LA Times Falls Hook, Line and Sinker For Debunked Gun Control “Study”


I honestly can’t say that I’m surprised no one at the LA Times bothered to fact check their latest anti-gun editorial. The article, penned by David Hemenway himself, is pretty much a copy and paste job from an article in Michael Bloomberg’s The Trace which I already thoroughly took to the woodshed for some quality time. And yet here we are, another anti-gun editorial staff ignoring basic scientific and statistical principles because the article supports their preconceived notions. How bad is it? So bad that my high school statistics teacher would slap me upside my head if I even began to accept this as “good math.”

Here’s all you really need to read:

Why do so many Americans own guns? The main reason, according to surveys, is protection. Advocates argue that guns in the home both deter crime (criminals refrain from even trying to break in because they fear being shot by an armed citizen) and thwart it (an armed citizen can stop a crime in progress, preventing injury or theft).

The scientific evidence, however, provides little support for these arguments. Quite the opposite.


More than 42% of the time, the victim took some action — maced the offender, yelled at the offender, struggled, ran away, or called the police. Victims used a gun in less than 1% of the incidents (127/14,145). In other words, actual self-defense gun use, even in our gun-rich country, is rare.

It is sometimes claimed that guns are particularly beneficial to potentially weaker victims, such as women. Yet of the more than 300 sexual assaults reported in the surveys, the number of times women were able to use a gun to protect themselves was zero.

I have already taken the time to have a good laugh about the amazingly poor analysis, but Robert thinks that it bears repeating. Personally when I read Hemenway’s article in the LA Times I felt like I was watching the video from some airplane accident, having already read the NTSB report. I knew what was about to happen, I knew what the author was about to say even before he said it, and I knew the horrific crash that lay ahead. But there I stood, answers in hand to avert the disaster and put his metaphorical plane crash of an article back on the glideslope, and yet I could only watch in horror as he made the same arguments that would have ended the career of any serious mathematician and sent them reeling from the halls of academia in shame and dishonor.

I’m not sure who to blame more for that painful experience, the author (Mr. Hemenway) for failing to understand basic statistical principles, or the LA Times for providing funding and a platform for his delusional rantings.

For the benefit of those who didn’t see my first pass at this, here’s the point: Mr. Hemenway bases his entire conclusion on a grand total of 127 “defensive gun use” scenarios that happened over the course of four years and were reported in a random voluntary phone survey. He believes that the fact that only 1% of the people who responded to the phone survey were involved in a DGU means that it never happens, and based on those 127 incidents he further concludes that guns are useless.

Right. Out of the thousands of defensive gun uses every year, an analysis of a small handful of these events is conclusive proof that DGUs never happen and guns are useless. That’s like using a small tidal pool on a beach to make conclusions about the entire ocean.

I need a stiff drink.


  1. avatar Rick the Bear says:

    My dad would have said, “If you do that too much, you’ll go blind.”

    1. avatar Gunr says:

      And you replied, “Can I just do it until I need glasses then?”

      1. avatar Geoff PR says:

        “And you replied, “Can I just do it until I need glasses then?””

        I’m screwed.

        I’ve had glasses since I was 5 years old…



        1. avatar Marcus (Aurelius) Payne says:

          “I’m screwed.”

          That is the preferred treatment.

  2. avatar brentondadams says:

    The gallop polling showing the increase in support for the RTKBA is driving leftists nuts.

    This is another part of the full court press Im sure everyone has been noticing.

    Clearly these groups/media are in collusion with each other, Id love to see exactly how.

  3. avatar Indiana Tom says:

    Just repeat the lie often enough and it will become fact.

    1. avatar James says:

      Bingo. This is the game plan.

  4. avatar Joe R. says:

    F their Times

    More POS from the f-ers who act like they invented (it’s celebrated).

    They (the lot) could sh_t out their entire body weight, and not even leave a thin pelt behind.

  5. avatar Curtis in IL says:

    “…or the LA Times for providing funding and a platform for his delusional rantings.”

    The MSM provides funding and a platform for anyone who will help sell newspapers and advance their agenda. Newspaper revenues are in the toilet, layoffs are commonplace, and they’re all in panic mode, throwing journalistic ethics aside while they grasp at anything they think might save their jobs.

    It’s sad. As Thomas Jefferson pointed out, we need newspapers to keep the government honest. But the newspapers we have left aren’t fulfilling that role.

    1. avatar Stuki Moi says:

      Jefferson was too clever to rely on newspapers to do that job. He also recommended a revolution every generation, just in case. That’s the recommendation those after him unfortunately failed to follow. Which is why we are where we are today.

  6. avatar DAN V says:

    It’s in a newspaper. It must be true. TTAG must be the liars — gun nut extremists that they are. Vote for safety and a new world order! You could take my guns but I dont own any — but sure I’ll vote.

