The flawed and misleading Donohue, Aneja & Weber study claiming Right-To-Carry laws increase violent crime.


new, unpublished study by John Donohue, Abhay Aneja, and Kyle Weber has received a lot of attention for supposedly finding some evidence that right-to-carry laws increase overall violent crime rates.  It has been covered in NewsweekThe AtlanticBloombergViceSnopes, and many newspapers such as Newsday and the Salt Lake City Tribune.  As is typical of Donohue’s work, there is no attempt to mention or respond to prior criticisms, and he just repeats the same, seriously biased methods and errors.

Publications such as Time and Newsweek would always interview critics when they ran stories on Lott’s original research.  But when studies have the right political biases, reporters no longer get both sides of the story.  But especially when the media explicitly describes a study as “debunking” John Lott’s previous research, you might think a reporter would call up Lott and get his take on it.  It has been two weeks after the Donohue-led research started getting attention, and not a single reporter has contacted him.

The bottom line is pretty clear: Since permit holders commit virtually no crimes, right-to-carry laws can’t increase violent crime rates. You can’t get the 1.5 to 20 percent increases in violent crime rates that a few of their estimates claim with only thousandths of one percent of permit holders committing violent crimes.

To put it differently, for Donohue, Aneja, and Weber’s results to be plausible, police departments would have to be missing 99.4% of cases where permit holders have committed violent crimes.  For other states the numbers below show similar results: Louisiana police would have to miss 99.5% of crimes committed by permit holders, Oklahoma would have to miss 99.93%, Tennessee 99.98%, and Texas 99.54%.