More Guns, Less Crime: Does the Lott Model Work in South Africa?

Way back in October 2000, a gentleman by the name of Dr. Richard Wesson wrote a research paper placing the conclusions of Prof. John Lott’s More Guns, Less Crime in a South African context. This is an incredibly important piece of academic work, and I was saddened and disappointed about only recently learning of its existence, nearly 18 years later. None the less, this body of work remains completely relevant, and it is a highly important read for all South Africans who care about their constitutional Right to Life. It is presented here in full, with the document attached at the bottom in Word format.


By Dr. Richard Wesson

Executive Summary

Analysis of the latest data and opinion relating to South African murder rates was carried out with regard to Professor Lott’s Model; “More Guns, Less Crime”.

Sociological aspects were examined to determine whether pressure was being inflicted on society to increase crime or to reduce it.  It was determined that overwhelmingly, pressure, especially economic pressure should be driving people to crime.

Antony Altbeker’s research was examined to determine whether carrying a legal firearm increased the likelihood of robbery, or other violence to the person.  No evidence could be found since the research was not representative of persons defending themselves with licensed firearms, because most successful defences were not reported to the SAPS.  Unsuccessful defences could not be compared against the unknown number of successful defences.

The most recent murder figures available from CIAC/SAPS were examined. It was found that total murder rates, firearm murder rates and handgun murder rates have all fallen since 1994.  Indeed handgun murder rates have fallen by 22% in that period.

The figures and opinions were compared against Lott’s Model.  Statistics relating to domestic violence and rape are unreliable.  Furthermore, South African Culture inhibits firearm ownership by women.  These two factors mean that aspects of Lott’s Model relating to South African Women cannot be examined, at present.  However, this does not affect other parts of his model.

The other factors and statistics demonstrate that the only common factor which affects the drop in all types of murder rates, a reduction in the increase in armed robbery, a stabilisation of hijackings and other confrontational economic crimes is the increase in licensed firearm ownership.

The increasing ownership of licensed firearms in conjunction with the dropping of murder rates, especially handgun murder rates, further disproves the hypothesis that licensed firearms, and especially licensed handguns contribute to crime and violence.

A final discussion presented where it was shown that no evidence could be found to show that licensees are criminally minded because they own firearms, and that there was a real need for the private ownership for protection purposes.

 

 CONTENTS

  1. INTRODUCTION 
  2. REASONS WHY THE MURDER RATE SHOULD BE RISING
  1. RESEARCH BY ANTONY ALTBEKER
  1. CHANGES IN MURDER RATES AND FIREARM MURDER RATES FOR 1994 – 1999                                  
  1. LOTT’S MODEL –DETERRENCE TO ECONOMIC CONFRONTATIONAL CRIME
  1. CONCLUSIONS
  1. EPILOGUE
  1. REFERENCES


DOES THE LOTT MODEL APPLY TO SOUTH AFRICA? – AN INSPECTION OF THE LATEST MURDER RATES

 

1. INTRODUCTION

Murder rates are perhaps the best indicator of the violent crime which affects a country.  Murders have arguably the highest rate of being reported of all crimes.  The reporting rate is probably in the order of 93-98%.  It is doubtful that the rate of reporting any other crime in South Africa, except perhaps car theft (including hi-jacking), comes close to that.

Despite the anomaly of firearm murder rates rising and then falling for the six-month period prior to the general election of 1999, murder rates and firearm murder rates have fallen since 1994.  Even more interestingly, actual handgun murders have dropped from 9 144 to 7 183 (CIAC/SAPS), a drop from 81.75% to 59.80% of firearm murders.

Reported murders rose from 8 662 in 1974 to 26 832 in 1994 and have been steadily dropping since then to 24 210 in 1999 (CIAC/SAPS).  These figures do not take into account the rise in population, which will cause a dropping of rates, in themselves, and the possibility of poor or corrupted data gathering prior to 1994.  However, since 1994, murder rates and firearm murder rates, over the long term, have been steadily falling – why?

It was therefore decided to analyse the most recent data and compare it with relevant work by Antony Altbeker, other sociological factors and to put these new data into perspective.