  7. avatar GS650G says:

    John Lott should give this guy a call sometime.
    As Daniel Patrick Monyhan once remarked: You are entitled to your own opinion but not your own facts.

    Using phony statistics to convince us to outsource our lives is not going to help anyone.

    1. avatar Stuki Moi says:

      “As Daniel Patrick Monyhan once remarked: You are entitled to your own opinion but not your own facts.”

      While a nice quote, and obviously well meant, it’s still giving way to much credence to the progressive project.

      For one, distinguishing opinion from “fact”, is generally not 100% possible. So, what in practice ends up happening is that the opinions of so called “experts” or “scientists”, gets promoted to “fact” status. Serving teh progressives well, since they dedicate their entire lives to do nothing more than try to obtain “expert” status for themselves.

      Also, freedom is not something that requires the support of “facts” to be a valid and superior goal. No matter what “the facts” might indicate, and no matter what the “result” of freedom may be, it is the ultimate goal a priori. Getting dragged into supposed “fact” debates with progressives, is largely akin to mud wrestling pigs. No matter how “good” they may be at it, they’re still just pigs. Even if the right to bear arms would lead to the whole planet degenerating into a post-nuclear Armageddon unfit for anything but glow-in-the-dark cockroaches, it is still preferable to gun control. If for no other reason than that, in a hierarchy of living things, even roaches sort higher than progressives.

  8. avatar Scot says:

    Just knowing that Hemenway was the author should have told you it was worthless.

  9. avatar Mark Lee says:

    Does the author bother to address these errant authors he postulates about here on TTAG? I’d just hate to think that all of this research isn’t being thrown back in their faces and their readers educated on how they are being conditioned to accept eventual slaughter.

    Seriously, are the TTAG authors using this information to further our cause or are they just here to get our panties in a twist? Because IMHO asking the readers questions of the day wont’t further the cause unless the responses are good enough AND they are used to gain leverage, just like the write-ups.

    It would be interesting to compare the great statistics on TTAG website visits & participation versus how much of that information is being disseminated to forums and boards where they can do the most good for us/damage to the hoplophobes.

    Or have I mistaken the true purpose of TTAG?

    1. avatar GayGunOwner says:

      +1 Mark – great point. GLAAD and the Anti-Defamation League publish contact info, key advertiser info, and issue press releases when media publishes inaccurate, homophobic or antisemetic items. They also make speakers available to counter claims.

      They’ve been accused of using bully tactics, but tough to argue with their success.

      This takes work and beyond the scope of a small operation like TTAG. I’m surprised that organizations like the NRA do not appear to be more aggressive in countering misimpressions and falsehoods. I see little to win the hearts and minds of the public or to confront propaganda. By contrast, the head of Brady was an account executive with advertising behemoth JWT.

      Urging the arming of teachers or preachers seems counterproductive regardless of efficacy.

      1. avatar Mark Lee says:

        Yep well thanks, but the MDA bitches are just as bullying as anyone – probably mores as I see online whenever an objective and informed media representative crashes their little events. There’s no reason not to take the “FU” response with their behavior, but I know that the aggressive response team approach is infinitely more effective – as anecdotally proven by your examples – both impressive representations of how to firmly address your enemies in the court of public opinion.

  10. avatar DaveL says:

    Besides which, his is a circular argument. Even if it were true guns were rarely used in self-defense, of course that would have to be at least partially due to the obstacles imposed on gun ownership. The three most populous cities in the country have long traditions of civilian disarmament.

    In other words, we’re justified in restricting access to guns because access to guns is restricted.

  11. avatar DKW says:

    I hate these journalists citing the lack of defensive gun use during a criminal act as evidence stating having a gun for protection is does no good. This logic is seriously flawed in that they are assuming whomever the criminal act is against at the time has a firearm and is readily available to use it. What they should be looking at is how many people who had a firearm readily available during a criminal act, used it.

  12. avatar Chip in Florida says:

    “…In other words, actual self-defense gun use, even in our gun-rich country, is rare.”

    Why should you care if I carry a firearm? If using it for self defense is so incredibly rare it would mean that I am never going to use it so why should you care one whit if I have one?

    1. avatar Sian says:

      Because every legal concealed carrier is the next mass shooter just waiting for a bad day or a mental break dontchaknow.

      Oh except for the fact that this has never happened in the history of ever despite millions of people carrying daily.

    2. avatar peirsonb says:

      It’s the old saying: Gun control is not about the gun….

  13. avatar actionphysicalman says:

    That guy looks like he parties pretty hard.

  14. avatar Stinkeye says:

    “I’m not sure who to blame more for that painful experience…”

    You bear a lot of the responsibility for picking up that LA Times rag in the first place.

  15. avatar PW in KY says:

    Their study found that only 1% of those surveyed had a DGU. When extrapolated to the population wouldn’t that indicate over 3 million DGUs??? Am I missing something?

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