Imagine No Guns? No Thanks

In a world without guns, the young and strong, and those who have time to master other weapons, utterly dominate the weak and defenseless. Is it better to arm the few against the many, or the many against the few? The answer depends, in large part, on whether you believe that the many prefer peace, or Hobbesian warfare.

Carlisle E. Moody has published a working paper, Firearms and the Decline of Violence in Europe: 1200-2010, which tends to support the latter hypothesis.

Abstract

Personal violence has declined substantially in Europe from 1200-2010. The conventional wisdom is that the state’s monopoly on violence is the cause of this happy result. I find some evidence that does not support this hypothesis. I suggest an alternative hypothesis that could explain at least some of the reduction in violence, namely that the invention and proliferation of compact, concealable, ready-to-use firearms caused potential assailants to recalculate the probability of a successful assault and seek alternatives to violence. I use structural change models to test this hypothesis, and find breakpoints consistent with the invention of certain firearms.

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