It was realised that if allowances were made for South African culture, it would be possible to compare the currently available information with Professor John Lott’s Model – “More Guns, Less Crime”.

Each aspect is discussed, and conclusions drawn at the end.

 

2. REASONS WHY THE MURDER RATE SHOULD BE RISING

There are considerable reasons, mainly socio-economical, why the murder rates and other crimes should be rising.  These are listed below.

1) Lack of Respect for the Law – there is a general lack of respect of, and faith in the whole judicial process. The purpose of the Law is to allow society to arrest, try and punish (or incarcerate) a wrongdoer.  Research worldwide, but especially in the United States shows that the Law only acts as a deterrent if the criminal believes that s/he may get caught, and more importantly, if caught, the rate of convictions is high.

The arrest rate and the rate of convictions in this country are too low for the judicial system to act as a deterrent.  A criminal does not participate in a crime where s/he thinks that s/he will get caught!  This lack of respect for the Law removes inhibitions, which would inhibit wrongdoers.

2) Reductions in the Number of Police Personnel – The number of policemen and policewomen has been steadily dropping since 1995. Bureaucratic requirements have been increasing.  This means fewer personnel on the street, and less affective investigations.  This is less effective policing, and therefore less deterrence to crime.

3) Detectives work alone – this allows greater opportunity for corruption. Furthermore working in teams increases efficiency and allows detectives to discuss cases and thereby increase success rates.  Clever cops are involved in more cases.

4) Increasing urbanisation – urbanisation results in people living in more crowded conditions and settlements having larger populations. Both these factors increase stress.  This results in increased violence.  Increased populations result in increased availability of goods to rob and more places to hide, both of which causes an increase in crime.

Most urbanisation, in the underdeveloped world, is in the form of informal settlements (squatter camps).  There is a dramatic differential between the rich and the poor.

The poor seek to put food on the table, but the image of the very rich may dissuade some of these people from attempting to find honest employment (which may not always be available) and therefore they resort to crime, usually violent (it requires less skill).

Initially the intent may be to rob only the rich but this consideration soon drops away until anybody becomes a suitable candidate for robbery, especially their own people.  (The various reports by Antony Altbeker graphically demonstrate this, if one cares to read between the lines.)

5) Reduction in Employment – Actual numbers of employed positions have been dropping since 1995. With an increasing population, this results in ever increasing unemployment. (One only has to listen to COSATU)  This in turn, results in increasing rates of crime to put food on the table.

6) Loss of Hope – The reduction in employment in conjunction with increasing informal settlements has resulted, in some people, in a loss of hope and expectation. There was considerable expectation after the 1994 election, which has not been met.  This disappointment has undoubtedly resulted, in some, in a disregard for the Rule of Law, and a determination to ‘improve their lot’ by any means available.  Crime is the most obvious option.

7) Immigration of other African Criminals – Since 1994, RSA has opened her borders to other African nationals. This has resulted in criminals immigrating to his country, albeit mostly illegally.  However, this has resulted in an increase in the number of criminals, usually organised and violent, in this country.  This, in turn, increases the probability of crime and violence.

All these factors are considered as engines to drive an increase in violent crime, including murder rates and firearm murder rates.  These reasons, in themselves, would be sufficient to explain any rises in violent crimes without resorting to blaming legal ownership of firearms, yet murder rates and firearm murder rates are falling.

 

3. RESEARCH BY ANTONY ALTBEKER

Without doubt Antony Altbeker has attempted to put the highest integrity into his research.  He has ensured randomness in his research by analysing finalised SAPS dockets.  With the filing system that is currently available to the SAPS, there is absolutely no way dockets can be chosen for result.

Unfortunately, there does appear to be confusion between randomness and representativeness.  His research is based on analysis of dockets.  At best, his findings represent incidents, which were reported to the police.

Initial research (Anger 2000) in South Africa, and considerably more formal research in the US (e.g. Rand 1994, Kleck 1993)) indicates that if a firearm owner uses a firearm, but suffers no major loss, and is not witnessed, s/he will not report the incident to the SAPS.  Indeed non-firearm owners are unlikely to report non-serious (and sometimes serious) incidents to the police due to the belief that they will get no help from the police, nor will the criminal be caught.

