(This post originally appeared at NRA-ILA and is reprinted here with permission)

The anti-gun press couldn’t contain their excitement. A new study published in the UK’s prestigious The Lancet medical journal purported to show that certain gun control measures could lead to incredible reductions in the firearm mortality rate. CNN blared, “Study: 3 federal laws could reduce gun deaths by more than 90%,” the L.A. Times touted, “Aiming to drive down gun deaths? Put these three laws on the books, researchers say,” and the Christian Science Monitor proclaimed, “Federal gun control laws could reduce deaths up to 90 percent, study says.” What these outlets weren’t anticipating . . .

is that the study has proven so flawed that the most influential members of the anti-gun research community have been forced to denounce it; lest the public realize the larger problems attendant to the entire field of study.

The controversial study is titled, “Firearm legislation and firearm mortality in the USA: a cross-sectional, state-level study,” and was authored by a team led by epidemiologist Bindu Kalesan of Boston University’s Department of Medicine and School of Public Health. The researchers attempted to determine the effects that more than two dozen different types of gun control measures – ranging from fingerprinting requirements to child access laws – had on homicide mortality, suicide mortality, and overall firearm mortality rates. As has been the focus of the laudatory news items, the researchers concluded that implementation of a federal “universal” background check law, in concert with federal ammunition background checks and “firearm identification requirements,” could reduce overall firearm mortality by more than 90 percent.

Unsurprisingly, most media outlets have given less attention to the research team’s findings pertaining to a host of other gun controls. The team found many gun control measures have little, no, or even a detrimental effect on firearm mortality rates.

According to the study, gun dealer licensing, dealer state record reporting requirements, dealer police inspections, gun owner fingerprinting, closing of the “gun show loophole,” ammunition purchaser recordkeeping, child handgun restrictions, child access laws, juvenile handgun purchases, magazine bans, and may-issue carry permits, have little to no effect on firearm-related deaths. Further, their results show, semi-auto bans, firearms locks, “bulk purchase limitations,” and mandatory theft reporting, increase firearm-related deaths.

Likely fearing the flawed study will result in a massive backlash that could further expose the shortcomings of their own work, the anti-gun research community has turned on Kalesan, her team, and The Lancet.

Daniel Webster, director of the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health’s Center for Gun Policy and Research, told the Washington Post, “Briefly, this is not a credible study and no cause and effect inferences should be made from it.” Webster is later quoted, stating, “What I find both puzzling and troubling is this very flawed piece of research is published in one of the most prestigious scientific journals around… Something went awry here, and it harms public trust.”

David Hemenway, director of the Harvard Injury Control Research Center, said of the findings, “That’s too big — I don’t believe that.” Pouring cold water on the schemes of politicians peddling gun controls as societal cure-alls, Hemenway went on to tell the Post, “These laws are not that strong. I would just be flabbergasted; I’d bet the house if you did [implement] these laws, if you had these three laws and enforced them really well and reduced gun deaths by 10 percent, you’d be ecstatic.” Offering a glimpse into the broader deficiencies of the field, Hemenway told U.S. News & World Report, “I could find serious problems with virtually any U.S. study about gun laws.”

This bout of public infighting and candid admissions as to the credibility of the entire field of gun violence research should give the public and policymakers pause when presented with studies supporting further gun restrictions. As Webster so eloquently alluded to, the peer-review process and stature of a journal offer little indication of the veracity of its contents when it comes to the politically-charged topic of gun control. Further, this episode provides important evidence as to why NRA works with federal lawmakers to ensure that this type of shoddy and politically motivated research is not federally funded through the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. It is bad enough that such defective anti-gun research finds its way into distinguished publications, without forcing the taxpayer to foot the bill.

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51 Responses to Flawed Study from the Prestigious Lancet Exposes Broader Problems in Anti-Gun Research

  1. It’s amazing what missing a decimal point or two can do to your reputation, isn’t it?

    Or maybe not. It’d be interesting to see what the authors’ grant records are in five or so years.

  2. This made the front page of Reddit a few days ago. Saw it, read a bit, knew it was hogwash in minutes. Too bad not everyone bothers to read before they upvote.

    • both reddit and imgur are HUGE emotionally driven communities of the web. I do enjoy the interesting gifs and sciency stuff.

    • “According to the study, gun dealer licensing, dealer state record reporting requirements, dealer police inspections, gun owner fingerprinting, closing of the “gun show loophole,” ammunition purchaser recordkeeping, child handgun restrictions, child access laws, juvenile handgun purchases, magazine bans, and may-issue carry permits, have little to no effect on firearm-related deaths. Further, their results show, semi-auto bans, firearms locks, “bulk purchase limitations,” and mandatory theft reporting, increase firearm-related deaths.”
      DO as the Anti’s do…Quote these “Facts” everywhere and as often as you can. A (proven) flawed study NEVER stopped the anti’s from selectively using its data. We’re still hearing about the 40% of guns sold w/o a background check nonsense.

