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Guns Reduce Crime

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Debate Details

Does widespread gun ownership prevent crimes by empowering law-abiding citizens? Or does normalized gun presence make violent crime more likely, and encourage untrained civilians to take the law into their own hands?  Do guns reduce crime? 

The Debaters

For the motion

Stephen Halbrook

Represents the NRA in suits against the DC and Chicago handgun bans

Halbrook's most recent book is The Founders' Second Amendment. He filed a brief on behalf of over 300 members of Congress in the Supreme Court case... Read More

Gary Kleck

Professor in the College of Criminology and Criminal Justice at Florida State University

Kleck's research centers on violence and crime control, focusing on gun control and crime deterrence. Kleck is the author of Targeting Guns: Firearms... Read More

John R. Lott

Senior Research Scholar at the University of Maryland

Lott has held positions at the University of Chicago, Yale University, Stanford, UCLA, Wharton, and Rice and was the chief economist at the United... Read More

Against the motion

John J. Donohue

Leighton Homer Surbeck Professor at Yale Law School

Donohue’s recent work has used large-scale statistical studies to estimate the causal impact of law and public policy in a wide range of areas from... Read More

Paul Helmke

President of the Brady Campaign/Center to Prevent Gun Violence

The Brady Center to Prevent Gun Violence is the nation's largest national, non-partisan, grassroots organization leading the fight to prevent gun... Read More

R. Gil Kerlikowske

36-year Veteran of Law Enforcement

Kerlikowske was appointed as chief of police for Seattle in August 2000. Kerlikowske served as the police commissioner for Buffalo, New York. He has... Read More

Where Do You Stand?

For The Motion
  • Because law-enforcement cannot be present at every crime, having guns in the hands of the law-abiding populace deters crime.
  • As seen in Washington D.C. in 1976, Chicago in 1982, and the UK in 1997, bans on guns encourage only law-abiding citizens to relinquish their firearms and directly result in increased crime rates.
  • Policies that allow law-abiding citizens to carry weapons while also restricting those with a history of violence from gun ownership make it more challenging for criminals to successful commit their intended crimes. 
Against The Motion
  • Widespread gun ownership does not deter criminals; it simply normalizes gun presence in day-to-day life and compels criminals to use guns in their illegal acts.
  • Civilians that look to guns for personal security are often poorly trained and may do more harm than good when attempting to prevent a perceived crime.
  • Prevalent gun ownership fosters a secondary market in which guns are sold or lent to individuals who are not licensed or eligible to own a weapon and who harbor the intent to commit crimes.

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The Research

The Research

Key Events and Legislation in the History of Guns in America

CBS News December 9
March 1, 2016

Homicide and Suicide Risks Associated with Firearms in the Home

Douglas J. Wiebe
June 1, 2016

Will You Be Safer if Guns Are Banned?

David Kopel
March 1, 1995
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