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gang members courtesy

There’s a report circulating around the internet about correlations between assault victims and gun ownership among those who make emergency room visits, and it seems that the authors of those articles are jumping to some startling conclusions without actually reading and understanding the source report (available here). So let’s take a peek at what’s being written compared to what the report actually says . . .

First things first, a word about the way the study was run. This study is the result of observation of a single emergency room in a high crime area of Michigan (Flint). Let me repeat that.

This study was based on observations of a single hospital in a high crime area.

That alone should set off alarm bells for anyone trying to apply this data anywhere outside of Flint. Also, while the sample size of 689 patients may seem large to the non-stats-minded individuals, keep in mind that our own survey here at TTAG has already had over 1,000 responses in less than 24 hours. And I’m still not happy with the sample size.

Also raising red flags: the study considers anyone 24 years old and under to be a “youth.” This is in line with previous propaganda pieces by the NY Times in which they included older “kids” in order to pad their stats. As we noted in that article, it’s not the actual “children” (under 18) that are being involved in firearms related homicides, but by associating the word “children” with the 19- to 24-year-olds, it creates the desired emotional response for their deaths that the study is looking to generate. It’s trying to make you think that 12 year olds are running around with AR-15s and being assaulted on a regular basis, which is not the case at all even according to this biased study.

So, what do the results say?

Among assault-injured youth, 23.1% (n = 159) reported firearm possession (Table 1) in the past 6 months. Among those with firearms, 41.5% (n = 66) reported carrying outside the home in the past 6 months. Of participants with firearms, 67.3% were seen for peer related violence and 14.5% for intimate partner–related violence; 3.4% reported threatening someone with a firearm during the altercation that prompted the visit. Of those with firearms, 4 (2.5%) reported an ED mental health visit within the past year.

So, for the given population (which, again, is very small), the conclusion is that 1 in 4 victims of assault own guns. What about their age, though?

Of those with firearms, 14.5% (n = 23) were younger than 18 and 32.1% (n = 51) have children.

Aha. So, it’s NOT the younger assault victims that are owning guns. In fact, of the 689 survey participants, only 23 were gun-toting minors (read: gang members). So the title being used for these articles, that 1 in 4 “youths” in the ER for assault have guns, would be inaccurate. If I weren’t trying to tone back the rhetoric a bit, I might even go so far as to call it yellow journalism.

The study then goes on to use these ~150 gun owning ER denizens to paint all gun owners in a poor light.

Participants with firearms noted more overall violent experiences in the previous 6 months (Table 1). They were also noted to have higher rates of group fighting (44.0% vs 25.3%, P , .001) and gang membership (9.4% vs 0.9%, P , .001), although only 2.9% (n = 20) of the overall sample (n = 689) endorsed gang membership. Participants with firearms were also more likely the victim or the aggressor in firearm-related violence in the past 6 months (Table 1).


Past 6-month binge drinking and illicit drug use were positively associated with firearm possession.

Notice how, even though these responses are the extreme minority (less than 10%), they are presented as if they are the prevailing opinion among the surveyed gun owners? By specifically calling them out in their negative connotation the study appears to be trying to get the reader to come away with the impression that the minority opinion is the true opinion, and by extension all gun owners are drunk and belligerent.

The study also fell into the same old bias, re-labeling semi-automatic weapons as machine guns. Or, at the very least, putting them in the same category.

Among the assault-injured youth in our sample (Table 2), respondents were noted to possess high levels of rapid fire weapons with 17.6% (n = 28) of youth noting ownership of automatic or semiautomatic weapons […]. Of these youth with automatic/semiautomatic weapons, 32.1% (n = 9) endorsed the view that “revenge was a good thing,” 14.3% (n = 4) reported that they carried a gun “to scare someone” or “to get back at someone,” and 1 of these participants had a mental health visit within the past year at the site ED.

So, by extension, all semi-auto firearm owners are lunatics out for revenge, looking to use their guns to scare people, and mentally ill. Even though the numbers indicate the exact opposite (that people with those opinions are in the clear minority) by presenting it in this light the study seems to be trying to condition the reader to believe the stated opinions and ignore the numbers.

For anyone who passed high school statistics and possesses half a brain, the immediate response to reading the study’s protocols would be to chunk it in the trash. It’s about as useful as a critical review to Max Reger. And yet, because it appears to paint gun owners in a negative light, the usual suspects will be jumping all over it. Nevermind that it actually shows that, even among those who steal guns in a high crime area, they still abhor revenge and violence, because of the way the report was worded it will be presented as further evidence of the malevolence of gun owners.

If only there was a way to reach through the internet and apply a dope smack to deserving journalists . . .

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    • Research shows that 2 out 3 Mexican Obuma amnesty voters keep their booger hook off the bang switch until they arrive at the driveby address. Follow on research indicates this is better than the popo.

    • That was my first thought. Esse’s* one and three know what’s up. 3 especially looks like he knows what he’s doing.

      (*before anyone gets butthurt about what they think was a racist statement, blue = sureño)

  1. In all fairness, pediatricians do treat 24yos… whereas the criminal justice system can trial 16yos as adults… its just a different perspective, albeit somewhat humorous. Its also 100% illegal for anyone under 18 to buy a firearm and use it in a crime, but nevermind… again, correlation without causation…

  2. Wow, this is basically a survey of gang members. Also, get used to hearing “rapid fire” when people talk about semi-autos, they’re changing tactics and trying harder than ever to make people think these are machine guns. I mean CNN used that wording in a poll they did on the subject to try to juice up the numbers. I honestly think atleast half or more of those polled that are for “assault weapon” bans believe that they’re MG’s, the other half is just people that don’t believe in the civilian ownership of firearms in general.

