Man With Magnifying Glass
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By Elizabeth McGuigan

A recent study out of Columbia University Mailman School of Public Health relies on a flawed model to assert that more restrictive gun control laws yield lower homicide rates in the states with the laws and even in neighboring states.

The fundamental problem with the approach taken is that it assumes crime is a public health issue and tries to analyze a criminal justice problem with an epidemiological lens. What the study ends up with is a distorted picture of a very real issue.

As we have explained many times in the past, homicides are not a public health problem.

Jumbled Data

Setting aside the fundamental problem that underpins this model, there are other, more practical issues with the study design. First, the authors examine county-level data, but draw state-level conclusions. Second, the extended period of time analyzed, from 2000-2014, captures numerous law changes on not only the state laws included in the model, but also on the local and federal levels, which are not taken into account.

For example, there was a federal ban on the now popular Modern Sporting Rifles (MSRs) for the first four years of this period. Significant changes have been made to the federal background check system that all federally licensed firearm retailers are required to use for each gun sale. Cities have enacted laws that extend far beyond state laws.

None of these factors were accounted for in the model. Granted, these laws may not have had any impact on crime rates, but ignoring their existence and changes in the model is a serious gap.

The model incorporated a count of gun laws as a measure of the strictness of gun control in a given state. This overly simplified measure ignores the fact that one law may be far stricter than another.

For example, two neighboring states may both have arbitrary limits on the ammunition capacity of legally owned magazines, but one may set a cap at 10 rounds, and another at 50. While neither would impact the action of criminals, it is absurd to argue that one law is equivalent to another.

Frequently, states enact laws that mirror existing federal rules. Counting the state laws as stand-alone laws, ignores the fact that the same rules apply in neighboring states that have not passed laws that are already covered under federal measures.

A simple logic test would have stopped this research in its tracks. It simply does not explain the nightmarish scenarios that residents of Chicago and New York City experience year after year. These two cities have some of the strictest gun control laws in the United States and there is no evidence that these laws prevent criminals from committing crimes.

Conversely, as the study points out, Vermont has very few gun laws on the books. Yet, Vermont has one of the lowest violent crime rates in the country. Additionally, on a national-level, the number of guns in the hands of consumers is rising, while violent crimes are steadily declining.

Shockingly Obvious

It is no surprise that the authors do not argue that their results are causal. They point to “associations” between the number of laws and homicides. However, they are careful to note that, “establishing the direction of the association is an intractable problem for observational research of firearm laws and firearm homicide.” States enact laws in reaction to homicides, which may “bias associations in favor of stronger laws.”

When clumsily attempting to address the failure of their presupposed conclusion that fewer gun laws in one state leads to more homicides in another state, the authors include an astounding sentence that must be addressed:

“Consumers of legal firearms may be a different population from consumers of illegal firearms.”

If there were any question about the bias of this study, this sentence would dismiss that outright.

Yes, law-abiding citizens who decide to purchase firearms are not the same individuals as those who choose to break the law and misuse likely illegal firearms for crimes such as homicides. However, gun control laws, by definition, only affect the common law-abiding citizen.

Public health models cannot distinguish between the hundreds of healthy, safe and legal reasons Americans purchase firearms and the actions of criminals because these models assume the gun is the problem.


Elizabeth McGuigan is Director of Legislative and Policy Research at the National Shooting Sports Foundation. 

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  1. …if the results of the election vote tallies so far are any indication…like we’re supposed to believe that a ballot dump of 139K votes for Biden suddenly appeared overnight in MI to push Biden over Trump and provide the necessary 270 votes?

    Yes, criminals are afoot.

    • “Dump” suddenly appeared, or they just got done counting in-person ballots and moved on to counting absentee ballots that were already there in boxes?

      • Nothing wrong with counting absentee ballots and reporting them all at once. What’s suspect is 138K for Biden and 0 for Trump. Do you really believe that 100% of absentee ballots or 100% of a district waiting to report are going to all go for the same candidate?

        If so, I have some ocean front property here in Fort Worth to sell you for a million bucks.

        • Tough one. On the one hand, Biden has been telling voters to vote by mail for month.s On the other hand, Trump has been telling voters to vote in person, don’t trust the mail. Is there some chance that people listened to the those candidates that they believed in? Maybe . . .

