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Firearms and Violence: A Critical Review FIREARMS AND VIOLENCE A CRITICAL REVIEW Committee to Improve Research Information and Data on Firearms Charles F. Wellford, John V. Pepper, and Carol V. Petrie, editors Committee on Law and Justice Division of Behavioral and Social Sciences and Education NATIONAL RESEARCH COUNCIL OF THE NATIONAL ACADEMIES THE NATIONAL ACADEMIES PRESS Washington, D.C. www.nap.edu
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Firearms and Violence: A Critical Review THE NATIONAL ACADEMIES PRESS 500 Fifth STREET, N.W. Washington, DC 20001 NOTICE: The project that is the subject of this report was approved by the Governing Board of the National Research Council, whose members are drawn from the councils of the National Academy of Sciences, the National Academy of Engineering, and the Institute of Medicine. The members of the committee responsible for the report were chosen for their special competences and with regard for appropriate balance. This study was supported by the National Academy of Sciences and Grant No. 2000-IJ-CX-0034 from the National Institute of Justice, Grant No. 200-2000-00629 from the Department of Health and Human Services, the Joyce Foundation (grant not numbered), Grant No. 200-8064 from the Annie E. Casey Foundation, and Grant No. 2001-16212 from the Packard Foundation. Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this publication are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the organizations or agencies that provided support for the project. Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data National Research Council (U.S.). Committee to Improve Research Information and Data on Firearms. Firearms and violence : a critical review / Committee to Improve Research Information and Data on Firearms ; Charles F. Wellford, John V. Pepper, and Carol V. Petrie, editors ; Committee on Law and Justice, Division of Behavioral and Social Sciences and Education. p. cm. Includes bibliographical references and index. ISBN 0-309-09124-1 (hardcover)—ISBN 0-309-54640-0 (pdf) 1. Firearms and crime—United States. 2. Firearms and crime—Research—United States. 3. Firearms ownership—United States. 4. Violence—United States. 5. Violence—United States—Prevention. I. Wellford, Charles F. II. Pepper, John, 1964-III. Petrie, Carol. IV. National Research Council (U.S.). Committee on Law and Justice. V. Title. HV6789.N37 2004 364.2—dc22 2004024047 Additional copies of this report are available from National Academies Press, 500 Fifth Street, N.W., Lockbox 285, Washington, DC 20055; (800) 624-6242 or (202) 334-3313 (in the Washington metropolitan area); Internet, http://www.nap.edu. Printed in the United States of America. Copyright 2005 by the National Academy of Sciences. All rights reserved. Suggested citation: National Research Council. (2005). Firearms and Violence: A Critical Review. Committee to Improve Research Information and Data on Firearms. Charles F. Wellford, John V. Pepper, and Carol V. Petrie, editors. Committee on Law and Justice, Division of Behavioral and Social Sciences and Education. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press.
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Firearms and Violence: A Critical Review THE NATIONAL ACADEMIES Advisers to the Nation on Science, Engineering, and Medicine The National Academy of Sciences is a private, nonprofit, self-perpetuating society of distinguished scholars engaged in scientific and engineering research, dedicated to the furtherance of science and technology and to their use for the general welfare. Upon the authority of the charter granted to it by the Congress in 1863, the Academy has a mandate that requires it to advise the federal government on scientific and technical matters. Dr. Bruce M. Alberts is president of the National Academy of Sciences. The National Academy of Engineering was established in 1964, under the charter of the National Academy of Sciences, as a parallel organization of outstanding engineers. It is autonomous in its administration and in the selection of its members, sharing with the National Academy of Sciences the responsibility for advising the federal government. The National Academy of Engineering also sponsors engineering programs aimed at meeting national needs, encourages education and research, and recognizes the superior achievements of engineers. Dr. Wm. A. Wulf is president of the National Academy of Engineering. The Institute of Medicine was established in 1970 by the National Academy of Sciences to secure the services of eminent members of appropriate professions in the examination of policy matters pertaining to the health of the public. The Institute acts under the responsibility given to the National Academy of Sciences by its congressional charter to be an adviser to the federal