Indeed, many people, under such circumstances, believe that the criminal is probably a friend of the cop concerned.  Such people do not want any more bother; they just want to get on with their lives.

3A. Are South Africans responsible Gun Owners? – Evidence from 1000 dockets

The following are aspects of a report, which required four research assistants and a considerable amount of hard work.  This research looked at the incidents of firearm theft and losses in Cape Town, Durban, Johannesburg and Nelspruit.  However, these are mostly criticisms relating to the unrepresentativeness of the data.  These criticisms also contain different interpretations, perhaps of a more worldly nature?

  1. Antony Altbeker fully admits that he has absolutely no idea how many people have resisted a confrontational crime with a firearm and then NOT reported it. The data does not support the conclusion that licensed firearm owners cannot protect their firearms since it is not known how many licensees successfully resisted a robbery, which could have involved the loss of their firearms, but did not report it.
  1. 13% of robberies of firearms were committed on policemen and soldiers (mostly cops, 98 out of 107) while 19% were carried out on security guards (a total of 32%, almost 1/3rd). It is submitted that this tells us that if a gangster wants a gun, all he has to do is to wait outside a shabeen until a uniformed cop or security guard staggers out, drunk, and then hit him over the back of the head with a brick and take his service pistol.  There is no need to rob sober persons in the street not knowing if they were armed or not and how they will react.  Not all violent criminals are idiots; otherwise they’d all be in prison.
  1. The criminal tells the victim to hand over his gun. This leads to the untenable assumption that the criminal is only after a ‘gun’.  It is submitted that:

a) the first thing that a criminal needs to do, is to ensure that a victim cannot defend him/herself, then he goes about searching the victim for valuables. Hence the first words spoken,” Give me your gun (weapon?).” It used to be “hands up” but this would attract too much attention, besides this is not the wild west.

b) the dockets state that often only a firearm was stolen. It is likely that the firearm was the only thing of real value that a victim possessed when only a firearm was taken. It would be the only item worth listing which a poor person has been robbed.

  1. Of the 298 694 firearms recovered in 1996-1998, no attempt had been made to determine how many of these firearms were used in a crime! Unfortunately, no attempt was made to use the results to disprove that the internationally researched conclusion that most criminals acquire a handgun to protect themselves from other criminals.

This research does not offer any evidence to show that this hypothesis is wrong.  It would have been useful if data were made available to determine, or at least discuss, the applicability of this hypothesis. [Also many people cannot afford a legal firearm or are confused by the very long, difficult, expensive and complicated process (they have no faith in the cops and yet wish to protect their loved ones and themselves).]

  1. The number of firearm robberies in townships was surprisingly high. This suggests that crime in townships is a lot worse than previously thought.  It suggests that firearm theft is reported because of the nature of the item stolen, but that other crimes are seriously under reported due to the lack of faith in the SAPS.  Perhaps, much more than previously thought.  This supports the hypothesis discussed in item 1, above. [Could this be the reason why kangaroo courts are springing up everywhere?  At least the victim gets attention and believes that s/he gets some justice and protection. (This is not to be taken as any support for vigilantism.)]
  1. A lot of thefts from safes are reported. Two aspects come to mind:

a) often only the firearm, or one firearm is stolen from the safe. No ammo, no valuables, no cash. This suggests that the firearm was lost or mislaid, and therefore the owner has made up the story to avoid prosecution, having otherwise lost the firearm.

b) media reports suggest that most thefts from safes occur under duress. The owner has to open the safe with a knife at his/her throat. As far as I am aware, it is extremely rare to hear about safes being broken onto. If they can’t get the key, they may kill the victim(s) in disgust.  This type of case shows flaws in the GFSA hypothesis that safes are of no effect.  Also it shows that the current regulations relating to safes are sufficient.

3B.  The Alexandra Report

This is a 1997 report relating to usage of firearms for self-protection purposes.  Again, analysis of dockets is used as the means to research this topic.

