This past December marked three years since the massacre at Sandy Hook. Commemorating the anniversary, President Obama took to Facebook to pen a post that wondered how we as a nation explain congressional inaction on gun control to the victims' families. This type of rhetoric has been a common refrain from the president in the wake of other mass shootings since Newtown and the near-daily shootings in cities like Chicago. But despite attempts by President Obama, congressional Democrats, and the gun control lobby to push for stricter gun laws as the answer to gun violence, the nation remains divided on the issue.
So where do academics stand on the relationship between gun ownership and crime? A newly released survey of experts from the Crime Prevention Research center found that researchers supported what Second Amendment advocates have argued all along regarding concealed handgun laws, gun-free zones, self-defense and crime, and suicide and guns.
Authors of the report John R. Lott, Jr., president of the Crime Prevention Research Center, and Gary Mauser, Professor Emeritus of the Marketing Department at Simon Fraser University, surveyed criminologists and economists who had published peer-reviewed empirical research on gun issues. The survey found that differences exist between these two groups of academics, with the economists much more inclined to believe guns makes people safer. Criminologists, on the other hand, do not hold this belief as strongly. They are also more divided on the idea of deterrence than economists. Still, when their responses are combined, the results show that the researchers believe guns are used more for self defense than crime; gun-free zones fail to deter criminals, rather, they attract them; guns in the house don’t increase the risk of suicide; those who hold concealed handgun permits are more law-abiding than the average American; and permitted concealed handguns lower the murder rate.
"Economists and criminologists have very different approaches to research and different political views, but they both generally find benefits from gun ownership," Lott told Townhall in an email. "Economists, on the whole, were much more likely than criminologists to believe that there are benefits from gun ownership. By a factor of 12-to-1, economists believe that permitted concealed handguns reduce rather than increase murder rates. Despite their differences, still criminologists also believe this by a factor of just 2-to-1."
Perhaps surveys such as this will help Americans take a level-headed approach to gun control in the future.