      • I take the sign posted at my local pizza place as a “no desert eagles” sign. Fortunately, I don’t own a desert eagle.

        • The signs where I went to college clearly show a ban on full size CZ-75Bs. Fortunately I carry the compact CZ-75 PCR, so I was good. 😛

  3. Putting 3, or 3000, laws “on the books” will not stop a *SINGLE* gun death, they will do absolutely nothing unless someone pays attention to them. If I pay attention to them, they will STILL not stop a single gun death, since I am not killing people *now*, and there is no reason to expect I will in the future. So, someone who is going to become a killer, or who already is a killer, would need to pay attention to them before they accomplished anything regarding “gun deaths”, and that is unlikely, why would a killer give a loose stool about your silly law? These people cannot possibly be that stupid, this is simply feathering their own nests, looking for more and more justification for more and more lucrative “studies” to be funded, financing their extravagant lifestyles for ever more decades, who cares if nothing else is accomplished by the millions of taxpayer dollars involved? It’s all free!

    • BUT BUT BUT… murder with gunz is extra murdery! Also teh suicide with gunz (let’s mix those in for good measure) are way more suicidy than suicide by other means!

      BECAUSE GUNZ!! FOR THE CHILDREN!! IF IT SAVES ONE L.. BLAAUGH!! *cue spontaneous vomiting*

      Sorry guys, I just couldn’t do it. Not even for satire can I repeat horrible excuse for logic.

  4. From the same prestigious publication that gave you the study linking Autism to childhood vaccines.
    Subsequently discredited but the harm has already been done.

  5. Ok, I was wondering when ttag would get around to this one. I read this the day it came out and the first thing I thought was “what the f&$k were the reviewers thinking?” I know this community is scornful of academic research and the process of peer review is certainly not perfect, but the degree of failure by the academics and reviewers for the lancet is highly atypical (I’m a graduate student and live in this publishing world, though my specialty has nothing to do with policy analysis whatsoever). The integrated gun lock law from Maryland was associated with a 2.4ish fold increase in firearm fatalities, a curious… Wait, no, a nonsensical conclusion. Worse, one of the strongest predictions of the model was an increase in fatalities as the result of mandatory theft reporting, another nonsensical conclusion. This immediately calls into question all of the conclusions of the model and indicates that their data or their model assumptions were garbage. The most pathetic part is they do nothing in the body of the paper to address these shortcomings. Statistics are powerful and they can be used to suss out meaningful conclusions from the poorly constructed natural experiments that are the only option to analyze things like policy effectiveness. When done properly. This does not discredit any other paper on statistical models, even ones concerning gun policies. They do that (or fail to do that) on their own merits and flaws individually.

  6. I would also like to point out that part of the reason the state of analysis is so abysmal is due mostly to unreliable or sparsely recorded data and lack of funding for analysis. One of the most inexplicable things is the NRAs opposition to any funding going towards researching this stuff. Don’t we want good data leading to strong conclusions to get rid of stupid laws like suppressor restrictions? Like gun free zones? Also, this paper discloses no outside funding, so taxpayers weren’t footing the bill on this pile of trash.

    • Not sure that the NRA opposes all funding for all research relating to firearms. As a matter of fact, I’m pretty sure they would be ecstatic to see John Lott and Gary Kleck get tons of funding. The NRA does oppose specifically funding anti-gun advocacy masquerading as “research”.

    • To give you an idea what may happen: Bloomberg gave Johns Hopkins University $1 Billion to name its School of Public Health after him (which it did) , and it and Mr. Webster soon became leading academics in the anti-gun crusade. Oh really? Are we surprised! Bloomberg also funds David Hemenway at Harvard School of Public Health, and he too is an anti-gun crusader. Do tell! So just what do you think the CDC, currently headed by an Obama appointee and prior anti-gun advocate, will do with millions of dollars of federal tax dollars? Is there any question that the results will be determined before the data is gathered?

    • From what I read, the reason funding was cut to the CDC for their gun violence “research” was because they were being less than truthful with the results. Much like this “study”.

      • Actually, this study was very truthful with the results in that all of the garbage results were, in fact, published, allowing me to read it and immediately conclude it was garbage. They didn’t fabricate statistics, they just came up with statistics that were useless and came to ludicrous conclusions.

    • Can’t recall ever seeing “fleecing taxpayers to fund nonsensical pseudoscience” as one of government’s enumerated powers.

      Progressivism depends on obfuscation, commonly carried out, knowingly or not, via the pretense that empiricism is a valid methodology by which to perform social science. Largely because those with the brains to realize it’s not, are in the hard sciences, instead of wallowing with the morons over in the mucky side of the pond.

