Research / BFI Working PaperAug 23, 2022

Preferences for Firearms and Their Implications for Regulation

Sarah Moshary, Brad Shapiro, Sara Drango

This paper estimates consumer demand for firearms with the aim of evaluating the likely impacts of firearm regulations. 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.

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