  1. Again, it is admitted that no attempt has been made to determine how many incidents of self-protection using a firearm occurred, which were not reported. This means that figures relating the probability of death or injury because of ownership or use of a firearm for defence are de facto academic inaccuracies.

These figures are not representative of the actual situation.  These numbers only refer to reported crimes where a docket was opened.  Given the nature of South Africa and South Africans, only unsuccessful defences are likely to result in the opening of a docket.

  1. What does come through is that those persons who carry a firearm should be aware of their surroundings if they wish to benefit from owning a firearm. Possession of a firearm in itself is insufficient defence.  Training by instructors from reputable civilian training organisations would solve that problem.
  1. The Alexandra report is extremely interesting with respect to the differences in sociology of two distinct cultural groups. It further confirms that violence is often associated with an excessive intake of alcohol.

Three aspects come through Antony Altbeker’s research:

  1. Despite real efforts to be unbiased, unrepresentative data can easily give rise to academically untrue results. In this case, the probability of injury of persons whose robbery became docketed has been transferred to all persons who attempts were made to rob and who were armed.  This is the same as saying; “All persons of a particular racial group are mad because all the inmates of a particular mental institution are of that racial group.”  This is obviously wrong, and so are the broad statements from Altbeker’s work.
  1. Far too many firearms are being lost or stolen. It should be pointed out that firearms are also lost from governmental and para-governmental institutions.  However, it is not only those who are fanatically opposed to non governmental persons legally owning firearms, but everybody else who believes that there should be less leakage.
  1. There is a considerable problem in encouraging police personnel to properly investigate and administer any firearm legislation. The boring bits are often ignored.  This leads to an arbitrary enforcement of the law, and to possible (indeed probable) misunderstanding of the legislation and therefore enforcement of non-existing legislation.  Even supporters of draconian legislation doubt whether it can be properly enforced, at present.

 

4. CHANGES IN MURDER RATES AND FIREARM MURDER RATES FOR 1994 – 1999

South African murder rates and firearm murder rates were calculated for the period 1994 -1999 using data from the CIAC/SAPS (Total No. of murders and No. of firearm murders – issued 03/10/99) and Statistics SA (Estimated mid-year population for South Africa).

Murder rates (per 100 000) versus licences (per 100 000), below, suggest an inverse relationship.  This can be tested by plotting the two data sets against one another.

/

1994

1995 1996 1997 1998 1999
Total Murders

 (CIAC)

26 832 26 637 25 782 24 588 24 875

 

24 210

 

Firearm Murders

(CIAC)

11 185

[*11 134]

10 731

[*11 056]

10 589

[*11 394]

11 179

[*11 215]

12 254

[*12 267]

12 011

 

Handgun Murders

(CIAC) 

9 144

 

9 019

 

6 696

 

6 590

 

7 032

 

7 183

 

Handgun Murders as a % of all firearm Murders 81.75% 84.05% 63.24% 58.95% 57.39% 59.80%
Estimated mid-year Population

(Statistics SA)

38.630m 39.477m 40.342m 41.227m 42.131 43.050
Total Murder

Rate per 100 000

69.458 67.475 63.908 59.641 59.043 56.237
Firearm Murder

Rate per 100 000

28.954

[*28.822]

27.183

[*28.006]

26.248

[*28.243]

27.108

[*27.302]

29.084

[*29.117]

27.900

 

Handgun Murder

Rate per 100 000

23.671 22.896 16.598 15.985 16.691 16.685

[* Figures issued by CIAC/SAPS in 1999 – live system. Defensive and other legitimate shootings are removed from figures as defendants declared not guilty?

[Estimates of Firearm Murder Rates using current population estimates and 1999 issued figures.

[It can readily be seen that with the exception of 1994, actual firearm murders and firearm murder rates are lower than figures issued in mid to late 1999.]

Lott 1
N.B. All lawfully owned firearms in South Africa are licensed, and this automatically allows the licensee to carry the firearm (a requirement is that the firearm MUST be concealed.)

Lott 2

The graph above, murder rates versus firearm licences clearly indicates that the major factor influencing the reduction in measurable confrontational crime is an increase in the ownership of firearms by law-abiding persons.

