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NRA claim about Crime and Right-to-Carry States: Is it True? (Fact Check)

Yesterday, I noticed the recent Twitter posting of a disgraced former GOP chair:

“In right-to-carry states the violent crime rate is 24% lower than the rest of the US and the murder rate is 28% lower.”

A quick look at the latest available Uniform Crime Reports shows that this claim is not true. But I thought it odd that a Republican party figure would come up with an incorrect figure that was so spectacularly incorrect. Where’d he get it from, I wondered?

It turns out the original source is none other than the National Rifle Association Institute for Legislative Action. The NRA’s full claim:

“In 2007, RTC states had lower violent crime rates, on average, compared to the rest of the country (total violent crime by 24%; murder, 28%; robbery, 50%; and aggravated assault, 11%).”

This gives the NRA a possible out: while the claim is no longer true, perhaps it was true in 2007. Let’s visit Table 5 from the FBI’s Crime in the United States 2007 and find out using standard Uniform Crime Reports data.

In 2007, “Right-to-Carry” laws regarding firearms were in effect in 39 states (including the 2 “unrestricted” states in the map below). Those states allowed concealed weapons to be carried without vetting by law enforcement officials. 11 states, in contrast, had some form of limited or full legal restrictions regarding guns:

2007 right to carry laws map

To obtain the violent crime rate per 100,000 population for the 39 “Right-to-Carry” states, take the number of violent crimes reported in all of those states (931,088) in the 2007 Uniform Crime Reports, divide by the population of those states (199,779,684) in 2007, and multiply by 100,000. The result is a rate of 466.1 violent crimes per 100,000 population.

Following the same method for the 11 other states (468,929 reported violent crimes and 101,253,181 population), the 2007 violent crime rate was 463.1 per 100,000 population. The violent crime rate in 2007 was 0.6% higher in “right-to-carry” states, not 24% lower.

Repeat the process for the murder rate per 100,000: in the 39 “Right-to-Carry” states (11,520 murders and 199,779,684 population), the 2007 murder rate was 5.77 per 100,000 population. In the 11 other states (5,228 murders and 101,253,181 population), the 2007 murder rate was 5.16 per 100,000 population. The 2007 murder rate was 11.7% higher in “right-to-carry” states, not 28% lower. The NRA strikes out again.

Repeat the process for the robbery rate per 100,000: in the 39 “Right-to-Carry” states (272,966 robberies and 199,779,684 population), the 2007 robbery rate was 136.63 per 100,000 population. In the 11 other states (167,898 robberies and 101,253,181 population), the 2007 robbery rate was 165.82 per 100,000 population. The 2007 robbery rate was 17.4% lower in “right-to-carry” states, not 50% lower. This is the closest the NRA comes to being correct, but the NRA’s claim is still far off.

Repeat the process for the aggravated assault rate per 100,000: in the 39 “Right-to-Carry” states (579,317 aggravated assaults and 199,779,684 population), the 2007 assault rate was 289.98 per 100,000 population. In the 11 other states (272,853 aggravated assaults and 101,253,181 population), the 2007 assault rate was 269.48 per 100,000 population. The 2007 aggravated assault rate was 7.6% higher in “right-to-carry” states, not 11% lower. The NRA is wrong yet again.

All right, so we know the National Rifle Association has been spreading bogus statistics about “right-to-carry” states. But there’s something more that gnaws at me. The four components of the Uniform Crime Reports violent crime rate in 2007 were murders, robberies, aggravated assaults and rapes. Why didn’t the NRA include the rape statistic in its utterly false quip? Perhaps because according to the Uniform Crime Reports (use the method I’ve cited here and check my facts) the rate of rape in “right-to-carry” states was actually 48.6% higher in right-to-carry states than other states.

One last fact: counts of violent crimes aren’t all the FBI collects with its Uniform Crime Reports. It collects counts of property crimes, too. It turns out the rate of property crime in “right to carry” states was 29.9% higher than in other states in 2007.

In short, the National Rifle Association’s “facts” about the crime rate and right-to-carry laws in 2007 are just about as wrong as possible. Reasonable parties to a political discussion can disagree about the effectiveness or reasonableness of gun laws. Reasonable parties should not report falsehoods.

1 comment to NRA claim about Crime and Right-to-Carry States: Is it True? (Fact Check)

  • Bill

    You lost me at the headline, Jim. With the co-occurrence of “NRA” and “is it true?” I figgered I pretty much knew the answer going in.

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