Reporting on Greenleaf, Idaho, which just passed a statute "calling for its citizens to own guns and keep them ready in their homes in case of emergency," Reynolds writes that
Greenleaf is following in the footsteps of Kennesaw, Ga., which in
1982 passed a mandatory gun ownership law in response to a handgun ban
passed in Morton Grove, Ill. Kennesaw’s crime dropped sharply, while
Morton Grove’s did not.
To some degree, this is rational.
Criminals, unsurprisingly, would rather break into a house where they
aren’t at risk of being shot. As David Kopel noted in a 2001 article in
The Arizona Law Review, burglars report that they try to avoid homes
where armed residents are likely to be present. We see this phenomenon
internationally, too, with the United States having a lower proportion
of “hot” burglaries — break-ins where the burglars know the home to be
occupied — than countries with restrictive gun laws.
While I oppose statutes that mandate gun ownership, these statutes do strike me as being more consistent with the ‘public-goods‘ rationale for state action than is most of what government does — and certainly more consistent with this rationale than are statutes that prevent peaceful people from owning guns.