Fox & Friends Hosts GOP Lawmaker To Push Myth That More Guns Deter Crime
Research ››› ››› ERIC SCHROECK
Fox & Friends hosted GOP Rep. Louie Gohmert (R-TX) to suggest that more people carrying guns would deter crime, as well as falsely claim the District of Columbia is the "criminal capital of the country." In fact, numerous experts have argued that there is no link between laws allowing people to carry guns and a decrease in crime.
Fox Provides Forum For Gohmert's Suggestion That More People Carrying Guns Would Deter Crime
Gohmert: "[G]uns Are The Great Equalizer." On Fox & Friends, Gohmert suggested that more people carrying guns would deter crime, claiming that "guns are the great equalizer." From Fox & Friends:
GOHMERT: We're not at risk when we're in the Capitol. Those guys are great. They do a good job. But unless you're in leadership, you walk through the criminal capital of the country, because D.C. leaders have -- have continued to try to ban guns so that the only people in Washington, D.C., that have guns besides law enforcement are the criminals.
GOHMERT: I know that guns are the great equalizer, and for people that -- like the sergeant-in-arms that say, you know, guns don't -- aren't the problem, actually, you know, saying guns are the problem is like saying spoons are what make people fat. Maybe we'll need to regulate the size of spoons. But with guns, it's an equalizer.
And if you keep in mind, in Arizona, and let me just say, we continue to pray for our friend Gabby and all of those who have been harmed by this evil gunman out there. But at the same time, look at who came running to the scene. It was a guy that was packing. Because he knew he had the equalizer with him and he could use it if he needed to. And he had the good discretion not to; he didn't need to. And, of course, that wonderful lady that grabbed the magazine was immensely helpful, but had -- had there not been somebody else come running to the scene, there would have been a lot more people in trouble. [Fox News' Fox & Friends, 1/14/11]
In Fact, Experts Argue There Is No Link Between Right-To-Carry Laws And Decrease In Crime
Daniel Webster: "Permissive Right-To-Carry Laws Could Make It Harder For Police ... To Deter Gun Violence." In a New York Times post, Daniel Webster, co-director at the Center for Gun Policy and Research at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, wrote:
[L]aws prohibiting gun-carrying are an important tool for police to use to suppress the practice in so-called hot spots for shootings. Police units focused on deterring illegal gun-carrying have been the most consistently effective approach to reducing gun violence. Permissive right-to-carry laws could make it harder for police to use this law to deter gun violence. [The New York Times, 1/11/11]
Webster: "Permissive Right-To-Carry Laws" May Actually Increase Crime. In his New York Times post, Webster also wrote:
When mass shootings occur, many think that, if only one of the citizens at the site had access to a firearm, they could have taken the gunman out and saved lives. That's an odd argument to make in a state where probably more people carry guns than in any other state.
While you can find an example to prove this point, it begs the question of whether it's sound public policy to allow anyone who is not prohibited by our weak gun laws to carry firearms anywhere they choose. It is not clear that permissive right-to-carry laws haven't increased violence. There have been numerous studies of these laws, many of which have substantial flaws. The best study was done by Ian Ayres and John Donohue, law professors at Yale and Stanford, respectively, and disaggregates the effects for each state and type of crime.
The estimates from their best models show right-to-carry laws associated with increases in 7 of 9 crimes studied, with the largest effect (+9 percent) being the crime many researchers would have hypothesized would increase - aggravated assaults.
John Donohue: Empirical Evidence Refutes Claim That Right-To-Carry Laws Would Reduce Crime. In a New York Times post, Stanford Law professor John Donohue wrote: "[W]hile some early studies by John Lott and others suggested that state policies providing greater freedom to carry guns would reduce crime, empirical evidence refutes this view. Wise gun policy and individual consumer choice to carry weapons involves weighing competing probabilities." [New York Times, 1/12/11]
Donohue's 2003 Study Concludes: "No Longer Can Any Plausible Case Be Made On Statistical Grounds That Shall-Issue Laws Are Likely To Reduce Crime For All Or Even Most States." In a 2003 study titled, "Shooting Down the 'More Guns, Less Crime' Hypothesis," Donohue and Yale Law professor Ian Ayres concluded, "No longer can any plausible case be made on statistical grounds that shall-issue laws are likely to reduce crime for all or even most states." Further, Donohue and Ayres stated:
While we do not want to overstate the strength of the conclusions that can be drawn from the extremely variable results emerging from the statistical analysis, if anything, there is stronger evidence for the conclusion that these laws increase crime than there is for the conclusion that they decrease it. ["Shooting Down the 'More Guns, Less Crime' Hypothesis," 10/02]
NRC Committee: "Not Possible To Determine ... Causal Link Between The Passage Of Right-To-Carry Laws And Crime Rates." In 2004, a National Research Council (NRC) committee released a report on right-to-carry laws and their effects on crime. The committee concluded that "it is not possible to determine that there is a causal link between the passage of right-to-carry laws and crime rates." From the committee's conclusion:
The literature on right-to-carry laws summarized in this chapter has obtained conflicting estimates of their effects on crime. Estimation results have proven to be very sensitive to the precise specification used and time period examined. The initial model specification, when extended to new data, does not show evidence that passage of right-to-carry laws reduces crime. The estimated effects are highly sensitive to seemingly minor changes in the model specification and control variables. No link between right-to-carry laws and changes in crime is apparent in the raw data, even in the initial sample; it is only once numerous covariates are included that the negative results in the early data emerge. While the trend models show a reduction in the crime growth rate following the adoption of right-to-carry laws, these trend reductions occur long after law adoption, casting serious doubt on the proposition that the trend models estimated in the literature reflect effects of the law change. Finally, some of the point estimates are imprecise. Thus, the committee concludes that with the current evidence it is not possible to determine that there is a causal link between the passage of right-to-carry laws and crime rates. [Firearms and Violence, Committee on Law and Justice, National Research Council, 2004]
2010 Study Concurs With NRC Committee's Conclusion, But Added That Panel Data Suggests "RTC Laws Likely Increase The Rate Of Aggravated Assault." In a June 2010 study re-examining the NRC committee's analysis on the effects that right-to-carry laws on crime rates, Donohue and professors Abhay Aneja and Alex Zhang stated that "we agree with the [NRC] committee's cautious final judgment on the effects of RTC laws," but that "[i]f one had to make judgments based on panel data models of the type used in the NRC report, one would have to conclude that RTC laws likely increase the rate of aggravated assault." From the conclusion:
Finally, despite our belief that the NRC's analysis was imperfect in certain ways, we agree with the committee's cautious final judgment on the effects of RTC laws: -with the current evidence it is not possible to determine that there is a causal link between the passage of right-to-carry laws and crime rates. Our results here further underscore the sensitivity of guns-crime estimates to modeling decisions.If one had to make judgments based on panel data models of the type used in the NRC report, one would have to conclude that RTC laws likely increase the rate of aggravated assault. Further research will be need to see if this conclusion survives as more data and better methodologies are employed to estimate the impact of RTC laws on crime. ["The Impact of Right-to-Carry Laws and the NRC Report: Lessons for the Empirical Evaluation of Law and Policy," 6/29/10]
Study Finds "Weak Evidence That RTC Laws Increase Or Decrease The Number Of Public Mass Shootings." A November 2002 study by criminologists Grant Duwe, Tomislav Kovandzic, and Carlisle Moody analyzing 25 right-to-carry laws found "virtually no suport for the hypothesis that the laws increase or reduce the number of mass public shootings." ["The Impact of Right-To-Carry Concealed Firearm Laws on Mass Public Shootings," 11/02]
Criminologist Citing 2002 Study: "[T]he Effects Of RTC Laws Are Negligible, Neither Encouraging Nor Discouraging Mass Murder." In a January 12 post on The Boston Globe's Crime & Punishment blog, James Alan Fox, professor of Criminology, Law, and Public Policy at Northeastern University, cited the 2002 study by Duwe, Kovandzic, and Moody and wrote:
[T]he effectiveness of concealed-carry laws in deterring mass murder is an empirical question, one that has been examined thoroughly by criminologists Grant Duwe, Tomislav Kovandzic, and Carlisle Moody. Using fairly sophisticated analytic techniques, they assessed the extent to which enactment of various RTC laws in 25 states across the country were associated with any change in the incidence of public mass shootings in the years from 1977 through 1999. Based on their estimates, the effects of RTC laws are negligible, neither encouraging nor discouraging mass murder. [Boston Globe's Crime & Punishment blog, 1/12/11]
Gohmert Falsely Claims D.C. Is "The Criminal Capital Of The Country"
Gohmert: Washington, D.C., Is "The Criminal Capital Of The Country, Because D.C. Leaders ... Have Continued To Try To Ban Guns." From the January 14 Fox & Friends:
GOHMERT: We're not at risk when we're in the Capitol. Those guys are great. They do a good job. But unless you're in leadership, you walk through the criminal capital of the country, because D.C. leaders have -- have continued to try to ban guns so that the only people in Washington, D.C., that have guns besides law enforcement are the criminals. [Fox & Friends, 1/14/11]
CQ Press: D.C. No. 22 In Annual Crime Rate Rankings. Using 2009 FBI crime data, CQ Press ranked Washington, D.C., at No. 22 in its 2010 city crime rate rankings. St. Louis, Missouri, ranked No. 1. [CQ Press crime rate rankings, 2010]
D.C. Did Not Rank In Top 15 Of Forbes' 2009 List Of "Most Dangerous Cities." Using 2008 FBI violent crime statistics, Forbes compiled a list of the 15 "most dangerous cities" in the United States. Washington, D.C., did not rank among them. However, the FBI cautions against compiling crime rankings of cities, stating that "these rankings lead to simplistic and/or incomplete analyses that often create misleading perceptions adversely affecting cities and counties, along with their residents." [Forbes.com, 4/23/09; FBI website, accessed 1/14/11]