bogus gun research
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By Robert B. Young, MD

Here’s one that made The Daily Mail March 26, telling us that “More U.S. children were killed with guns in 2017 than police officers and military personnel COMBINED”. This, from the Anglo world leader in knife assaults and mounting violent crime since it banned most firearms and the right to defend with them.

Indeed, the lede is factual. About 1,144 law enforcement officers and military personnel were killed on duty in 2017—fewer than any year’s shooting deaths of 5 to 18 year olds since 1999, fewer even than those of 15 to 18 year olds. Of course, to start with, the common notion of “children” is not generally 15 to 18 year olds. But it makes a great headline.

We don’t even have to look at the original research. Daily Mail “social affairs” reporter Valerie Bauman tells more than she understood in graphs. You’ll see that 2013 had the lowest number of 15 to 18 year old shooting deaths since 1999; 5-14 year olds had an average number for the period, but together choosing the year 2013 to compare to 2017 gave the most dramatic change to publicize. There have been wide variations above and below their means since 1999. If we looked at 1999 versus 2017, the conclusion would have been that there has been no change, just as deceptive a finding as theirs implying a new dramatic death spiral.

Most died in assaults, about 1/3 by suicide and just 5% by accidents. As we might surmise, knowing where “gun violence” is endemic, black youth are far more often the victims than whites, especially among 15-18 year olds.

Cherry-picking data and stating painfully obvious descriptive facts gets us no nearer helping these young people, many of whom would be attacking each other or killing themselves by other means if necessary. (Hanging is becoming increasingly popular among suicidal teens, for example.)

Next, U.S. News & World Report reassured us March 21 about a “Study: Stricter Gun Laws Linked to Safer High Schools”. This came from the Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health, a British medical publications that is peer-reviewed yet routinely overlooks the reality that laws don’t cramp bad actors’ style. The original is available here.

The heart of their claims is “that strengthening gun laws at the state level was associated with teens being less likely to report being threatened or injured with a weapon at school, or missing school because they felt unsafe. Stricter gun laws were also linked less incidences of students carrying a weapon anywhere.” But it ain’t necessarily so.

To begin with, they used a gun law rating methodology that gave any restrictive law +1 and any law easing firearm availability (including limiting manufacturer liability!) a -1. (Absence of a law = 0.) This equates all measures regardless of reach and impact. Because the great majority of laws affecting firearm possession and use are restrictive, this technique always emphasizes the presence of gun control and deemphasizes the effect of fewer laws period. It also ignores that gun laws have varying, if any, effects, and that no one knows which matter more. Thus, it’s all or nothing.

The “researchers” did not do original research. They assembled data for 1999 to 2015 from the CDC’s Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance Survey which asks 900,000+ high school students every 2 years to report their incidence of carrying weapons in school, how often they were threatened or injured, and how many school days they missed due to fear or carrying weapons (where?). They also rated the 45 states surveyed on their gun laws in each of the survey years. They say they controlled for age, sex, race, unemployment and crime rates.

Sixteen percent of students on average reported carrying weapons anywhere (but this was supposed to be about school). “Stricter laws” were associated with slightly less frequent reports of being threatened at school or carrying weapons anywhere. But they “do not observe a significant association between gun laws and weapon carrying at school”, which should be the main thing. And lots of other things changed for students over those 17 years…how schools are administered, increased attention to the risk of attacks, changes in neighborhood environments around the schools, and our culture in general and the micro-cultures of those kids’ peer groups. Most of all, the high schoolers surveyed were different every two years.

To their credit, they were trying to correlate the self-reports with their assessment of gun laws as they changed each year, so it is better than just a cross-sectional, single-point-in-time observation. Also to their credit, they point out that “Specific measures of firearm violence at school were not available and . . . the only direct question on gun carrying was not asked in a large number of states.” Both of these are gaping holes in their data.

There were over 14 million high school students in 1999 and well over 15 million in 2015. A 7% sample for a national survey is commendable, but 11 states plus the District of Columbia were not even covered (Colorado, Hawaii, Minnesota, Oregon, Utah, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, West Virginia, Wisconsin and Wyoming). The data obtained did not cover each state of the remaining 39 throughout all survey years.

handgun calibers bullets cartridges
SW500Guy [CC BY-SA 4.0], via Wikimedia Commons
Finally, more for grins, here’s one from the Journal of the American Medical Association in July 2018 recently pointed out by a DRGO member: “The Association of Firearm Caliber With Likelihood of Death From Gunshot Injury in Criminal Assaults”.

