June 11, 2020

U.S.A. –-(Ammoland.com)- A rigorous study of crime and deer hunting spanning 20 years and millions of people, found long gun use in rural areas either slightly reduced violent crime or had no impact.

Aside from the contributions above, this paper is meaningful for policy-makers as it provides evidence that immense changes in rural recreational long gun use have no economically significant impacts on violent crime.

This is an enormous, well-done study that is being ignored by urban media. The study was published on 1 December 2018.

The author,  Paul Niekamp deserves kudos for tackling a difficult academic problem with integrity. Mr. Niekamp works hard at identifying potential problems and dealing with them in his study.  His identifying of deer season long gun use as a natural experiment to measure the effect of long gun availability on crime rates was a brilliant insight.

The finding that alcohol and drug offenses by juvenile males dropped by significant amounts during the increased long gun usage destroys the image of rural gun owners as drunken, irresponsible louts.

Second Amendment supporters have long touted the positive effects of firearms training and hunting on the character development of young people. The study is the first to validate that effect in a rigorous academic paper, albeit only as it relates to reduced illicit drug and alcohol use.

The numbers of crimes are low in rural communities to start with. It makes the study findings all the more compelling.

In low crime areas, the prevalence of long gun use (actively carrying long guns and ammunition) is increased by huge amounts: 300%, on average, during deer season. The effect on violent crime is non-existent or a slight decrease. From semanticscholar.org:

Good Bang for the Buck:Effects of Rural Gun Use on Crime

Paul Niekamp December 1, 2018

Abstract This paper provides the first estimates of the effect of rural recreational gun use on crime. Each year, more than 10 million Americans, comprising 18% of all American gun owners, use firearms to hunt deer during restricted dates. Hunting proponents argue that long guns are not positively associated with violent crime, while the sheer magnitude of hunter activity requires this hypothesis be tested to inform gun policy design. My empirical strategy exploits variation across states in opening dates of firearm-based deer hunting seasons,which create larger increases in gun use than any other policy in existence. Combining daily crime data with deer hunting seasons spanning 20 years and 21 states, I estimate that the start of firearm season is associated with a 300% increase in long gun prevalence. Despite this enormous increase in gun use, I find no evidence of an increase in violent crime. I estimate the elasticity of violent crime with respect to recreational long gun use to be between -0.01 and+0.0003. Moreover, I estimate that alcohol-related arrests of juvenile males fall by 22% and narcotic offenses fall by 15% at the start of hunting season,suggesting that firearm hunting may have positive externalities via reducing risky juvenile male behavior.

The study does not consider handgun usage. The author mentions several hypotheses in the current academic debate about guns and crime but does not claim any policy as effective. From the paper:

My paper demonstrates that two key claims in the gun control debate are not mutually exclusive. It is plausible that handguns used for defensive purposes increase violent crime while long guns used in rural, recreational environments do not. The social costs of gun use may depend on the type of gun and reason for ownership. While previous literature sheds light on the effects of firearm ownership, we know almost nothing about the effects of recreational firearm use. I provide the first evidence of the crime effects of large increases in rural firearm use due to hunting season regulations. In doing so, I observe enormous, systematic fluctuations in firearm use that do not exist in any urban setting. These regulations impact 12.7 million firearm deer hunters each year and 4.3 million covered by my sample. Second, I examine an understudied sample: rural male recreational long gun users who actively use firearms. Hunters comprise up to one quarter of total firearm owners, and over half of all firearms in the United States are long guns (Azrael et al., 2017). Given that rural individuals own different firearms for different reasons than other firearm owners commonly studied in the literature, impacts on violent crime may differ.

The study is another data point showing the mere presence of firearms does not cause crime, and likely has positive effects.

The author mentions numerous other studies, including the study of  Duggan, Hjalmarsson, and Jacob (2011), on the effect of regulated v. unregulated gun shows in Texas and California.  It is not surprising the author missed the most statistically significant finding of that study: Homicides were reduced in Texas following gun shows.  The authors played down the finding. They did not include it in their abstract of the article.  From the Texas/California study:

“But our results provide little evidence of a gun show-induced increase in mortality in Texas. In fact, we find that in the two weeks following a gun show, the average number of gun homicides declines in the area surrounding the gun show. Aggregating across all gun shows in the state, we find that there are approximately 16 fewer gun homicides resulting from the 200 gun shows in the average year. In the sections below, we discuss several possible explanations for this counter intuitive finding. However, it is important to keep in mind that while these results are statistically significant, they are quite small – representing just one percent of all homicides in Texas in the average year.”

The study about California and Texas gun shows has been largely ignored by the legacy media. It confirms a similar effect seen in the deer hunting study by Niekamp: the activation of large numbers of members of the gun culture either has no effect or causes a slight reduction in violent crime.

Proponents of a disarmed population are, generally, not interested in cost/benefit ratios of gun ownership, and how guns are used. They start with the premise guns are bad, then work from there.

It is worthwhile to show rigorous studies that refute that hypothesis.

True believers will not be convinced. Truth seekers will see there are several sides to the issue which are being ignored. A skeptic on the issue is almost as good as a Second Amendment supporter.

Dean Weingarten has been a peace officer, a military officer, was on the University of Wisconsin Pistol Team for four years, and was first certified to teach firearms safety in 1973. He taught the Arizona concealed carry course for fifteen years until the goal of Constitutional Carry was attained. He has degrees in meteorology and mining engineering, and retired from the Department of Defense after a 30 year career in Army Research, Development, Testing, and Evaluation.