Lott 3

The firearm murder rate for 1999 has dropped over 1 per 100 000 since 1994. From 1994 to 1997 Firearm murder rates fell by over 1.75 per 100 000, a drop of almost 6.5% over the period, despite (or because of?) an increase of about 777963 new licenses issued (CGA 2000 F&F’s).  It is of importance to note that the percentage of firearm murders using handguns has dropped over the period 1994-1999 from 81.75% to 59.80%, a drop of 22%.  This is a real drop of 1961 handgun murders per year!

Lott 4
ADDENDUM 2005:
It should be noted that this graph is not representative of the reality of the situation.  Most defensive shootings in South Africa are undertaken using handguns.  It is police policy to prosecute defensive shootings as murder/attempted murder with the utmost vigour, unless investigation, or more usually the courts determine otherwise.
All homicides that occur as a result of defensive shootings are classified as murders until proven otherwise.  The figures are subsequently adjusted.  This can take up to three years.  Most recent figures (for any given year, when presented) will be reduced by ~10%+.  If this factor is considered, it can be seen that handgun murder rates are also falling, in real terms.

These comparative figures, in themselves, disprove the hypothesis that licensed firearms or their owners cause an increase in crime or violence.  Indeed these figures would suggest the very opposite!  Most new firearms licensees have bought handguns.  This also disproves the hypothesis that licensed ownership of handguns increases the number of murders.  These figures can only suggest that increasing licensed firearm ownership acts as an increasing deterrence against opportunistic confrontational crime.

There is a fall in firearm murder rates for 1999 to 27.900 from 29.084 in 1998.  This is a drop of over 1 per 100 000, despite the continuation of the KZN violence in late 1998 and early 1999 where mostly automatic weapons appeared to have been used.  Indeed, the last issued crime statement in August stated that murder rates for the first five months of 2000 showed a drop of 17+%, suggesting a significant drop in firearm murders for the same period, thus demonstrating that the various belligerencies of 1998/1999 probably caused a skewing of firearm murder rates for 1998 and 1999.

The firearms murder rate (including the effect of political violence and other belligerencies) dropped by over 1 per 100 000 with a 22% reduction in the usage of handguns, despite an estimated increase of over 1 million people who previously had not owned a licensed firearm, mostly handguns.

It should be expected that a proportion of violent criminals would substitute knives and clubs for guns as society armed itself to protect itself from these thugs.  Since they now possess these guns, society must expect criminals who do not wish to move away from confrontational crime (due to the status as hard men, the thrill? whatever) to use whatever tools they have at hand.  What is surprising is that the percentage of firearm murders as to total murders is not higher.  The problem is that firearms, especially handguns are an extremely inefficient method of killing someone.

The ‘experts’ have stated that handguns are the weapons of choice.  They still represent about 60% of firearm murders or 30% of all murders.  If they are the weapons of choice, given the number of leaked handguns from various sources, why has the actual number of handgun murders dropped since 1994.  If the ‘experts’ hypothesis were true, the actual number and rate of handgun murders would be expected to rise.

There must be a different explanation than that offered by those who are fanatical in their belief that licensed firearms, especially handguns cause violence.

 

5. LOTT’S MODEL – DETERRENCE TO ECONOMIC CONFRONTATIONAL CRIME

Section 3 showed considerable motivation for an increase in crime, especially economically motivated violent crime, yet the CIAC/SAPS murder statistics clearly show a reverse trend.  The Crimeinfo bulletin for 19th August 2000 states that:

  1. Murders have dropped by 17% for the first five months of this year.
  1. The rate of increase of armed robberies is dropping.
  1. The rate of hijacking of trucks and cars, bank robbery, robbery of cash-in-transit have all stabilised.
  1. Housebreaking and other thefts were on the increase.
  1. Domestic violence has increased.
  1. The rape rate has stabilised

 

Mainly Professor Lott of Yale University (previously University of Chicago, in conjunction with his colleague, Mustard 1999) and to a slightly lesser extent, Professor Kleck of Law at Florida University have conclusively shown, using 17 years of FBI statistics that an increase in the availability of legally owned firearms results in a reduction in confrontational crimes and an increase in non confrontational crimes.