Yes, Virginia, there is an association that only dedicated public health researchers could possibly have discerned. The larger the caliber, the greater “the likelihood of death from gunshot wounds in criminal assault.” (The series examined were all shooting deaths and a random sample of injuries recorded by Boston police from 2010 through 2014.)

While it was not their chosen “lane” for this paper, they did state a central problem unsusceptible to correction by gun laws: “Most gunshot victims and survivors were young minority men with [criminal histories]. Most attacks occurred . . . where gangs or drugs played an important role . . . Most were in outdoor locations in the disadvantaged Boston neighborhoods.”

But being shot indoors was much more likely lethal, 2.6 times more than being shot outdoors. Being shot in the head or neck was quite a bit more likely to kill rather than in other parts of the body. All these factors, we know, correlate with the biggest problem—gang murders.

The calibers were virtually all typical handgun rounds, everything from .22 up to 10 mm. (Weapons were not identified. They were not always found, but some rounds could also have been used in some rifles, a fact they don’t seem to recognize, calling all but the 7.62 “handgun” shootings). There were only three shootings with .44 Magnum and, interestingly, just one, fatal shooting with the 7.62 x39mm exclusively rifle bullet.

And, mirabile dictu, “the intrinsic power and lethality of the weapon had a direct effect on the likelihood that a victim of a criminal shooting died.”

Their preferred interpretation is that “The result is [there would have been] a 39.5% reduction . . . in the gun homicide rate if the same shootings had occurred but with small-caliber weapons, rather than the actual mix of small, medium, and large calibers.”

So they find that “regulation of firearms could reduce the homicide rate” by outlawing higher caliber firearms—another example of the incremental approach to banning guns. Or perhaps we should promote “replacing all types of guns with knives or clubs” for even “larger reductions.” But they’re correct in concluding that no “particular regulation would [necessarily] satisfy a cost-benefit test”—because they never consider benefits.

This paper accomplishes nothing more than to validate a truth shooters have known for generations: Carry a gun with the biggest, hardest hitting caliber you can shoot accurately. That’s the benefit advantage for millions of safe, responsible legal gun owners that overrides everything else in this “research”.

However, that and a dollar won’t buy you a cup of coffee anymore. But millions in hoplophobic billionaire funding will get you plenty more publications like these!


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 originally appeared at and is reprinted here with permission. 

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  1. ‘The calibers were virtually all typical handgun rounds, everything from .22 up to 10 mm… There were only three shootings with .44 Magnum…’

    I would have guessed the .44 magnum was a ‘typical’ handgun round, but apparently it’s an extraordinary handgun round.

      • Get a model 57 in 41 mag. It shaves off a few ounces. Ounces – pounds = pain,

        Also, taking one in the chest from a 41 magnum = pain

        • OK – How do we get to the edit button? The “-” should have been “=”.

        • For some reason you have to check the box next to ‘Save my name, email, and website in this browser for the next time I comment.’

        • “OK – How do we get to the edit button? ”

          After you compose your comment, just below you will see some boxes to check – Check the one that says “Save my name, email, and website in this browser for the next time I comment.”

          You still have to check each and *every* time you comment…

    • Well, since they know nothing, and .44 is a smaller number than .45…and they couldn’t find anything when they searched ‘Glock44’ it must therefore be a rare, odd, unused, and relegated round 🙂

  2. Anytime an advocate begins a sentence with the phrase “studies show” that should be an automatic signal that what they are doing is shuck-and-jive propaganda. The antidote is simple. All you have to do is say, “that’s not true” and then present your own viewpoint. There’s no point in getting into a data-debate with an advocate because they’re much more interested in the immediate polemics of their statement. Just tell them they don’t know what the hell they’re talking about and make your People Of The Gun counter argument. They really hate that.

  3. Seems that we have a constitutional rights problem in this country because of the government that our founding fathers warned us about.

