A Study That Gets it Right: Gun Laws Change Nothing

police crime scene body

(AP Photo/Mark Thiessen)

By Robert B. Young, MD

I routinely castigate lousy research by prejudiced academics who make their careers publishing poorly designed, illogically interpreted studies claiming that guns are bad and that widely restricting their ownership will solve society’s problems. I get tired of it, like anyone would covering the same fake news over and over. So it is really refreshing to review the rare study that gets it right from start to finish.

“Effect of firearms legislation on suicide and homicide in Canada from 1981 to 2016”  was published June 18 in PLOS One by DRGO member Cailinn Langmann, MD. PLOS One is an open access, but peer reviewed online journal. Dr. Langmann has reviewed a number of others’ work for DRGO, correcting their misattribution and bringing light to the world. Here, he takes them on with his own work.

I encourage you to go to the article itself, but here’s the summary. Canada has “progressively” taken the lead over the U.S. in piling up increasing restrictions on gun ownership, notably in federal laws from 1991, 1994 and 2001. Dr. Langmann looked at homicide and suicide rates from 1981 through 2016, which gave unequivocal before, during and after comparisons.

The results: “No associated benefit from firearms legislation on aggregate rates of . . . suicide” was found for either males or females, though there were increases in rates of hanging suicide and poisoning. “No beneficial association was found between legislation and female or male homicide rates.” On the other hand, “an increased association with suicide rates was found with rates of low income, increased unemployment, and the percentage of aboriginals.”

All his data is public and readily available online, unlike the common problem with other researchers generating data but unwilling to share it in order for others to confirm its validity and appropriateness. There is no researcher-defined case control nonsense here—Langmann analyzes his data as a whole, over time (including sub-sections defined by the three points of new laws), and by age groups and sex. He chooses his topics for regression analysis well, uncovering significant associations with unemployment, poverty, pre-existing high suicide rates, and prevalence of Native Canadians.

The approach is important, too, because its validity underlies the results’ validity. Biased researchers focus only on the rate of use of firearms in suicide and homicide. And (surprise!) “gun deahts” decline with less availability of guns. But they pay no attention to the only changes that matter, overall suicide and homicide rates because of all the ways people can choose to end their lives or others’.

A valuable side-result of work that does, like Langmann’s, is to substantiate the societal reality of means substitution. Yes, the degree of lethality of methods matters a great deal at the decisive moment—it is important to find just ways to separate suicidal individuals from guns (and high places, etc.) when there is an acute risk.

Each life counts, and saving one is a great thing. But on a population basis, there is no difference with or without firearms over time. Rational thinkers know this anyway, because there are other countries with little civilian gun access in which suicide rates dwarf ours.

Add to this finding the fact that violent crime does generally rise in the absence of firearms owned by civilians and their consequent inability to defend themselves.  Just look at the United Kingdom, or any of a number of long-time Democrat-controlled American cities where gun control has resulted in too many (criminal) guns on the street versus none in victims’ hands. Guns owned responsibly are not a cause of suicide, homicide or other violent crime.

Let’s wrap up with Langmann’s own conclusions:

  • It’s true “gun control methods to reduce suicide by firearms may have benefits”—but only in reducing suicide by firearms, not overall.
  • “No associated reductions in homicide with increasing firearms regulations suggests alternative approaches are necessary to reduce homicide by firearm.” These would include:
  • “Steps to reduce youth gang membership and violence through diversion and educational programs”;
  • “[C]ommunity based suicide prevention programs such as training of family physicians in the detection and treatment of depression and [non-judgmental] discussions about firearms, campaigns aimed at increasing awareness about depression, and follow-up of individuals who attempted suicide”; and,
  • “Outreach to groups for which access to care may be a particular issue, such as Aboriginals”.

The truth is out there, for those who have eyes to see it. Just follow the science—the good science, like this.

 

DRGO Editor Robert B. Young, MD is a psychiatrist practicing in Pittsford, NY, an associate clinical professor at the University of Rochester School of Medicine, and a Distinguished Life Fellow of the American Psychiatric Association.

This article was originally published at drgo.us and is reprinted here with permission. 

comments

  1. avatar Darkman says:

    The only change that will effect the situation in a positive way. Is one that Liberals find abhorrent. Being held to the standard of Personal Responsibility. Because it just can’t be their fault.

