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Handguns, Homicides and the Gun Control Act of 1968 (From Handgun Control Legislation - Hearings, P 318-338, 1982 - See NCJ-93399)

NCJ Number
J P Magaddino; M H Medoff
Date Published
21 pages
Using a single equation mode that controlled for various socioeconomic factors, the cumulative stock of handguns, and an index of violent crime, this analysis found a significant increase in handgun purchases since the passage of the Gun Control Act of 1968.
The 1968 law imposed Federal licensing of individuals to manufacture or deal in firearms and a ban on all interstate transportation of weapons to or from individuals not licensed as dealers, manufacturers, importers, or collectors. It also prohibited knowingly transferring licenses to certain groups classified as irresponsible or potentially dangerous and placed restrictions on the importation of relatively inexpensive firearms. The single-equation analysis of handgun purchase data from the 1947-77 period showed that permanent income, hunting licenses, and urbanization had a positive and significant effect on handgun purchases. It also appeared that handgun purchases were systematically related to rising violent crime rates. However, regression analysis indicated that the Gun Control Act did not reduce handgun purchases, since there has been a significant increase in purchases since its enactment. A structural model of the criminal choice-criminal justice system allowed the isolation of the act's impact on homicide rates and the opportunity to examine the interaction between handgun acquisition and homicide rates. This analysis reaffirmed that the Gun Control Act did not have a statistically or numerically significant impact on homicide levels. However, the structural model also found that hunting licenses, permanent income, time trends, and urbanization were statistically insignificant, whereas the fraction of the population between 25 and 40 was positively related to the rate of handgun acquisition. These results do not mean that the law was a failure, since it may have reduced the sales of handguns to groups classified as potentially dangerous or prone to violence. Tables, equations, footnotes, and 13 references are supplied.


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