  3. “The most common reason given for having a gun was protection (37%)”

    Maybe the good Dr should start going to the inner city for her morning runs and see how safe she feels?

    While I’m sure the majority of that 37% need protection due to being in a gang/fight, I sure there’s a few who carry because they’re tired of being bullied and are generally good eggs.

  4. So if I took my 23 year old son to the range last week and enjoyed the day, then the following week he goes to the ER for a case of M-1 thumb, he would be classed as a firearm-related-injury, gun-toting youth.


  5. Ohhhh, so owning a gun makes it more likely you will randomly be in a gang, here I thought being in a gang meant it was more likely you would seek out obtaining a gun. Way to go science!

    We all know there are far more variables involved here. Are all of those individuals in the ER gang members? Were those injured assaulted by gang members? Why do they always make it seem guns just cause random violence when in reality random violence just happens to involve a gun. Did they look at other injury types other than firearms?

    Again science has proven the sun rises because I get up through correlation.

  6. OMG! Gang members are shooting each other! OMG!

    The real shocker would be if we found out some of them were involved in the illegal narcotics trade.

  7. Hey wait…
    Only 1 in 4 have had contact with a gun in six months. It seems very unlikely that an active gang member would go six months without touching a gun. That implies that many of the victims were not gang members, and were probably innocent drive-by victims.

    Maybe we just need to invest in precision firearms training for gang members, then it becomes a self repairing problem.

    Also, what’s with all the ED treatment? Do gang members need Viagra?

  8. There are many tricks one can use to write a nice little propaganda study. You can examine an artificially narrow sample of people (young men seen in a Flint, MI Emergency Room for assault-related injuries). You can mash together highly distinct groups and pretend they’re the same thing to make it look like the outcomes are due to a characteristic shared by the entire group (gun ownership) rather than one shared by a subset of that group (criminals who carry guns illegally). You can measure a lot of variables and be only report on the pairwise comparisons or correlations that support your agenda (gun ownership and illicit drug use, vs. illegal gun ownership and illicit drug use).

    This “study” does all of the above.

  9. This photo reminded me of a good line from the movie the Peacemaker:

    “I am not scared of the person who wants 14 nukes. I am scared of the person who just wants one.”

    So let us rephrase that.

    You should not be scared of the person who wants dozens of firearms. You should be scared of the person who just wants one.

  10. Great job Nick. Another proof for the Truth About Guns brand. Will be linking back here as usual from other comments sections when I see “news” orgs refer to this study so rational thinkers have the facts and hope others do the same. As Glenn Reynolds aka blogfather of Instapundit points out in his book Army of Davids individuals can make a difference spreading the truth. Bravo Zulu and Press On.

  11. Isn’t the nationwide gun ownership rate something like 1 in 4? So whether you poll injured gang members, Catholic priests, or stay at home moms, the average rate of gun ownership is still going to come out to about 1 in 4.

  12. Over 30 years ago, the Bradly people pulled the same sh*t.

    They came out with a study that “proved” the #1 cause of death of children were handguns. When you read the fine print, you found out a “child” was anyone that was 21 years old and younger.

    None of these studies are worth anything because the data gets massaged to generate the message they want. They will delete data and they will create data, all under the BS line of “generally accepted statistical practices”, whether or not these “practices” are even applicable or acceptable.

  13. “The dependent variable, firearm possession, was defined as gun carriage or gun ownership within the past 6 months. All firearm questions and responses were from the Tulane National Youth Study and excluded use for hunting or sporting activities. Affirmative answers to any of the 5 questions were coded as possession of a firearm.”

    So they excluded anyone who had possessed or used the firearm for hunting or sporting purposes… seems like that is going to skew the results toward a ‘certain type of youth’.

    My personal favorite line tho, “Previous research has demonstrated the immediate post-injury time is an ideal time to capitalize on a teachable moment with preventive interventions.”

    What did we learn?

  14. A = you live in an area with a high violent crime rate.
    B = It’s a good idea to own a gun.

    P(A|B)*P(B)/P(A) = P(B|A)

  15. 75 percent of assault victims did not own a firearm? The moral is: always have a firearm with you, and you well be less likely to get assaulted!

  16. Correct me if I’m wrong but (and this is certainly just one issue in a study so flawed as to be beyond useless) isn’t even the question about firearms possession sufficiently vague as to be meaningless? The way I read it having briefly picked up and put down a gun belonging to someone else (say moving out a chair so one could sit) would be considered ‘possession’.

    What this study seems to prove is that among 16-24 year old inner city residents who are prone to violence, a minority possessed firearms. It also seems to indicate that among the same demographic some are injured in assaults. Am I wrong?

  17. Reading this report reminded me of another important statistic:

    100% of people who drink water will die. Probability is increased for individuals to be on a day that ends in “y”.

  18. In other news, 100% of shooting victims were in possession of shoes at the time of their shooting.

    The link between Shoes and Deadly violence is in-disputable. It is Time for Common sense Shoe Control.

    ….I can feel my brain leaking out of my ears as I write that.


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