[In the case of the US, Prof Lott, in particular, showed that this occurred for overall firearm ownership, but that this was particularly relevant when considering the legal carrying of concealed firearms.  In this country, a license (quite rightly) allows for and indeed prefers, the carry of a firearm in a concealed manner.]

In extremely simplistic terms, Lott’s model states that:

  1. Overall increase in legal firearms has an overall effect of reducing confrontational crime.
  1. The increased carrying of legalised firearms has a further increase in the overall effect of reducing confrontational crime.
  1. The increased ownership and carrying of firearms by women and persons living in poor/marginal environments has an even more dramatic effect on the reduction of murders and rapes.
  1. The effect of legal firearm ownership deters criminals from participating in confrontational crime and causes them to change to non confrontational crime, move away to an area of reduce firearm ownership and/or give up crime entirely.

The last available crime statistics tends to show this very trend.  All economic confrontational crimes are dropping, becoming stabilised or the rates of increase are dropping.  i.e. all the gradients of the lines showing economic confrontational crimes over time, are turning from positive to negative, if they haven’t already done so.

The previous section showed that the need for non-legal means of income is increasing because legal means are becoming more difficult.  [You have to feed the kids, somehow.]  Lott showed that criminals, in the US, substituted economic confrontational crime for non-confrontational crime, such as housebreaking, for two main reasons:

  1. Policing and the criminal justice system was perceived as being so effective that the criminal would be caught and imprisoned, and
  1. There was an increasing probability that the victim would be armed and that the criminal would be injured or killed during an attack.

 

Section 3 showed that perceptions of police and judicial effectiveness is at an extremely low level.

This only leaves the deterrence of a victim with a concealed firearm.  Criminals know that there has been an increase of about 150 000 new licensed firearm owners per year since 1994.  The probabilities of a victim being able to defend him/herself is ever increasing.

Dr. Rand of the US Justice Department (1994) showed that at least as many violent crimes were stopped by the victim because s/he has a firearm as were actually reported.  Anger R. (2000) has shown a similar trend in this country.

[No-one knows the number of effective defences since 1994.  The only detailed work undertaken has been done predominantly by Antony Altbeker.  This has been undertaken by studies on dockets, where the defence failed.  Successful defenders do not report successful defence incidents to the police, and unsuccessful criminals aren’t going to, either!]

The incidence of domestic violence would seem to act as an argument against this hypothesis.  However, it is not known if domestic violence is on the increase or if (as the Commissioner believes) that a greater degree of reporting is taking place.

Domestic violence tends to be related to the economy but, in particular, to people’s incomes and individual status.  Domestic violence, suicides, family suicides and killings are all related to this.

The previous section would give considerable motivation for any increase in such unhappy crimes.  Furthermore, work undertaken by CIAC showed that almost all such crimes were further exacerbated by excessive intakes of alcohol.  [In many cases, intake of alcohol is the only recreational activity open to many poor people – the very people who are most affected by the reducing economy.]  Such violence is likely to occur with the results, irrespective of weapon used.

Domestic violence does not involve theft.  It is the effect of an unhappy social situation.

Rape statistics, at first glance, would also appear to contradict the model, with the rate remaining stable.  (Most rapists use the threat of a knife or bodily force.)  However, as with domestic violence, the rate of reporting is unknown and may be increasing, while the actual rape rate is falling.  At this stage, this cannot be proven one way or the other.  A further factor is the culture of this country.

The majority of new firearm licensees are from the previously disenfranchised population.  However, very few of these new licensees are women.  Both European, Indian and indigenous cultures in conjunction with the pressure from various groups which seem to wish to keep these women subservient and victimised.

Certainly those pressure organisations wish these women to be subservient to their liberal (sic?) views.  It’s possible that these organisations feel that they would be out of a job if these women grasped control of their own lives.  A legally armed woman is not going to be a slave to anybody, mentally or physically!

Lott found that there were dramatic reductions in rape and domestic violence with increasing legitimate ownership and concealed carrying of firearms by women.  It is likely that this would also be the case in this country.  Encouragement of the arming of women may the best catalyst to encourage women to demand and acquire their unattained Constitutional and social Rights.

