Credible evidence is lacking that “right-to-carry” handgun laws or violence-prevention programs involving firearms and kids work to reduce crime or misuse of guns, an expert panel said today. There are more than 80 prevention programs, including the National Rifle Association’s Eddie Eagle Gun Safety Program. The report concluded that research linking guns to criminal violence and suicide is hampered by a lack of credible data on who owns firearms and their use. The panel, chaired by criminologist Charles Wellford of the Univeristy of Maryland, said that a comprehensive research program on firearms if needed if anticrime policy is to have a sound basis.
The report was issued after more than three years of study by the Committee on Law and Justice of the National Research Council, which is associated with the National Academy of Sciences. The results will disappoint the NRA, which supports “right-to-carry” laws on the books in 34 states that allow qualified adudlts to carry concealed handguns. Committee member James Q. Wilson of UCLA issued a dissent arguing that studies by researcher John Lott indicates that the laws “do in fact help drive down the murder rate.” Other committee members said the scientific evidence does not support Wilson and Lott’s view.