      Over the past 3 decades, “statistics packages” a la SAS/SPSS, and massive data collection (spying) have allowed any old half-literate-but-won’t-let-that-stop-them wannabe academic hacks to stuff an inordinate amount of pointless numbers into “their computer”, and get some impressive sounding Latin words and characters back out. Which the rest of public school indoctrinated dumbdom have been told makes it “sientificciiii.”

      The appropriate response to this kind of idiocy, is to defund all and anyone stupid enough to stoop low enough to be involved in any of it. Not give them more “data” they don’t understand, to confuse themselves and their fellow idiots with.

  7. One word: California. Did these stupid laws stop Santa Barbara or San Bernardino??? I think not!

    As a public service, we should offer free ice packs for the blue balls (or blue ovaries) of all these anti-gun hoplophobes.

  8. Saw the headlines a few days back and just dismissed it as another fabrication of the hoplophobes on the far left. They can’t admit that as more and more good people carry firearms legally that many of the criminals have moved on to less dangerous methods of supporting themselves. Getting shot by your intended victim is just no fun at all!

  9. Lancet is a science-based, peer-reviewed journal. In other words, a community circle jerk all drinking the same kool-aid.

  10. Isn’t this the same journal that said that the sanctions against Iraq in the 1990s had caused eleventy billion Iraqis to die?

  11. And how legitimate do you think the safety and efficacy of pharmaceutical product studies are in these same journals? Where do you think the funding for these “studies” comes from? BTW, emailed the actual “study” to TTAG last week.

  12. What constitutes firearm identification requirements? How is knowing whether the criminal is going to shoot you/ shot someone else with a 38 special or a 1911 Colt 45 going to make a difference to you? I can tell the difference between a revolver and a semi-automatic 99% of the time but there’s that one English semi-auto revolver that screws me up. and hasn’t the whole idea of ballistic fingerprinting been pretty well discredited? And if they are referring to microstamping that only helps, when it works (which is a very low percentage of the time (and it is easily defeated)), after a shooting has taken place

  13. Anybody else catch from the WaPo article that “researcher” Kalesan pretty much admitted that micro-stamping laws and such are essentially gun bans? When it was pointed out that there is no discernible reason why firearms ID tech would affect gun- suicide rates Kalesan countered that with such laws in place “there would be fewer guns”.

    • Better question: Would fewer guns result in fewer suicides (not just fewer gun suicides), irrespective of the method employed? What research establishes that proposition?

  14. To describe that study as “flawed” is like describing Hillary as “not quite Miss Congeniality.”

  15. Meanwhile, back in the real world, gang banger cop killer is allowed to live while feigning mental disability.
    And as we saw a few days ago in Washington state, a good guy with a gun can in fact take down a psycho before he kills.
    And how again does this idiot believe that her little laws will change anything?

  16. Too bad we’re stuck footing the bill for all that “shoddy politically motivated research” on ‘climate change’.

    • Hey hey that’s settled science. 197inty percent of scientists agree (including political scientists, consumer food and nutrition scientists, sanitation engineering scientists, etc etc etc.)

  17. I like the part where they say ammunition background check laws reduce gun violence. Of course no states have such legislation at this time. Or the fact that they used just one years data for projections, not years before or after legislation. Nice professional work…

  18. Lancet and New England Journal of Medicine, no matter how many people continue to call them “prestigious”, have long been political rags containing laughable research.

  19. I, for one, will delight in quoting this study as regards proposed gun laws. Not the “90% reduction with 3 laws” part, but the list of other measures found irrelevant or to increase gun deaths.

    — “So, Proconsul Quomo (the Younger), you are proposing this modified ‘Safer even than SAFE act’ because you want more people to die of guns? Good to know. What’s that? Oh, not me. Says so right here in this study that those things get more people killed.”

    — What’s their move? “Oh that’s a debunked study. Shoddy studies, who’d have thunk it. So, when you base your proposals on “studies” how convinced should we be?”

    — What’s your motive? “When a study says a law you want won’t reduce violence, it’s shoddy. When a study supports a law you’ve already decided you want, it’s science. I do wonder, is that because that’s how it works, or that’s what supports what you’ve already decide?”

    — How sure should we be? “Since you bring up science-y arguments for your preference, let me quote some folks on one refereed study… “

  20. Wait, I’ve just thought of a better one! How about we just simply outlaw *dying*? Think of the benefits, gun deaths will be reduced by 100% instantly! Also cancer deaths, saving billions in research dollars! But the best part is the ease of enforcement, anybody violating this law is punished INSTANTLY, and completely, without any cost to the taxpayers. Recidivism is ancient history, I’m telling you this is the SOLUTION!

  21. Lead buried: David Hemenway even thinks this anti-gun propoganda is nonsense. He must only like his own brand of propaganda.

    This may show rift between Joyce, Bloomberg, and smaller antigun groups. Good for us.

  22. While excessive gun deaths are a problem, people should remember that for every American murdered by a firearm, 25 Americans are murdered by incompetent, careless and/or lazy doctors. The more serious problem should be addressed first.

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