In the wake of a monstrous crime like a madman’s mass murder of defenseless women and children at the Newtown, Conn., school, the nation’s attention is riveted on what could have been done to prevent such a massacre.
William Landes at the University of Chicago and John Lott at Yale studied multiple-victim public shootings in the United States between 1977 and 1995 to see how various legal changes affected the frequency and death toll. They examined many of the policies being proposed in response to the Connecticut massacre: waiting periods and background checks for guns, the death penalty and increased penalties for committing a crime with a gun.
None of these policies had any effect on the frequency of, or carnage from, multiple-victim shootings. Only one policy has been shown to reduce the death rate from such crimes: concealed-carry laws.