New York Times quotes Dr. John Lott on Texas’ new Constitutional Carry law

Oct 26, 2022 | Constitutional Carry, Media Coverage

The New York Times has a surprisingly balanced news story on Texas’ new Constitutional Carry law. See Mr. David Goodman’s article quoted below.

That said, a truly balanced piece wouldn’t have cited research on only one side of the issue. Dr. Lott told Mr. Goodman about peer-reviewed research on Constitutional Carry with data up through 2019 that found a benefit from these laws in reducing murder rates (see Table 3 on page 4). Dr. Lott also pointed out to Mr. Goodman that other work directly contradicted some of the other claims made in the article. “Here is some other work that Professor Carl Moody, our research director and a professor at William & Mary, did on Constitutional Carry looking at police killings, murder rates, and firearm homicides.”

It would also be extremely useful to show that overall violent crime in Texas’ four largest cities clearly went down in the first nine months of this year compared to the first nine months of last year (see notes below). The law went into effect on September 1, 2021.

From the New York Times.

The loosening of regulations also landed in the middle of a national debate over crime. Researchers have long argued over the effect of allowing more people to legally own and carry guns. But a series of recent studies has found a link between laws that make it easier to carry a handgun and increases in crime, and some have raised the possibility that more guns in circulation lead to more thefts of weapons and to more shootings by the police.

“The weight of the evidence has shifted in the direction that more guns equals more crime,” said John J. Donohue III, a Stanford Law School professor and the author of several recent studies looking at gun regulations and crime.

Much of the research has been around the effects of making handgun licenses easier to obtain, part of what are known as right-to-carry laws, and Mr. Donohue cautioned that only limited data is available on laws that in most cases require no licenses at all.

“I think most people are reasoning by analogy: If you thought that right-to-carry was harmful, this will be worse,” he said.

But John R. Lott Jr., a longtime researcher whose 1998 book, “More Guns, Less Crime,” has been influential among proponents of gun rights, said the newer studies did not take into account differences between state handgun regulations that might account for increases in crime. He also pointed to some recent crime declines in Texas cities after the permitless carry law went into effect, and to what he saw as the importance of increasing lawful gun ownership in high-crime areas.

“If my research convinces me of anything,” Mr. Lott said, “it’s that you’re going to get the biggest reduction in crime if the people who are most likely victims of violent crime, predominantly poor Blacks, are the ones who are getting the permits.”

In Dallas, there has been a rise in the number of homicides deemed to be justifiable, such as those conducted in self-defense, even as overall shootings have declined from last year’s high levels.

J. David Goodman, “Texas Goes Permitless on Guns, and Police Face an Armed Public,” New York Times, October 26, 2022.

Texas’s Constitutional Carry law only went into effect on September 1, 2021. Among Houston, Fort Worth, Dallas, and San Antonio. Violent crime year-to-date this year compared to 2021 has fallen in Houston (-10%), Fort Worth (-15%), and Dallas (-12%), but went up in San Antonio (4.7%). So overall total violent crime across these four large cities has fallen significantly in the first nine months of this year compared to the same period last year. It is essential when you are dealing with such short time periods to compare the same portion of the year because crime rates vary a lot in the summer and other times.

Let us first note that many factors impact crime rates, such as the DAs in Harris and Travis Counties not prosecuting violent criminals and introducing bail reform. Texas has also experienced a massive influx of people from across its border, and recent evidence indicates that the murder rate by those individuals is higher than for the native US population. 

In Houston, for the first nine months of 2021 (the period right before the law went into effect) compared to the first nine months of this year, the violent crime rate fell by 10% and murders were unchanged.

Fort Worth

As of Aug. 23, 2022, we saw a 5.5% year-to-date decrease in homicides, 24% decrease in nonfatal shootings, and a 23% decrease in overall aggravated assaults. Unfortunately, we have seen a 2.4% increase in robberies.

Dallas

The Dallas police department “says overall violent street crime, which includes murders, robbery and non-family violence aggravated assault, is down 12 percent from 2021. Robberies fell 17 to 22 percent during the first year of the crime plan depending on the type of robbery, according to police. The data shows aggravated assaults fell 5 percent.” Though their murder rate is up by 12%. See also here.

San Antonio

Crime data

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