Gun control is among the most debated and divisive issues in the modern society. It refers to the activities that are aimed at controlling the number of guns owned by individuals. Some people have argued that increased gun control can effectively address the issue of increased violent crimes and related deaths in the modern society, while others have argued to the contrary. This paper will outline a research that shows the relationship between gun control and crime rates. The paper will be essential in understanding the role of gun control policies and debate in the law enforcement and crime control. The paper concludes that gun control can not singly result into reduced rate of crime in the modern society.
Gun control is the implementation of laws and policies which limit the number of guns held by the citizens in a given country or state. The laws also limit the number of guns being produced, imported or sold. Gun control is an activity that is aimed at controlling the number of guns owned by individuals. Gun control laws supposedly reduce the rate of crimes. The laws are laid down to control the types of guns that are held by people, the qualifications of people who are supposed to own a gun, as well as to control the number of guns owned by citizens. Safe storage of guns has to be restricted.
According to Moorhouse & Wanner (2006), fewer guns will mean that there will be fewer crimes. The linkage between gun control and the crime rates is in two steps: how gun control affects accessibility of lethal weapons and its effects on crime rates. The issue of gun control can be viewed from two perspectives. First, when gun laws are less tight, more people are likely to posses guns. Consequently, the number of crimes such as homicides will increase (Lytle, 2008).
Cases of violent crimes and killings are likely to increase since guns will fall in the wrong hands of people who will execute such crimes. On the other hand, gun control rules can be made less strict if the crime rates are high. People will be allowed to own guns as a self defence tools. This will be viewed as a way of reducing the crime rates. In fact, if the crime rates are high, this is likely to generate political debates on gun regulations. The relationship that exists between gun control and the rate of crimes can be determined in econometric sense (Lytle, 2008). This paper will outline a research that shows the relationship between gun control and crime rates.
Various countries, states and municipalities have adapted varying gun control laws in order to regulate the rates of crime. States can be placed into two categories depending on their gun control regulations. There are those states which do not have gun control rules while there are other ones which have the gun control rules. In the states where there are gun regulations, one is supposed to have a license in order to own a gun, and there is also a time one has to wait before he gets the license for carrying a the gun.
Gun control rules are usually out laid down in a bid to control crimes. However, according to Kwon, Scott, Safranski & Bae (1997), gun control rules do not have much effect when it comes to the reduction of gun related deaths. Strict rules to control gun ownership do not have much implication on the crimes which are associated with guns. Whether the rules are made strict or not, the rates of killings are the same or they vary slightly. There are numerous laws that have been put forward to control the number of guns in states and municipalities. The results of the regulations have, however, not been to expectations.
They have been unimpressive since the gun related deaths equal the number of deaths by accidents. However, according to the research by Kwon et al., (1997), there are other factors that have been identified to have a huge impact on the number of gun related crimes. The factors are the social economic ones. They include the level of poverty in society, the rate of alcoholism and unemployment among others. The higher the level of poverty is, the higher the likelihood of gun related guns (Lytle, 2008).
When more people are in possession of guns, the likelihood of gun related deaths and crimes are usually high (Wells, 2012). However, the number of guns does not increase this risk. There must be other contributing factors such as drug abuse and alcohol influence. In addition, domestic violence can contribute to the increased risk such deaths. Lack of employment especially the youths will prompt them to engage in criminal acts so as to get money.
The youths get into drugs, and they consequently get into criminal acts. The relationship between unemployment, drug abuse and engagement in criminal acts has been documented in the past. Therefore, unless these social economic factors are addressed, gun control rules will not help in reducing the rate of crimes. The availability of fire arms does not necessarily increase the probability of gun crimes and homicides (Wells, 2012).
Gun related crimes have been on the increase over the last couple of years. The crimes have been on the news headline more frequently than ever. School shootings, as well as killings of police officers and innocent citizens, have increased. This has captured the attention of leaders and politicians to enforce gun control laws. Police officers are there to protect their lives, but their job has become a risky since more of them are being killed as they protect the citizens.