government and, upon its own initiative, to identify issues of medical care, research, and education. Dr. Harvey V. Fineberg is president of the Institute of Medicine. The National Research Council was organized by the National Academy of Sciences in 1916 to associate the broad community of science and technology with the Academy’s purposes of furthering knowledge and advising the federal government. Functioning in accordance with general policies determined by the Academy, the Council has become the principal operating agency of both the National Academy of Sciences and the National Academy of Engineering in providing services to the government, the public, and the scientific and engineering communities. The Council is administered jointly by both Academies and the Institute of Medicine. Dr. Bruce M. Alberts and Dr. Wm. A. Wulf are chair and vice chair, respectively, of the National Research Council. www.national-academies.org
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Firearms and Violence: A Critical Review COMMITTEE TO IMPROVE RESEARCH INFORMATION AND DATA ON FIREARMS CHARLES F. WELLFORD (Chair), Department of Criminology and Criminal Justice, University of Maryland, College Park ROBERT F. BORUCH, Graduate School of Education, University of Pennsylvania LINDA B. COTTLER, Department of Psychiatry, Washington University School of Medicine ROBERT D. CRUTCHFIELD, Department of Sociology, University of Washington JOEL L. HOROWITZ, Department of Economics, Northwestern University ROBERT L. JOHNSON, Adolescent and Young Adult Medicine, New Jersey Medical School STEVEN D. LEVITT, Department of Economics, University of Chicago TERRIE E. MOFFITT, Department of Psychology, University of Wisconsin SUSAN A. MURPHY, Department of Statistics, University of Michigan KAREN E. NORBERG, Department of Psychiatry, Boston University, and Center for Health Policy at Washington University, St. Louis PETER REUTER, School of Public Affairs, University of Maryland RICHARD ROSENFELD, Department of Criminology and Criminal Justice, University of Missouri-St. Louis JOEL WALDFOGEL, Public Policy and Management Department, The Wharton School, University of Pennsylvania JAMES Q. WILSON, Department of Management and Public Policy (emeritus), University of California, Los Angeles CHISTOPHER WINSHIP, Department of Psychology, Harvard University JOHN V. PEPPER, Study Director ANTHONY BRAGA, Consultant BRENDA McLAUGHLIN, Research Associate MICHELE McGUIRE, Project Assistant RALPH PATTERSON, Senior Project Assistant
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Firearms and Violence: A Critical Review COMMITTEE ON LAW AND JUSTICE 2003-2004 CHARLES F. WELLFORD (Chair), Department of Criminology and Criminal Justice, University of Maryland, College Park MARK H. MOORE (Vice Chair), Hauser Center for Non-Profit Institutions and John F. Kennedy School of Government, Harvard University DAVID H. BAYLEY, School of Criminal Justice, University of Albany, SUNY ALFRED BLUMSTEIN, H. John Heinz III School of Public Policy and Management, Carnegie Mellon University RICHARD BONNIE, Institute of Law, Psychiatry, and Public Policy, University of Virginia Law School JEANETTE COVINGTON, Department of Sociology, Rutgers University MARTHA CRENSHAW, Department of Political Science, Wesleyan University STEVEN DURLAUF, Department of Economics, University of Wisconsin, Madison JEFFREY FAGAN, School of Law and School of Public Health, Columbia University JOHN FEREJOHN, Hoover Institution, Stanford University DARNELL HAWKINS, Department of Sociology, University of Illinois, Chicago PHILLIP HEYMANN, Harvard Law School, Harvard University ROBERT L. JOHNSON, Adolescent and Young Adult Medicine, New Jersey Medical School CANDACE KRUTTSCHNITT, Department of Sociology, University of Minnesota JOHN H. LAUB, Department of Criminology and Criminal Justice, University of Maryland, College Park MARK LIPSEY, Center for Crime and Justice Policy Studies, Vanderbilt University DANIEL D. NAGIN, H. John Heinz III School of Public Policy and Management, Carnegie Mellon University RICHARD ROSENFELD, Department of Criminology and Criminal Justice, University of Missouri-St. Louis CHRISTY VISHER, Justice Policy Center, Urban Institute, Washington, DC CATHY SPATZ WIDOM, Department of Psychiatry, New Jersey Medical School CAROL V. PETRIE, Director RALPH PATTERSON, Senior Project Assistant
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Firearms and Violence: A Critical Review Contents Preface ix Executive Summary 1 1 Introduction 11 2 Data for Measuring Firearms Violence and Ownership 19 3 Patterns of Firearm-Related Violence 53 4 Interventions Aimed at Illegal Firearm Acquisition 72 5 The Use of Guns to Defend Against Criminals 102 6 Right-to-Carry Laws 120 7 Firearms and Suicide 152 8 Firearm Injury Prevention Programs 201 9 Criminal Justice Interventions to Reduce Firearm-Related Violence 221 References 242
