May 25, 2016

Harvard Study-Gun Bans Don’t Work


( — A recent study published in the Harvard Journal of Law & Public Policy concludes that banning firearms does not reduce murder and suicide rates.

The study, “Would Banning Firearms Reduce Murder and Suicide? A Review of International and Some Domestic Evidence,” just appeared in Volume 30, Number 2 of the Harvard Journal of Law & Public Policy (pp. 649-694).

The findings of two criminologists — Prof. Don Kates and Prof. Gary Mauser — in their exhaustive study of American and European gun laws and violence rates, are telling:

Nations with stringent anti-gun laws generally have substantially higher murder rates than those that do not. The study found that the nine European nations with the lowest rates of gun ownership (5,000 or fewer guns per 100,000 population) have a combined murder rate three times higher than that of the nine nations with the highest rates of gun ownership (at least 15,000 guns per 100,000 population).

For example, Norway has the highest rate of gun ownership in Western Europe, yet possesses the lowest murder rate. In contrast, Holland’s murder rate is nearly the worst, despite having the lowest gun ownership rate in Western Europe. Sweden and Denmark are two more examples of nations with high murder rates but few guns. As the study’s authors write in the report:

If the mantra “more guns equal more death and fewer guns equal less death” were true, broad cross-national comparisons should show that nations with higher gun ownership per capita consistently have more death. Nations with higher gun ownership rates, however, do not have higher murder or suicide rates than those with lower gun ownership. Indeed many high gun ownership nations have much lower murder rates. (p. 661)

The study also shows that Russia’s murder rate is four times higher than the U.S. and more than 20 times higher than Norway. Russia has practically eradicated private gun ownership.

The important thing to keep in mind is not the rate of deaths by gun — a statistic that anti-gun advocates are quick to recite — but the overall murder rate, regardless of means. The criminologists explain:

Per capita murder overall is only half as frequent in the United States as in several other nations where gun murder is rarer, but murder by strangling, stabbing, or beating is much more frequent.



335 Responses to “Harvard Study-Gun Bans Don’t Work”
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  3. Let the MSM investigate the creds of the authors? Foot note: they probably have and found them impeccable. That’s why no MMS reporting.

  4. massmanute says:

    The lead author, Don Kates, gives his institutional affiliation as Pacific Research Institute. That organization is well known for promoting conservative and libertarian positions. That alone does not invalidate the study, but it does raise the red flag. The authors might not be unbiased. This could manifest itself in many ways, such as selective use of data that supports one’s point of view while ignoring data not supporting one’s point of view. Did this happen in this case? I don’t know.

    The biggest problem in this whole pro-gun/anti-gun debate is that there are few if any credible sources of unbiased information. Nearly everyone who writes on this topic has a particular point of view they want to promote, regardless of whether they are pro-gun or anti-gun.

    • massmanute says:

      Some additional information about this study. It was published in Harvard Journal of Law & Public Policy. This publication is the self-described at the journal’s website as “The nation’s leading forum for conservative and libertarian legal scholarship.”

      Author Don Kate’s association with Pacific Research Institute was already noted, as well as the fact that this organization is well-known for promoting conservative and libertarian positions.

      Author Gary Mauser is an academic with a long history of studying firearms-related issues. He also self described representative of “National Firearms Association”, as stated in his statement with the rather long title of “United Nations Biennial Meeting of States to Review Progress Made in the Implementation of the Programme of Action to Prevent, Combat and Eradicate the Illicit Trade in Small Arms and Light Weapons in All Its Aspects”.

      Given their backgrounds and self-described interests, as well as the self described mission of the journal where they published their paper, this paper can in no way be taken at face value as unbiased.

      As I already pointed out, that does not necessarily invalidate the paper. In fact I believe it contains some interesting and useful information to help inform this controversial topic. However, it would also be foolish to assume that this paper presents a complete and unbiased study of this topic.

  5. Bill K. says:

    How many studies does it take for common sense? Maybe they will keep up the “studies” until they find one they like. Because Liberals ignore studies unless it agrees with their agenda.

  6. Russ says:

    Of corse it dosn’t work.
    Stick to the contitution. 2A
    If you don’t like the American way, go back to your $#1+hole country and quit trying to turn the US into one.

  7. Jim London says:

    In other words, what this study has figured out is that the weapons we have or can legally purchase if allowed, do NOT cause the maelstrom that the anti gun group lead by the NYC Mayor say or preach to those that will listen. It tells the president and those around him that he is leading a cause in the wrong direction and needs to change course for any future democrat to have a chance at election either in the coming midterms or the next presidential election.
    Sadly, once a politician get their heels dug in even they are shown they are wrong or find out for themselves, they still maintain course so not to loo as a fence sitter or a wishy washy politician.
    Hopefully a copy of this has already made to the desk of all those who firmly believe we should NOT have a weapon of our choice and that at least one of them or maybe even more will awake and see it is the person, not the weapon that is the root cause and that a change in the system needs to be done to stop the problems we face today.
    Probably won’t, but, at least it is a hope.
    It appears it is time for a dramatic change come next election that will let a pro 2A person and those that surround him or her to get elected and change the things done wrong by this administration.

