Flawed gun policy research could endanger public safety

D. W. Webster, J. S. Vernick, J. Ludwig, K. J. Lester

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

20 Scopus citations


A highly publicized recent study by Lott and Mustard concludes that laws easing restrictions on licenses for carrying concealed firearms in public substantially reduce violent crime. Several serious flaws in the study render the authors conclusions insupportable. These flaws include misclassification of gun-carrying laws, endogeneity of predictor variables, omission of confounding variables, and failure to control for the cyclical nature of crime trends. Most of these problems should bias results toward overestimating the crime-reducing effects of laws making it easier to carry concealed firearms in public. Lott and Mustard's statistical models produce findings inconsistent with criminological theories and well-established facts about crime, and subsequent reanalysis of their data challenges their conclusions. Public health professionals should understand the methodological issues raised in this commentary, particularly when flawed research could influence the introduction of policies with potentially deleterious consequences.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)918-921
Number of pages4
JournalAmerican journal of public health
Issue number6
StatePublished - 1997

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


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