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Firearms and Violence: A Critical Review Appendixes A Dissent James Q. Wilson 269 B Committee Response to Wilson’s Dissent 272 C Judicial Scrutiny of Challenged Gun Control Regulations: The Implications of an Individual Right Interpretation of the Second Amendment Scott Gast 276 D Statistical Issues in the Evaluation of the Effects of Right-to-Carry Laws Joel L. Horowitz 299 E Biographical Sketches of Committee Members and Staff 309 Index 317
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Firearms and Violence: A Critical Review Preface Few topics engender more controversy than “gun control.” Large segments of the population express contradictory opinions and assert contradictory facts when they discuss the role of firearms in violence and especially how to reduce violent injuries and deaths that involve firearms. The report of the Committee on Improving Research Information and Data on Firearms was not intended to, nor does it reach any conclusions about the issue of gun control. Rather, we have addressed what empirical research tells about the role of firearms in violence. Our recommendations address how to improve the empirical foundation for discussions about firearms policy. Until that foundation is better established, little progress is likely in the ongoing public debate over firearms. One theme that runs throughout our report is the relative absence of credible data central to addressing even the most basic questions about firearms and violence. As we often state in the report, without much better data, important questions will continue to be unanswerable. This is unacceptable when we see the impact that firearm-related violent injury and death have on American society and especially some of the most vulnerable segments of that population. The fact that little can be said about the prevention and control of these levels of death and injury—when for some segments of the population they are the leading causes of death and injury—is of concern to us as citizens and scientists. Reaching consensus on a controversial topic for which research is limited and in conflict requires an exceptional committee and staff. The committee has spent the past two years learning about research and data on firearms and seeking to learn from each other how our disciplines evaluate
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Firearms and Violence: A Critical Review and use this knowledge. It is only because committee members had diverse backgrounds, uncommon respect for each other, and a willingness to apply common scientific standards to our deliberations that we were able to complete our work in what I think is an exceptional manner. Some may disagree with our analysis, but none can question our effort to raise the science of firearms research so that it can begin to inform public policy. I thank committee members for their work and patience. Needless to say, the staff for the committee carried a very heavy load. Without them we would have not been able to complete our work. John Pepper in particular deserves special recognition as the study director. John not only provided outstanding staff support but he also helped form the structure of our report, edited and contributed to many of the chapters, was the primary drafter of one chapter, and always managed to see a way forward when we seemed stymied. Carol Petrie, staff director of the Committee on Law and Justice, provided invaluable insight into the way we could deal with controversial topics, helped keep us on track, and edited every chapter. Brenda McLaughlin, research associate, provided valuable assistance, and Michelle McGuire, program assistant, and Ralph Patterson, senior project assistant, performed superbly. The committee is grateful to Anthony Braga, Harvard University, whose work as a consultant to the committee throughout its period of operation was invaluable. And the committee wants to thank Christine McShane, of the Division on Social and Behavioral Sciences and Education, for her invaluable assistance in preparing the manuscript for review and publication. She provided clear and sensible guidance on chapter and appendix organization, and she did an outstanding job of editing the entire report, several times. The committee could not have completed its work without the assistance of many scholars and policy officials who gave unstintingly of their time and shared their resources, their work, and their thinking. To gather information on a variety of subjects from a diversity of perspectives, we held four public workshops: the Workshop on Firearms Research and Data, August 30-31, 2001; the Workshop on Intentional Injuries and Firearms, November 15-16, 2001; the Workshop on Self-Defense, Deterrence and Firearm Markets, January 16-17, 2002; and the Workshop on Firearm Injury Prevention and Intervention, May 28-29, 2002. We thank all of the individuals who served as presenters and discussants at these meetings. They are listed here alphabetically, and with their affiliations at the time of each workshop: Roseanna Ander, Joyce Foundation; J. Lee Annest, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention; Arthur Berg, Harvard University; Paul Blackman, National Rifle Association; Alfred Blumstein, Carnegie Mellon University; David Bordua, University of Illinois-Urbana/Champaign; Anthony Braga, Harvard University; David Brent, University of Pittsburgh;
