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Letters |

Impact of the Brady Act on Homicide and Suicide Rates—Reply

Jens Ludwig, PhD; Philip J. Cook, PhD
JAMA. 2000;284(21):2718-2721. doi:10.1001/jama.284.21.2717.
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In Reply: Dr Lott's econometric suggestions are problematic. It is well known that arrest rates have a spurious negative correlation with the crime rate, since the latter constitutes the denominator of the former.1 Introducing an "independent" variable that is codetermined with the dependent variable will generally bias all coefficient estimates.

Due to data limitations, Lott's suggestion to examine the effects of the Brady Act on other crimes such as rape is not feasible. State-level data for these crimes are not available disaggregated by the age of the victim or offender. Based on the specification test reported in our study for gun homicides, we concluded that comparing trends in Brady Act "treatment" and "control" states using data for victims of all ages will produce biased results. Since the Brady Act was not targeted at stopping sales to underage buyers, our approach was to focus on homicides in which the shooter was aged 21 years and older. For homicides among victims aged 21 years and older during 1990 to 1998, in fully 78% of cases in which there was a known suspect, the suspect was aged at least 21 years. Contrary to the assertion of Drs Kleck and Marvell, the corresponding figure for victims younger than 21 years was only 49%.2


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