There are laws enacted to reduce these incidents. However, the gun control laws have not shown any evidence to in affecting the lives of police officers. Whether the laws are made to be stricter or not, the police officers have continued to lose their lives. Among the laws that have been developed to reduce the numbers of felonious police officers are the right to carry firearms and the waiting periods. The International Association of Chiefs of Police (IACP) argued that the enactment of laws allowing citizens to carry guns for self defence will be effective in reducing the number of crimes since this will deter the criminals from victimizing the citizens who are law abiding (Mustard, 2001).
The law was, however, not supported by many citizens and professionals. The concealed carry laws only put the risk of losing life by police through being shot by irresponsible user of the guns as well as people who want heroic defensive use of guns. It is believed that the right to carry fire arms threatens the lives of police officers. This claim has, however, not been proven right since no person with a licensed gun has been caught having shot police officers (Mustard, 2001).
Therefore, the guns used to kill the police officers are likely to be non- licensed yet the laws to control guns are being highly enforced. The right to carry guns is, however, associated with the increased cases of homicide. People who are in possession of guns are treated as criminals who acquire the guns illegally. In addition, they might have acquired the guns rightfully but they use it for unintended purposes. The indulgent in criminal acts is in most cases contributed by the social economic factors. Therefore, the increased numbers of criminals who kill the police officers have indulged into the acts due to factors relating the economy or society. These could be drug abuse, unemployment, and alcoholism among others (Mustard, 2001).
It is usually assumed that safe storage gun laws help in reducing the number of deaths that are associated with gun shots. However, the impact of the same on crime rates is usually ignored (Lott & Whitley, 2001). However, there is no empirical evidence that gun control laws reduce accidental or suicidal deaths especially among children. On the other hand, the laws are said to reduce the ability of people to use guns for the purposes of self protection. As a result, the safe storage laws are said to increase the cases of violent crimes, which are usually directed towards the law abiding citizens (Lott & Whitley, 2001).
Citizens who are in possession of guns are required to store them safely. This will help to reduce the cases of accidental shooting and suicide. It has been argued that the restrictions on safe storage of guns will also be effective in reducing the rate of crime. It will be difficult for criminals to access guns and steal them. In fact, it was suggested that the guns should either have a locked trigger or kept safe where they can not be easily accessed. Despite the fact that the action will be important and effective in reducing the incidences of accidental death, it is also said to help in reducing the crime rates but not so effectively (Lott & Whitley, 2001).
Guns are usually bought for the purpose of self defence but locking them will reduce their effectiveness because when a gun is locked, it is not readily accessible for the purposes of defending oneself. In addition, the mechanical locks of guns call for the gun to be kept unloaded (Lott & Whitley, 2001). Criminals are likely to fear attacking people since they have their self defence. However, if the guns are not locked, it will make it easier for criminals to get an access to and, in turn, the rate of crimes will rise.
It is important to note that the cost of locking a gun is very high. First, it will be costly to lock the gun in terms of monetary value (Lott & Whitley, 2001). Second, locking the guns will not enhance its convenience in defending oneself. Criminals will be likely to attack since they know that the guns are not ready for firing (Lott & Whitley, 2001).
In testing the hypothesis of this research, variables will be used. The dependent variables will be the number of crimes that result from the irresponsible and illegal use of guns. On the other hand, the independent variables will be the rate of unemployment, level of poverty, use of drugs as well as alcoholism and the regulation of gun control rules. The dependent variables and the independent variables to be used in the research are to be based on the literature review. The study will seek to identify the relationship that exists between the independent variables and the dependent variable named above.
According to the previous studies notably the one by Kwon et al. (1997), there exists a positive relationship between the rate of employment and the number of gun related crimes and homicides. As the number of unemployed people increases, the number of gun related crimes are also said to increase. Therefore, this study will be seeking to proof this finding and, therefore, a positive relationship will be expected between unemployment and the rate of crimes.