    1. avatar Green Mtn. Boy says:

      Correct,to Leftist’s it’s always someone else’s fault.

      1. avatar Darkman says:

        Further Consequences of the Liberal Justice Ideology:
        Freed from jail amid coronavirus, VA rape suspect kills accuser: report | Fox News
        https://www.foxnews.com/us/freed-jail-coronavirus-rape-kills-accuser

    2. avatar Seentoomuch says:

      The lack of personal responsibility is the cause of most of our problems in this country today. Spineless politicians who always excuse bad behavior and make excuses for lawbreakers don’t have a clue. Our educational system is turning out indoctrinated citizens who vote for these gutless politicians. Our mass media no longer informs the public with the facts as they are. The mass media either skews the facts or doesn’t report facts that don’t fit the narrative and their agenda. How do we turn this around when there are so many who are so ignorant about what’s going on?

  2. avatar Green Mtn. Boy says:

    “Gun Laws Change Nothing” and are unConstitutional as well.

    1. avatar Optimistic Engineer says:

      They change how easy it is for felons to perform the crimes. I wouldn’t say gun laws do nothing.

      1. avatar tommy2fer says:

        Guns laws do MUCH and are EXTREMELY EFFECTIVE.
        A politician with a law never stops a bad guy with a gun.
        He only controls the good guys, which is his true agenda.
        The bad guys with guns are merely the politicians’ Useful Idiots.
        Do much; very effective. Just not what a good person would hope for, expect.

    2. avatar Ing says:

      Let’s rephrase it: Anti-gun laws help no one but criminals. (And that covers the politicians that make the laws, too.)

    3. avatar Frank McEvoy says:

      In Canada the right to own firearms is a privilege not a right. We DON’T have a constitution as such. We have a bill of rights and freedoms with no amendments cuz we got it right the first time. I have 47 years of law enforcement experience and I don’t own a firearm. In general I don’t have an argument against for long guns for hunting and target shooting. The ownership of restricted and prohibited firearms and devices should be limited to collectors and legitimate target shooting.

  3. avatar Dennis says:

    They change nothing but the ability of normal people’s ability to defend themselves. Oftentimes against the same people who draft those laws!!!

  4. avatar Shire-man says:

    Neat.
    Thanks to confirmation bias and politics it doesn’t mean squat to the people for who it matters.

  5. avatar I Haz A Question says:

    Isn’t this why Canada ceased their long gun registration as well…because the data eventually proved that it had no effect in deterring crime and was pointless?

    https://www.rcinet.ca/en/2014/12/01/canadian-long-gun-registry-initiated-and-cancelled/

    ****

    Now if only a prominent study could be done in CA and get some press coverage…

    1. avatar Optimistic Engineer says:

      Let me carry in California!

    2. avatar DaveL says:

      Ineffective, pointless, and expensive, don’t forget that last part.

      1. avatar LarryinTX says:

        Exactly, Dave. Most popular are restrictions in which the person restricted has to pay for that “service”. NICS is a good example. When I wish to purchase a gun, I have no need for a background check on myself. The check is presented to the public as an enhancement to their safety, not my own. So, the public goes along, and never after care that absolutely zero enhancement to their safety occurs, since it is not costing them anything. If a background check benefits the public, then the public should pay for it. After watching millions of dollars of their tax money disappear with no result, the NICS checks would have disappeared 25 years ago, very possibly along with the politicians who proposed them.

    3. avatar Ing says:

      Yep. It cost millions of dollars, and didn’t contribute to even a single, solitary criminal conviction during the whole time it was in operation. An absolute failure — so of course the progtards want to resurrect it.

  6. avatar gus says:

    surprise! people who want to commit suicide, are going to commit suicide. people who want to commit crimes, are going to commit crimes.

    and people who want to ban guns, are going to try to ban guns. even when it means ignoring the truth.

    1. avatar Not Larry from Texas says:

      In Japan who has a higher suicide rate than us per capital just hang themselves or jump from high places. If it is going to happen it is going to happen.

  7. avatar Ryno says:

    I still don’t understand why people keep doing and funding these ridiculous studies. They’re a waste of time and effort. The fact of the matter is that gun ownership has a net effect of ZERO on suicide rates. This is a fact that we’ve known for a VERY long time. How do we know this to be an indisputable fact?