  4. Good catch about that 2013 to 2017 stats comparison. So I gather 2013 was unusually low. The left always pulls that BS.

  5. Heizer Defense will chamber your 7.63×39 in a handgun.

    And ban calibers . . . ok, you gonna ban my reloading press too?

    • “regulation of firearms could reduce the homicide rate” by outlawing higher caliber firearms…”

      This after admitting earlier that the majority of these homicides were gang-related.

      So THIS TIME the criminals are going to pay attention to your law banning certain pistol calibers. Yeah, and they’ll probably show up at your “gun buyback” to turn in all those now illegal pistols.

  6. WAIT, Wait, wait…
    You mean the Kavanaugh is a rapist, Convington Kid is a racist,
    the Commies bought the Races, never retract, never apologize, “it’s not our job to investigage” mainstream American journalists are lying to us, solely to forward an agenda?!
    I’m shocked; SHOCKED, I say!

  7. Hell’s Bell’s a few years ago these SOBs were trying to include people up to the age of 21 as “Children”. 25% 0f gun crimes take place in 4 cities, Detroit, Chicago, Baltimore and Washington, D.C. and about 50% of murders occur in about 5% of the counties in the country. Sounds like a drug and gang problem to me. Outlaw guns and guess what will be smuggled in with the drug the cartels ship here.

    • Imagine if we followed the logic you just presented and stopped outlawing drugs. The gangs would have less to fight over…

  8. The New York Times has for a couple of days been running an article about this study into the lethality of bigger handgun calibers. As I mentioned before, these people leave no stone unturned.

  9. The propaganda wing of the Leftists resort to the same lies and distortions,when one doesn’t have truth and facts behind them they are left with nothing else.

  10. “Figures often beguile me, particularly when I have the arranging of them myself; in which case the remark attributed to Disraeli would often apply with justice and force:

    “There are three kinds of lies: lies, damned lies and statistics.”

    Mark Twain

  11. Interesting this physician notes the weaknesses in epidemiological studies and also notes how studies outcomes can be determined by cherry launching data, leading to author bias. I wonder if he knows the entire pediatric vaccine safety premise is built on epidemiological studies comparing vaccinated groups against other vaccinated groups? And the vast majority of these studies are performed and paid for by the companies producing the vaccines? Would he write the same article describing the flaws and weaknesses of the vaccine program using the same points?

    • That statement is idiotic. After seeing infants and toddlers die from complications of HIB meningitis, measles, and other preventable diseases, I can telll you that vaccines work, and extremely well. When is the last time you feared going out in public because you might catch polio? Make sure to peddle this kind of nonsense to people who are stupid, not to 2A supporters!

      • Pro 2 P…. I wish you the best of luck arguing with Pg… wrestling with a pig will only get you dirty as you are about to find out 😄

        Speaking as one pediatrician to another…. don’t let the AAP know you exist :0

      • Some vaccines do seem effective in preventing the infection they’re designed to prevent. I’ll give you that. Some not so much. Bottom line is do the benefits of vaccine outweighs the risks, and no honest doctor, scientist or logician could say so. No pediatric vaccine has ever been safety tested against an inert placebo, so any belief you have about pediatric vaccine safety is wishful thinking.

      • Btw, when was the last time you saw a death from a measles complication? In the last 10 years there was was 0-1 measles fatality in the US…that was your patient? You wouldn’t be lying…would you? How many MMR vaccine related deaths have been reported to VAERS in the last 10 years….do you even know what VAERS is? And do you know Health and Human Services commisioned a study through Harvard and found that less than 1% of adverse vaccine reactions are reported? There were over 400 vaccine related deaths reported to VAERS last year alone. Do the math pediatric gun owner…..

        • You are neither a gentleman nor a scholar. Only leftists use such tactics, so why keep getting involved in TTAG discussions if your only goal is to be an a-hole who spews conspiracy theories about things you truly know nothing about. I don’t need to justify my life experiences for your sake, as you wouldn’t believe me, regardless. Let it go! You are worse than the media not being able to drop the Trump/Russia stuff. Have your Mom make you some breakfast and go back to your basement, troll!

