Scholarly Comments on Academic Economics

RTC Laws Increase Violent Crime: Moody and Marvell Have Missed the Target

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An NBER working paper by Donohue, Aneja, and Weber (DAW) estimates the impact of right-to-carry (RTC) laws and finds using data from 1979–2014 that RTC laws lead to significant increases in violent crime whether one adopts a traditional panel data approach or a new synthetic control analysis. Carlisle Moody and Thomas Marvell (MM) respond by mimicking those two approaches, but serious coding errors mar every estimate they offer in their paper. Moreover, their suggestions for changing the methodologies employed by DAW are both conceptually and econometrically flawed. Despite these flaws, the actual MM synthetic control estimates for each adopting state, which they fail to present in either state-by-state or aggregated form, suggest that RTC laws in aggregate have generated a 16 percent increase in violent crime over the decade following adoption, which is roughly the same as the 13–15 percent increase predicted by DAW.

This article is a response to Do Right to Carry Laws Increase Violent Crime? A Comment on Donohue, Aneja, and Weber by Carlisle E. Moody and Thomas B. Marvell (EJW, March 2019).