Further, a positive relationship is also expected in the relationship between the rate of gun related crimes and the level of poverty. The same kind of relationship will be expected between the level of drug and alcohol consumption and the number of gun crimes. In addition, the overall relationship between the gun control rules and the rate of crimes will be established. This model will be seeking to identify the relationships that exist between the named variables.
The people to be included in the model are the youth between the ages of 18 years to 35 years old. The reason as to why this age group was selected is because the young people are the ones who are mostly involved in gun related crimes. Despite the fact that the rest of the population is also involved, the number is much less as compared to the youths. The hypothesis of this study, therefore, will be to test how other factors rather than gun possession contribute to increased crime rates. Tightening the gun control rules is not likely to result into reduced crime rates. There are other factors that contribute to the crimes, and they need to be addressed as a first priority.
Data for the purpose of this study is to be collected from past researches, which have been carried out in the past. Data for poverty levels in the states is to be gathered as well as data recorded for the other variables (alcoholism and drug use and unemployment). In each of the selected states, the collected data are to be compared with the rate of crimes. Then, the rules put forward to control gun possession will be also addressed.
Once the data have been collected, they will be presented in a simple descriptive statistics form which one can see the mean and standard deviation. Then a t- test between both the independent variables and the dependent variables will be carried out so as to evaluate the significant differences that exist between the variables before conducting a linear regression to evaluate how effective gun control rules can be in relation to the other factors that are said to favour the increase in the number of crime rates. It is important to note that research on the relationship between gun control rules and the rate of crimes has previously been impeded by not reliable data. This study will seek to gather data that are as accurate as possible.
Results and analysis of the data
Two tables were developed for the results. The first one presented the descriptive statistics and the t- test values while the other one represented the regression results. From the results, it is clear that the average number of deaths related to gun crime was higher in states where there were no gun control rules as compared to the number of deaths in the states where there were gun control rules. The ratio was 24.4:19.6 respectively.
In addition, it was found out that the rate of unemployment in countries where there were no gun control rules was higher. Also, the level of poverty in those states was slightly higher. However, the level of alcohol consumptions was relatively the same in all the states (that is) those with gun control rules and those with no gun control rules. In the states where there were gun control rules, the youths represented the highest percentage relative to the number of youths in the states with no gun regulation rules.
It was also found out that many people in states with gun control rules resided in the urban centres. In states with no gun control rules, the number of people living in urban centres was relatively lower. The results of descriptive statistics and the t-test are represented in the table below (Kwon et al., 1997).
Descriptive Statistics and t-values
States with Laws States without Laws
(LAW=1; n=26) (LAW=0, n=24)
Variables Mean SD Mean SD t-values
DEATHS (per 100,000) 19.58 7.80 24.44 8.71 2.08b
UEMP (%) 5.07 1.13 5.66 1.02 1.95
POVERTY (%) 11.40 2.70 14.87 4.71 3.17a
Urban (%) 73.14 11.76 62.80 15.82 2.64a
ALCOHOL (Per Capita) 2.42 0.33 2.47 0.80 0.29
AGE 18-35 (1000) 692.96 40.28 344.37 404.74 2.228b.
In the representation of the linear regression calculations the overall model was n = 50, whereby for states with gun regulation rules n = 26 while for the states with no gun regulations, n = 24. For all the models, R2 figure was at least 0.657. F = 6.91 (p = 0.000) for models of states with no gun control rules. The evidence shows that all the variables in the model gave the expected results and that among nations where there are gun control rules, the rate of crimes was low as compared to that of the states where there were no gun control rules. States where there were gun controls, the cases of homicide were 3 folds fewer than in the states where there were no gun control rules. The results for the linear regression models are represented in the table below (Kwon et al., 1997).
