Does ``more guns'' mean an increase in the gun stock?

There is another interpretation of the phrase ``more guns''--it could refer to the gun stock (the total number of guns in private hands). This isn't a very useful measure, since if a gun owner purchases another gun the gun stock increases, but there is no increase in the availability of guns. Perhaps for this reason, Lott is not referring to the size of the gun stock when he writes ``more guns''.

Since the gun stock can only increase, if by ``more guns'' you mean an increase in the gun stock, whether ``more guns'' are associated with ``less crime'' or ``more crime'' depends on whether crime rates went up or down. Since the US crime rate has been declining in the last few years, but the long term trend has been upwards, you can have ``more guns, more crime'' if you look in the long term, or ``more guns, less crime'' if you look at the short term. This is another reason why it is not useful to have ``more guns'' refer to the size of the gun stock.

Tim Lambert