If one considers the cultural restraints on women of all cultures in South Africa from possessing firearms, the statistics relating to domestic violence and rape do not therefore influence the effect of firearms and economically confrontational crime relating to Lott’s model.

Factor No. 3, in the model, relating to women, simply does not come into force, since women, in general have to rely on men for effect protection.  When they are alone, or are in a situation of abuse by their partner, they are unprotected from violent attack.  The incidents (and therefore the statistics) of rape and domestic violence are therefore unaffected by increased legal ownership of firearms in this country.

The Lott’s Model relating to legal firearm ownership and confrontational economic crime within the South African context, would appear to still remain viable.

 

6. CONCLUSIONS

  1. The root causes of violent economic crimes are increasing and should, all things being otherwise equal, result in increasing economic confrontational crimes and other crimes of violence.
  1. Current policing methods and the current criminal justice system do not act as a deterrent to violent crime.
  1. On the basis of crime statistics from 1994 -1999 and in particular on the most recently issued and estimated statistics, there is a move away from confrontational economic crimes towards non-confrontational crimes for gain.
  1. Available domestic violence and sex crime statistics do not indicate that licensed firearm ownership increase these rates. Indeed the reverse may be true, given the culture and sociology of the majority of victims in these crimes.  Alcohol is still a significant factor relating to violence.
  1. There is absolutely no evidence that an increase in licensed firearm ownership increases crime. Again, the reverse is most likely true.

The statistics in no way show that licensed firearm owners, who currently have to go through an extremely long, difficult and expensive process to be granted a licence, are in any way comparable with gun-toting gangsters who get access to illegal guns and who then commit acts of violence for gain and pleasure.

  1. Total murder rates, firearm murder rates and especially handgun murder rates have all dropped since 1994, despite the propaganda put out by those who do not believe that violence is the problem, but have the fanatical belief that it is legalised ownership of firearms, especially handguns, which causes most of the evil in the world.

The number of handgun murders has dropped by 2% per year, on average, since 1994 for an increase of about 150 000 new licensees per year, mostly for handguns.  This is consistent with Lott’s Model.

The Government issued statistics show that economic crime habits are well within Professor John Lott’s model of ‘more legal firearm owners results in less confrontational crime’.  This has been due to the annual increase of about 150 000 new licensees every year since 1994; most of these new handgun licensees are from the previously disenfranchised population.

 

7. EPILOGUE

The whole issue of private firearm ownership in the context of crime, (there are other constitutional contexts) comes down to two questions:

  • Does the existence of private licensed firearms cause an increase in violent crime, or not? and,
  • Can the police protect not just society, but the individuals that make up society, and if not, should law abiding people be able to protect their loved ones, themselves and others from illegal violent attack?

As to the first question? All the evidence in this paper would tend to demonstrate that the reverse trend is true.  Despite the leakages and the few abuses by licensees, private licensed ownership of firearms appears to cause a reduction in all forms of criminal violence where they can be used defensively.  All type of murder rates are dropping.  Handgun murders have dropped dramatically.

No evidence has been presented, or found, to show that licensed firearm owners are as dangerous to society as gun-toting gangsters; nor could any evidence be found to show that a total removal of licensed firearms will have any effect in stopping violent crime!

In some ways, the second question is more complex.

The duty of the police is to protect society.  It is not to protect individuals unless you are a politician or on the witness protection program for the duration of the trial.  Police personnel have been ambushed, not always for their guns, police stations raided for firearms and valuables and satellite police stations abandoned through fear of attack and/or criminal activity.  It is therefore obvious that the police service cannot always look after itself or its members, let alone the public.

If the SAPS were successful in protecting the public, there would be no crimes of violence.  There are, so they aren’t.  Common Sense really.  If the authorities cannot or will not protect individuals and maintain their Right to Life and Freedom from Violence, who will?  The authorities have therefore de facto delegated this problem to the potential victims themselves – YOU.

Therefore, should not those who wish to take on this burden, not be allowed to do so, using whatever means and tools that are available to the authorities within these national boundaries?

