Researching the link between gun prevalence and crime is inherently tricky. When society itself is your laboratory, it’s almost impossible to properly account for confounding variables that might skew the results. All sorts of factors, ranging from unemployment to alcohol use, can get in the way.
Acknowledging the limitations of current research on the link between gun ownership and crime, Florida State University criminologist Gary Kleck sorted through dozens of studies to first separate the best from the worst, and then determine what the strongest studies tell us. His efforts were recently published in the Journal of Criminal Justice.
“All research is flawed, and all bodies of research are incomplete,” Kleck noted, “but that does not mean we cannot distinguish the less flawed work from the more flawed, and draw tentative conclusions based on the best available research conducted so far.”
Kleck included 41 studies that examined the association between measured gun levels and crime rate in his analysis, then used three specific criteria to gauge the strength of the studies.