What is the social cost of gun ownership?

Via @JustinWolfers, finally we can see some numbers, provided by Philip J. Cook and Jens Ludwig:

This paper provides new estimates of the effect of household gun prevalence on homicide rates, and infers the marginal external cost of handgun ownership. The estimates utilize a superior proxy for gun prevalence, the percentage of suicides committed with a gun, which we validate. Using county- and state-level panels for 20 years, we estimate the elasticity of homicide with respect to gun prevalence as between +0.1 and + 0.3. All of the effect of gun prevalence is on gun homicide rates. Under certain reasonable assumptions, the average annual marginal social cost of household gun ownership is in the range $100 to $1800.

By no means should you take this as the last word, but it is one place to start.


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