    Japan.

    1. avatar LarryinTX says:

      The studies are done because special interests convince Congress to pay for them. IOW, as usual, follow the money. If you have just completed the reporting on a multimillion dollar “study”, then you are likely to already have another starting. All you need for a lucrative career is to make sure your studies demonstrate the correct results. Thus, you get hundreds of studies, all giving the same answer, that everyone knows is wrong.

      1. avatar Ryno says:

        Am I the only one disturbed & saddened by the fact that the American People, collectively, are stupid enough that we pay money for people to tell us patently ridiculous BS that isn’t supported by a single fact, then we scream that from the mountain as gospel.

        1. avatar Ing says:

          You’re definitely not the only one. It’s a gigantic scam, and it’s nauseating.

          The same thing is underway with the “defund the police” nonsense. That money that’s supposedly going back into the community is going straight into the pockets of BurnLootMurder and a whole raft of social justice organizations that will churn out even more of the corrosive Marxist stupidity we’re currently dealing with.

        2. avatar Gordon in MO says:

          Ing says: August 7, 2020 at 18:16 “The same thing is underway with the “defund the police” nonsense. That money that’s supposedly going back into the community is going straight into the pockets of BurnLootMurder and a whole raft of social justice organizations that will churn out even more of the corrosive Marxist stupidity we’re currently dealing with.”

          The problem is, we are not “dealing with” the marxist stupidity, we, collectively, are standing by and watching it happen.

          Local democrat (communist party USA) politicians are allowing, aiding, and abetting the marxist violence.

          We have no way to “deal with” the violence without the local politicians throwing the book at us. They would love for some of “us” to provide needed response. It would be all over the “liberal” media about “radical right wing terrorists”.

          Be Prepared for when pot boils over…

  8. avatar possum says:

    “You can’t come in here with that. Didn’t you see the no firearms sign?” , ,”Yes I did but the picture is of a Berretta and this is a 1911.”

    1. avatar Ing says:

      I never have understood why they hate Berettas so much.

      1. avatar Pb_fan59 says:

        Umm, maybe because the Italians invented it with the safety in the wrong place, and charged a shit ton for it, then got DOD to buy them. Taurus improved it, then sold them for less than half of the cost. The guy who designed the sign icon must have been a Beretta customer 😁

      2. avatar Darkman says:

        The company I used to work for had signs with revolvers. Never stopped me from carrying my Semi Auto for 15 years. They never found out I carried at work until the day I quit. Needless to say the Plant Manger, HR Manager and Security Manger were more than surprised. They all learned a valuable lesson that day on the weakness of their security. I still left on good terms with all involved. Signs don’t stop people from carrying firearms for good or bad reasons.

        1. avatar Pb_fan59 says:

          I actually have used the line ” I’m exempt- mine’s stainless”… both times, the flunkie store manager walked away befuddled !

        2. avatar tsbhoa.p.jr says:

          i’ve seen some “no deagle” ones too.

  9. avatar WI Patriot says:

    And the left will claim that the results are biased or skewed…

  10. avatar enuf says:

    I was curious so I looked up the origin of that photo:

    3 die in shooting at Alaska precious metals shop
    Published September 12, 2017
    Last Update September 18, 2017
    https://www.foxnews.com/us/3-die-in-shooting-at-alaska-precious-metals-shop

  11. “Gun Laws Change Nothing” and are unConstitutional as well.

    1. avatar Gordon in MO says:

      I think most of us realize and agree with what you say.

      The left doesn’t care what we know or say and don’t care about the Constitution as a whole and 2A in particular.

  12. avatar Dyspeptic Gunsmith says:

    Liberals and laws are like marxists and communism: they keep thinking “it’s going to work this time…”

  13. avatar No says:

    We all know that what a revelation good lord what will they come up with next

  14. avatar Melissa Dorn says:

    I am a professional lawyer and I can tell you with confidence that the laws about weapons, as practice shows, are written only on paper. They do not affect the criminal situation, regardless of what research shows. In general, few legal laws in practice have an impact on people’s behavior. It upsets me and I decided to radically change my profession. I want to build data-driven systems to make better data decisions. I’ve even found a service https://www.sopservices.net/ which help me write a quality goal statement. I hope this will help me in applying.

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