NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis


December 3, 2007

The problem with Washington, D.C.'s handgun ban -- as anyone who can look up the crime numbers will see -- is that D.C.'s murder and violent crime rates went up, not down, after the ban. Prior to the ban DC's murder rate was falling. After the ban, DC's murder rate rose, and only once fell below what it was in 1976, says John Lott, Senior Research Scientist at the University of Maryland.


  • The District's ban specifically points to Great Britain's handgun ban in January 1997; but the number of deaths and injuries from gun crime in England and Wales increased 340 percent in the seven years from 1998 to 2005.
  • The rates of serious violent crime, armed robberies, rapes and homicide have also soared.
  • Similar experiences have been seen with other bans, such as those in Ireland and Jamaica.

The District also notes that the regulations requiring the lock-up and disassembly of guns do not "prevent the use of a lawful firearm in self-defense."  But taking the District's claims as accurate, locked guns are simply not as readily accessible for defensive gun uses, says Lott:

  • In the United States, states that require guns be locked up and unloaded face a 5 percent increase in murder and a 12 percent increase in rapes.
  • Criminals are more likely to attack people in their homes and those attacks are more likely to be successful.

Since potentially armed victims deter criminals, storing a gun locked and unloaded actually encourages increased crime, says Lott.  If the phrase "keep handguns and other firearms for private use in their homes" was chosen for a purpose, it might be that gun lock laws raise their own problems that limit people's ability to use guns for defense."

Source: John Lott, "Gun bans lead to increase in violent crime," Jurist, November 24, 2007.

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