Preferences for Firearms and Their Implications for Regulation
This paper estimates consumer demand for firearms with the aim of predicting the likely impacts of firearm regulations on the number and types of guns in circulation. We first conduct a stated-choice-based conjoint analysis and estimate an individual-level demand model for firearms. We validate our estimates using aggregate moments from observational data. Next, we use our estimates to simulate changes in the number and types of guns in circulation under alternative regulations. Importantly, we find that bans or restrictions that specifically target “assault weapons” increase demand for handguns, which are associated with the vast majority of firearm-related violence. We provide distributions of consumer surplus under counterfactuals and discuss how those distributions could be useful for crafting policy.
The paper acknowledges funding from the Becker Friedman Institute - IO program as well as the True North faculty research fund and the Robert King Steel fund at the University of Chicago Booth School of Business. The views expressed herein are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Bureau of Economic Research.