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Firearms and Violence: A Critical Review Stephen Bronars, University of Texas, Austin; Philip Cook, Duke University; Patti Culross, David and Lucile Packard Foundation; Peter Cummings, University of Washington; Mike Dowden, Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms; Jeffrey Fagan, Columbia University; Scott Gast, University of Virginia; Susan Ginsburg, Independent Consultant; Robert Hahn, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention; Marjorie Hardy, Eckerd College; Stephen Hargarten, Medical College of Wisconsin; David Hemenway, Harvard University; Sally Hillsman, Office of Research and Evaluation, National Institutes of Justice; David Kennedy, Harvard University; Gary Kleck, Florida State University; Christopher Koper, University of Pennsylvania; Colin Loftin, State University of New York-Albany; John Lott Jr., American Enterprise Institute; Jens Ludwig, Georgetown University; John Malone, Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms; Michael Maltz, University of Illinois, Chicago; David McDowall, State University of New York-Albany; James Mercy, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention; Victoria Ozonoff, Massachusetts Department of Public Health; Glenn Pierce, Northeastern University; Jeffrey Roth, University of Pennsylvania; Eric Sevigny, Carnegie Mellon University; Lawrence Sherman, University of Pennsylvania; Kevin Strom, Research Triangle Institute; Stephen Teret, Johns Hopkins University; Robyn Thiemann, U.S. Department of Justice; Douglas Weil, The Brady Center to Prevent Gun Violence; Timothy Wheeler, Claremont Institute; Brian Wiersema, University of Maryland; Deanna Wilkinson, Temple University; James Wright, University of Central Florida; and Franklin Zimring, University of California. This report has been reviewed in draft form by individuals chosen for their diverse perspectives and technical expertise, in accordance with procedures approved by the Report Review Committee of the National Research Council (NRC). The purpose of this independent review is to provide candid and critical comments that will assist the institution in making the published report as sound as possible and to ensure that the report meets institutional standards for objectivity, evidence, and responsiveness to the study charge. The review comments and draft manuscript remain confidential to protect the integrity of the deliberative process. We thank the following individuals for their participation in the review of this report: Esther Duflo, Department of Economics, Massachusetts Institute of Technology; John A. Ferejohn, Hoover Institution, Stanford University; Arthur S. Goldberger, Department of Economics, University of Wisconsin; Lawrence Gostin, Georgetown University Law Center; Ken Land, Department of Sociology, Duke University; Steven Messner, Department of Sociology, University of Albany, State University of New York; Jeffrey Miron, Department of Economics, Boston University; Lee N. Robins, Department of Psychiatry, Washington University School of Medicine; Paul Rosenbaum, Department of Statistics, Wharton
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Firearms and Violence: A Critical Review School, University of Pennsylvania; Arlene Rubin Stiffman, School of Social Work, Washington University; and Michael Tonry, Institute of Criminology, University of Cambridge. Although the reviewers listed above have provided many constructive comments and suggestions, they were not asked to endorse the conclusions or recommendations nor did they see the final draft of the report before its release. The review of this report was overseen by Elaine Larson, School of Nursing, Columbia University, and Christopher Sims, Department of Economics, Princeton University. Appointed by the National Research Council, they were responsible for making certain that an independent examination of this report was carried out in accordance with institutional procedures and that all review comments were carefully considered. Responsibility for the final content of this report rests entirely with the authoring committee and the institution. Charles F. Wellford, Chair Committee on Improving Research Information and Data on Firearms