Second Amendment advocates have long argued that the presence of firearms can actually work to deter crime. It makes sense when you think about it. If the criminals know there’s a chance someone is armed, they’re not likely to threaten them.
This is a good way to find your criminal career end the hard way.
Yet there are few studies that actually support this supposition. At least, there were until now.
A study from the non-partisan National Bureau of Economic Research may show that the idea that bad guys don’t want to face armed citizens isn’t just a wild guess.
The study took a look at something that happened in Memphis, Tennessee.
It seems that a local newspaper decided to create a database of addresses of those who had concealed carry permits. The searchable database included names, addresses, and ages of everyone with a permit.
Now, to say this was an invasion in privacy is an understatement.
However, since it happened, researchers decided to look and see if there was any impact on crime. Interestingly, there was.
“We find that burglaries increased in zip codes with fewer gun permits, and decreased in those with more gun permits, after the database was publicized,” the abstract reads.
Of course, it’s possible that some other factor led to the change in burglaries in those zip codes. However, it’s unlikely that something happened to coincide perfectly with the publishing of the database.
Another item of note, though, is that there was concern that the database would lead to people with guns being targeted in particular. The study also looked at this. Their findings?
“This is of interest, because one of the main concerns of gun rights protestors (and, indeed, one of the arguments in support of gunowners’ privacy) was that the publication of the database would make it easier for burglars to steal their guns,” the study observed. “This should have been reflected in an increase in guns stolen during burglaries in zip codes with more gun permits. However, we do not find such an effect, perhaps because many of the guns stolen were rifles, and rifle owners did not need to apply for a handgun permit.”
Interesting, to be sure.
However, that doesn’t really eliminate privacy concerns many gun owners may have had.
Still, the interesting point is that knowing that people in a given area had guns reduced burglaries in those neighborhoods.
As the researchers noted, this suggests these crimes were generally not crimes of opportunity but were instead premeditated. After all, if it was a crime of opportunity, how did they manage to check the database?
Regardless, this is one of those studies that really needs a whole lot more attention and discussion. After all, it pokes holes in a lot of things both sides have long believed.