  8. James Long says:

    I have to agree that its age alone makes it irrelevant to the media. It wouldn’t make any difference, anyway. The anti-gun crowd is just as goal oriented and information blind as the rest of the liberal hate groups. With the data in this report, they would argue that since our murder rate is lower than other coutries with gun bans, if ours were banned our murder rate would be even lower. You can’t use logic and facts to change anyone’s BELIEF. Beliefs are impervious to logic. For example, if one believes in God, arguing against that belief will only make the believer dig in his heels even harder. The only way to preserve freedoms is to beging educating the young as early as possible and hope it sticks.

    • Lupe s. says:

      yea,,How about bring prayer back to school , The Ten comamdment back into the public view. very seen prayer was taken out of our school system, Things have gone wrong. This is one Nation under “GOD “, we seem to have forgotten that. Our founding Fathers knew It. Our government now days think they know better than GOD. that my friends is the problem.GOD HELP US ALL.

  9. Handy Andy says:

    the study was published 6 years ago and can be found here in its entirety:

  10. “Homicide” is one thing . . . but the rest of the study is not too friendly to friends of the 2nd Amendment. I thought about posting this to my Facebook page, but then I checked the rest of the findings and figured it would be counter-productive.

  11. Steve says:

    This is a great study, but news flash: it came out in 2007. I’ve been referencing this study for years. This will never make the mainstream media if it didn’t in 2007.

  12. John W says:

    The conspiracy theory J can be used on most studies I think. Some one has to fund the study but does it make that study any less valid? Where is there a study to backup the Democrat’s assertion that guns cause crime? Just because they say it doesn’t make it so! I think the culmination of drug use and a bad economy is the root cause of our recent problems with shootings and crime. But I don’t have a study to document my statement and if I did someone would dispute it.

  13. Rick says:

    @JJohnston: You are correct in looking at the source. The problem is that any source in today’s climate will be viewed as tainted. What we have here is a gun friendly company paying for a study done by a liberal friendly university. That does add balance and probably gives credibility to the study. I would like to see a further study done on US cities where there has been tight gun control (Chicago, Dallas, Washington, Baltimore, New York, etc. versus Dallas, San Antonio, Charleston, etc. which are in gun friendly states. If there was no difference or gun crimes were lower in the gun friendly states, then you would have to deduce that gun control does not work.

    • massmanute says:

      Please take a little more care in vetting your sources of information. This study was NOT done by a liberal friendly university (Harvard). It is not published by Harvard University, nor were the authors on the faculty of staff of Harvard University. The publication (Harvard Journal of Law and Public Policy) is a self-described student-edited journal of libertarian and conservative scholarship. It is the official journal of the Federalist Society, which is an organization of conservatives and libertarians seeking to reform the legal system. It has no official connection to Harvard University, although it was started by students from Harvard Law School, along with students from several other law schools .

      This is not to say that the article has nothing useful to say, but given the fact that both the journal and its sponsoring organization are, in fact, advocacy organizations, you cannot assume that the article is balanced, objective, or unbiased.

      • massmanute says:

        Additional information, somewhat contradictory. The wikipedia page about the Harvard Journal of Law and Public Policy states that the Journal is the official Journal of the Federalist Society. However, the webpage for the Journal says “The Harvard Journal of Law & Public Policy is published… by the Harvard Society for Law & Public Policy, Inc., an organization of Harvard Law School students.”

        In any case, the Journal is not published by Harvard University, and the study in question had NO connection to Harvard University, so the author of this webpage misrepresents the article in a major way.

  14. gregg says:

    This “recent” study was published in Spring 2007.

  15. JStan says:

    Britain banned guns and had one of their most violent riots – with bats and clubs; Australia banned guns and violent crime (not firearm related) rose dramatically. Facts don’t count when an agenda is on the table.

  16. JJohnston says:

    We really need to know who funded the study. For all the factuality of John Lott’s study, for example, the left claims it’s invalid because it was funded by Olin – parent company of Winchester. And I have to admit that does add some taint that’s hard to argue away.

    • Fischer says:

      What difference does it make who funded it? The truth is the truth, although the maniac in chief apparently is incapable of telling it and the extremists on the left are immune to it.

    • J Mosher says:

      Yet, the left has no problem spouting statistics from “studies” and “polls” put up by and funded by anti-gun organizations.

      There is no taint to John Lott’s work just because it was funded by Olin. Unlike most of the “factoids” created by the antis, this was a completely above board study with outstanding documentation.

    • gunpowdergreg says:

      J.J I understand the apprehension but facts are facts. We see these same kind of statistics when we compare murder rates and gun related murder rates vs between cities/states with the least and most restrictive gun laws; Chicago. The funding by someone in the firearm industry to get the actual facts out only makes good sense on the other hand actual facts can not work for the anti-gunners so they don’t bother to fund a study just rely on the same old lies, half-truths and misconceptions that they have touted for years.

    • Lochlyn Grendelsson says:

      If I am not totally mistaken – John Lott started out with the premise that “more guns = more crime” and found it to be quite the opposite.

    • Tom Owen says:

      JJ, then let’s scrutinize the funding of the Left’s finding just as well…or better yet, ask them to fund the study if they’re so interested in the “truth” of gun ownership versus overall murder rate…yeah, the leftist organizations will be lining up to donate!!

  17. Kaiahso says:

    Lets see if this makes it into the mainstream media.

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