Firearms and Lynching

I love this paper by Mike Makowsky and Patrick Warren because it pokes so many bears. Makowsky and Warren find that greater access to firearms in the Black community reduced the rate of lynching in the Jim Crow South.

We assess firearms as a means of Black self-defense in the Jim Crow South. We infer firearm access by race and place by measuring the fraction of suicides committed with a firearm. Corroborating anecdotal accounts and historical claims, state bans on pistols and increases in White law enforcement personnel served as mechanisms to disarm the Black community, while having no comparable effect on White firearms. The interaction of these mechanisms with changing national market prices for firearms provides us with a credible identification strategy for Black firearm access. Rates of Black lynching decreased with greater Black firearm access.

Lots of black civil rights leaders were heavily armed but this is rarely mentioned let alone emphasized.



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