          But, you’re right that a hundred thousand ballots of any type with zero votes for one candidate or the other is suspicious. Something smells bad around here.

      • Um…we’re all going to stop counting votes for tonight…because we are all, um, kinda tired. I know it’s highly unusual, never been done before…but we are all so, so tired (yawn). Did you see that? I just yawned. That proves I’m not making this up!

        (In the French accent from Spongebob) Several hours later…

        Oh look! Mildred found 138,955 ballots under her desk! And they’re all for Biden! She must have dropped them there last night before going home for some much needed sleep.

        Nothing suspicious here. Let’s all grab some coffee and a donut from the snack table and get back to the counting. Our nation depends on us!!


    • First of many to come…
      Remember, they have to “study” the shit out of something until the original conclusion has been lost and nobody has a clue as to what is going on…

  2. “Consumers of legal firearms may be a different population from consumers of illegal firearms.”

    Isn’t this the case in nearly every aspect of life’s activities?

  3. Well I just could not find it in myself to vote for the man whose party owns the legacy of slavery, segregation, Jim Crow, the KKK, lynching, Eugenics, Gun Control and other race based atrocities. Atrocities that belong to the democRat Party make today’s actions from a few bad cops appear tame in comparison.
    Will joe biden and his democRat Party ilk ever address the despicable race based atrocities their party owns and make Monetary Reparations? They can afford it. Look at the milions the democRat Party spent on get out the vote ads directed at everyone who relates to people who were clearly history illiterate and politically inept.
    You have to be history illiterate and politically inept to ever vote for a democRat and no one knows that better than the race baiting democRat Party. What Filth.

    • Politicians never use their own money. Have you read any of the books by Kurt Schlichter ? Some of them are Indian Country, Collapse, Peoples Republic. In the Preface of these books, he warns us about what our future in this country will be like if things do not change and he seems to be on the money as to what’s going to pass.

  4. “Consumers of legal firearms may be a different population from consumers of illegal firearms.”


    The obvious does not need generalization.


    • That’s not even two guns per person. How are we to bear arms(plural) if one is not holding a firearm? Obviously we are slacking in manufacturing and need to ensure that supply catches up with this shortage.

  5. “Consumers of legal firearms may be a different population from consumers of illegal firearms.”

    That’s kind of like saying connoisseurs of fine wines may be a different population from winos who guzzle Thunderbird.

  6. People who are not felonious, crackhead degenerates behave differently from people who are felonious, crackhead degenerates.

    • Is the criminal use of firearms caused by the criminals that use them?

      What will they think of next? What is their next pearl of wisdom?

  7. Musta taken a fucking genius to figure that out…..No wonder why the country is going to hell!

  8. I wish that writers would drop the tired trope of Chicago having very strict gun control laws. That hasn’t been true since McDonald v. Chicago a decade ago, after which the state imposed a ban on local regulation, with some exceptions for pre-existing regs prior to the effective date of the law. Chicago is shall issue on CCWs in compliance with state law, and its handgun ban is dumped in the ash can of history.

  9. The logic underpinning any gun control measure is always the same: remove the guns from law-abiding people, and the risk of one of those law-abiding people just “going off and launching a killing rampage” drops to near zero. And no, there is no benefit to worrying over gangs and criminals having guns because it is rare for non-gang members and non-criminals to come out of their jungle, and start shooting law-abiding people.

    The effective means of reducing crime in crime-ridden localities is to provide safe spaces where such people can practice their trade without the unhelpful stress of fearing arrest and conviction. Trained public health specialists can be assigned to these “shooting galleries” to offer different chemical and psychological programs to allow those who choose to find pathways to non-violent behaviors “a way back” to non-criminal lives.

    Give peace a chance.

  10. Just more proof that having an advance degree doesn’t necessarily make one any more intelligent.

    Sure hope that “study” wasn’t taxpayer funded.

  11. Studies like this definitely prove one thing beyond doubt:

    This country has way too many useless academics with too much time on their hands.

  12. “Gun Owners are Different Than Criminals”

    It doesn’t matter. The new administration is going to treat us like criminals. It’s up to us not to disappoint them.

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