Thesis

The effects of California's concealed carry weapons laws on certain violent crime rates

This study investigated the question of whether the legal carrying of concealed handguns by licensed citizens reduces violent crime. Rational choice theory provided the context for the study’s basic premise that a prevalence of concealed carry licensees should work to reduce violent crime by presenting a risk (e.g., offender apprehension, injury, or death) greater than the perceived benefit of carrying out a crime (e.g., monetary gain). Essentially, the research question asks whether the “armed guardian” is an effective answer to violent crime. California’s 58 counties were compared across rates of concealed carry permits and aggravated assaults, robbery, forcible rape, and willful homicide rates while controlling for the effects of population density and crime clearance rates. Twelve analyses were performed which examined the associations and relationships between concealed carry permit rates and four types of violent crime. Of the 12 analyses performed, eight analyses tended to show support for the underlying hypotheses that counties with higher rates of concealed carry permits experienced lower rates of aggravated assault, robbery, and willful homicide. Conversely, three analyses indicated a positive relationship between forcible rape and concealed weapons permit rates. The study found that increased rates of concealed carry permits predicted (a) reductions in aggravated assault rates, (b) reductions in robbery rates, (c) increases is rape rates, and (d) virtually no causal relationship to willful homicide rates.

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