All the scientific evidence shows that licensed firearms are an overall benefit in the fight against criminal violence.

Yet, despite them causing a reduction in murder rates, it would therefore appear that licensed firearms, especially licensed handguns are the butt of a paranoid fear which refuses to face reality, and which manifests itself in a hatred of those who are prepared to protect themselves and others if the need arises.

There is therefore a need for everyone involved in this debate to look at the scientific analysis of the statistics, rather than their emotions or apocryphal stories; but remembering that statistical data sets must be truthful, representative and comparable.

 

8. REFERENCES

Altbeker A, Guns and Public Safety: Gun-crime and self defence in Alexandra and Bramley, January – April 1997 Gun Free SA, Date of Publication Not Given

Altbeker A, Presentation of: Are South Africans Responsible Gun Owners? Evidence from 1000 Police Dockets, 19/ 09/2000

Crimeinfo bulletin for 19th August 2000

Crime Information Analysis Centre, SAPS Statistics: Murder Rates 1994 – 1999, issued 03/10/2000

Gun Free South Africa Statistics Sheet, July 1999

Lott JR Jnr., More guns, less crime, University of Chicago Press, 1998

Rand MR, Handgun Victimization, Firearm Self-Defense, and Firearm Theft, US Department of Justice,1994

The Constitution of The Republic of South Africa, 1996  (Act 108 of 1996)


DOCUMENT – Testing the Lott Model, R. Wesson 2005

6 thoughts on “More Guns, Less Crime: Does the Lott Model Work in South Africa?

  1. And before anyone starts questioning the Lott research and attempting to discredit it on the basis of the original datasets that went missing (and the shrill screeching that promptly started from the harpies of the liberal-left and the MSM in America), be advised that Lott did what any proper researcher would do. He dumped his original report and reconducted all the original research from scratch.

    You see, Lott is a researcher with credibility, unlike local researchers who may have tried to rely on publication in overseas-based journals for peer-review purposes in the hope that those overseas-based journals would not know that the FCA of 2000 was actually only primarily implemented in 2004, and so their claims of the beneficial impact of the Act could not possibly be valid for the period 2000-2005. Just by the way…

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Indeed, Paul: ‘On April 10, 2006, John Lott filed suit[51] for defamation against Steven Levitt and HarperCollins Publishers over the book Freakonomics and against Levitt over a series of emails to John McCall. In the book Freakonomics, Levitt and coauthor Stephen J. Dubner claimed that the results of Lott’s research in More Guns, Less Crime had not been replicated by other academics. In the emails to economist John McCall, who had pointed to a number of papers in different academic publications that had replicated Lott’s work, Levitt wrote that the work by several authors supporting Lott in a special 2001 issue of the Journal of Law and Economics had not been peer reviewed, Lott had paid the University of Chicago Press to publish the papers, and that papers with results opposite of Lott’s had been blocked from publication in that issue.[52]

    A federal judge found that Levitt’s replication claim in Freakonomics was not defamation but found merit in Lott’s complaint over the email claims.[53]

    Levitt settled the second defamation claim by admitting in a letter to John McCall that he himself was a peer reviewer in the 2001 issue of the Journal of Law and Economics, that Lott had not engaged in bribery (paying for extra costs of printing and postage for a conference issue is customary), and that he knew that “scholars with varying opinions” (including Levitt himself) had been invited to participate.[54][55] The Chronicle of Higher Education characterized Levitt’s letter as offering “a doozy of a concession.”[56]’

    Like

  3. Send this to Guy Lamb.

    Once again, we’ll here about “discredited”. Lott made two mistakes, losing his data set and praising himself in the form of Mary Rosh.

    The dataset was lost but the study replicated from scratch. All of Lott’s data is available for peer review, unlike his opponents like Hemenway. Mary Rosh was a remarkably dumb thing to do, but hardly grounds to discredit his research. In any event, these happened in the 1990s, and he is now 20 years past those times and despite untold millions being spent on trying to come up with counter-research, the gun control lobby has failed.

    But research like this has to be thrust into every single media house’s inbox, so that when they (once again) parrot GFSA propaganda, they can be pulled up for fake news.

    Like

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s