(Dependent Variable Number of Firearm Death per 100,000 Populations)
Overall with Laws without Laws
Regression Regression Regression
Variables coefficients t-values coefficients t-values coefficients t-values
Constant -14.599 1.503 -22.649 1.698 -1.159 0.072
LAW -2.844 1.356 NA NA NA NA
UNEMP 0.614 0.722 2.149 1.591 -0.143 0.116
POVERTY 1.347 4.340a 0.892 2.357b 1.367 2.345b
URBAN 0.071 0.880 0.240 2.408b 0.055 0.261
ALCOHOL 3.779 2.052b 2.178 1.059 -1.874 0.431
AGE1824 0.002 1.211 -0.003 1.009 0.007 2.914a
R2 0.657 0.832 0.765
F-value 8.510a 9.301a 6.914a
A p < 0.01, b p<0.05, c p<0.10
NA = Not Applicable.
Observable from the results is the fact that the social economic variables are important when considering the number of homicides and gun related crimes. Among this, the most important are the level of poverty and alcohol consumption. However, from the results, the relationship between unemployment and the number of gun crimes was found to be negative which was unexpected. The negative relationship could have resulted from the multiple collinearly that exists between poverty level and the rate of unemployment. The rest of the results were all expected. For instance, poverty is the major factor that can be attributed to the increased number of crimes as because people living in poverty might commit crimes due to their desperation or to meet their needs (Kwon et al., 1997).
Young people are the ones who are mostly involved in gun crimes. Their involvement is in large numbers for states where there are no gun control rules. The reason for their increased participation could be attributed to lack of employment and drug consumption. There are a large number of young people who live in urban centres, and they are connected with the gun crimes.
In general, it can be observed that gun control rules are effective in reducing the rate of crimes because as the results show, the states where there are gun control laws, have relatively less rate of crimes as compared to the rate of crime in states with no gun control laws. The number of deaths related to guns was higher in states where there were no gun control rules as well. However, the gun control rules were not the major factors contributing to the crimes despite the fact that they are effective. The major contributors of crimes were found to be the social economic factors. Therefore, in addressing the issue of increasing crime rates, it will be important to first consider the social economic factors.
The rate of gun related crimes have been on the increase causing concern to the government leaders and politicians. More deaths related to guns are reported, and more crimes are being committed. There are countries such as the United States of America where people are allowed to own guns for self defence. When people have the authority to own guns, there is a probability that criminals will have easy access to guns and, therefore, more gun crimes are likely to be reported.
On the other hand, when law abiding citizens are in possession of guns, criminals will be afraid of attacking them since they will fear being shot. Therefore, the rate of crimes will reduce. For this to be effective there should be laws which are put forward to regulate gun ownership and usage. The laws should be made strict to reduce the chances of criminals accessing them or using them to commit crimes. This will help in reducing the rates of crimes and killings by a high percentage.
In order to reduce the rate of crimes, however, gun control rules are not enough. There are other factors that contribute to crimes and need to be addressed. Among the factors that contribute to engagement in crimes are the social economic factors such as unemployment, poverty level, and alcohol and drug consumption among others. These factors together with the gun control laws enforcement will be effective in combating the high rate of crimes.
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Lott, J. R. & Whitley, J. E., (2001). Safe-Storage Gun Laws: Accidental Deaths, Suicides, and Crime. Journal of Law and Economic, XLIV.
Lytle. M. (2008). Policing, drugs and the homicide decline in New York City in the 1990s. Policing: An International Journal of Police Strategies & Management, 31(1), 385-414.
Moorhouse, J. C. & Wanner, B. (2006). Does Gun Control Reduce Crime or Does Crime Increase Gun Control? Cato Journal, 26(1).
Mustard, D. B. (2001). The Impact Of Gun Laws On Police Deaths; Journal of Law and Economics, XLIV.
Wells, W. (2012). The effects of gun possession arrests made by a proactive police patrol unit. Policing: An International Journal of Police Strategies & Management, 35(2), 253 – 271.