocates have a tendency to ignore overall homicides, and instead focus on homicides that are caused by firearms. When you do that, you’re missing the bigger picture. You’ll always fail to recognize that, while more guns equal more gun related crimes, they may also cause the overall violent crime rate to go down, a fact which has been proven time and time again. […]

  51. […] But gun control advocates have a tendency to ignore overall homicides, and instead focus on homicides that are caused by firearms. When you do that, you’re missing the bigger picture. You’ll always fail to recognize that, while more guns equal more gun related crimes, they may also cause the overall violent crime rate to go down, a fact which has been proven time and time again. […]

  52. Quora says:

    What would it take, legally speaking, for America to completely ban guns?

    >There is no connection between more guns and a lower homicide rate. You misrepresent what I said. I *noted* that there are dramatically more guns in the US than 25 years ago, yet today we have HALF the homicide rate. I did not attribute cause and effe…

  53. […] to reconstruct macro-level trends by examining the data over the intervening decades. What we see is a rather large increase in murders after the ban—even allowing for the false spike in […]

  54. […] dictatorial and anti-democracy. On a second point, after Britain banned guns the murder rate rose. http://crimepreventionresearchcenter…fter-gun-bans/ […]

  55. […] in homicide rates. In fact, the 2010 homicide statistics was only a bit lower than in 1996.[7]  But in Kennesaw, Georgia, each household is required to maintain a firearm since 1982. Even […]

  56. […] in crime. And, in fact, after the UK’s 1997 nationwide handgun ban, their homicide rate actually increased by 50 percent over the next eight years.  The UK still had a lower homicide rate than the US, but this wasn’t because of the handgun […]

  57. […] crime. And, in fact, after the UK’s 1997 nationwide handgun ban, their homicide rate actually increased by 50 percent over the next eight years.  The UK still had a lower homicide rate than the US, but this wasn’t because of the handgun […]

  58. […] in crime. And, in fact, after the UK’s 1997 nationwide handgun ban, their homicide rate actually increased by 50 percent over the next eight years.  The UK still had a lower homicide rate than the US, but this wasn’t because of the handgun […]

  59. johnrlott says:

    Well, then, you didn’t check all the links because we have linked to DC crime data up through 2013. In any case, the graph has information up through 2005, so that also covers the period that you are interested in.

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