University of New Hampshire
Major: Justice Studies/Sociology
Mentor: Dr. Charles Putnam, UNH JusticeWorks
Gun Control Laws and the Crime Rate: Impact of Gun Control Policies on the Crime Rate
The purpose of gun control laws is to 1) filter and manage the types of firearms, 2) develop and enforce a list of requirements and qualifications that determine who is allowed to purchase and own a firearm, and 3) restrict the retention and usage of firearms. It is widely held belief that gun control policies reduce crime. The notion follows this general pattern: fewer guns will result in less crime and thereby validate the need for strict gun control laws. However, previous criminological research on the effectiveness of gun control policies has been shown to have mixed results. Results at times vary from study to study. In 2008 the Supreme Court, in Heller v. the District of Columbia, found the District’s 1975 handgun ban unconstitutional and a violation of the 2nd Amendment. The purpose of my research is to analyze the incidence of gun related crimes before and after the Heller decision in 2008. To be more specific, I am comparing and contrasting gun crime and non-gun crime, in the District of Columbia (D.C.) from 2006 to 2012. In addition, this project compares D.C. to several other cities: Baltimore, Chicago, Boston and Seattle. I will collect crime statistics and demographic data to analyze gun crime trends within D.C. to compare with similar cities to examine the similarities and differences in trends from 2006 forward. The goal of this study is to scrutinize what effects this particular firearms policy has had on crime in general and gun related crimes in particular. With this research project I intend to observe whether crime has increased, decreased, or remained the same as a result of the Heller decision. I hypothesize that the Heller Decision has had very little affect on the crime rate and that other societal ills such as poverty, lack of education, and race discrimination have had more of an impact on the level of crime.