        • Fake pediatrician comes unhinged😂. You made several lies that couldn’t be left unanswered. Nice touch with the trump/Russia reference, but I suppose you failed to
          Make the connection that the same people accusing trump of collision with Russia also accused people online questioning the lack of vaccine safety science of being Russian trolls.

  12. Journalists are innumerate. When you talk to journalists and you mention two numbers in the same breath, you can see in their eyes sheer panic rise inside them. They were promised, many times throughout their schooling, that there would be “no math!” required to be a journalist.

    Studies, even social sciences studies, need math to conduct, math to review and math to properly interpret and cite as evidence. Journalists are mathematically incapable of doing any of this, especially where advanced statistical math is concerned. They not only conflate correlation with causation, but then we have those journalists who then claim that “correlation does not equal causation” forgetting that where you can prove causation, you’re going to generally see higher levels of correlation. You’ve just proven that there’s a causation involved in the correlation, that’s all.

    Journalists cite studies of all sorts of rubbish all the time without having any mathematical ability to say “Wait a sec… that’s not what I would expect.” or “Waitaminnute… you’re making a statistical claim with an effect so high, the Cohen’s d is around 0.8? Yeaaa…. riiiiight. Let’s see your raw dataset and how you massaged it…”

    Then there are the telltale signs of “p-hacking” – which sail right over journalists’ heads.

    As a result, there are researchers who are tailoring studies to garner headlines:

    Right there, you’re seeing outright academic fraud, pitched with conclusions that the researchers know will gain them column-inches in the popular press. Social sciences, in general, have very poor mathematical methodologies in their research, and if you have the background in stats and math, and you read the details in actual studies cited by the press on “gun violence,” crime, suicides, etc – you find that the press often is mis-stating the conclusions of some studies, while missing the statistical methodology errors in others.

    The biggest reasons why journalists continue to do this is a) they have an ideological axe they want to grind – ie, they have a conclusion already, they’re just seeking to justify their position, b) journalists are innumerate, and cannot read statistical papers, and c) journalists are ignorant of larger trends, existing gun laws, past studies, etc. Most journalists today are in their 20’s, and they think the universe just finished forming about 26 years ago. How many times in the last five years have we had to explain “that’s already the law” to journalists who are too damn lazy to learn what the law already says?

    Again, as someone who has been around the RKBA issue for decades, I’m going to tell you that we’ve been through this in the 90’s. It took a fair bit of work on our part to dissect studies (which you had to order, for real money, from academic journals, because there was no Internet) and take apart their mathematics. The classic was the old “if you have a gun in your home, you’re X times more likely to be killed with your own gun than use it for self-defense…” (the Kellerman study) and so on.

    We need to tell journalists when they’re wrong, and in a way that leaves no room for equivocation.

  13. Regarding the gun laws and school safety study, I.wonder if it ever occur to the authors to maybe examine the increasing proportion of metal detectors in inner city schools over the years they studied?

    I would think that that alone would account for much more of the reduction in violence, as opposed to more laws being passed during that span of time. Correlation does not equal causation after all…

  14. Once again, an article which refuses to speak ill of the dead. For instance, let’s look at the victims of criminal “gun violence” aka murder. Over 60% of murder victims are criminals. It might be as high as 85%. In 2013, the Police Chief of New Orleans said 62% of murder victims nationally have criminal records. A study in Milwaukee reported 76% of murder victims have an “extensive” criminal record. Its speculation, but I’m pretty sure the murder criminals was connected to their criminal activities. If we use the low end, in 2017, only 4013 innocent people were murdered not 10,560.

    Both sides of the gun debate do not want to admit to this fact. For anti-gunners, this fact proves the average gunowner is not likely to murder anyone. Also, the majority of murder victims are black, which is a key constietancy the Democratic Party, the chief backer of the anti-gun coalition. Before I’m called a racist, crime is the result of socio-ecomonic class and predilection to crime, not the color of your skin.

    For pro gun side, this fact can be seen by the low information voter as proof the average citizen doesn’t need a gun. This is understandable, since the media ignores the 100,000 to 2 million defensive gun usages a year, where it’s unlikely a shot is fire or the police are called. Or the fact that if law abiding citizens were disarmed, it wouldn’t take long for criminals to figure this out.

    • Damn right. Dead criminals get included in all these statistics even though their mommas told them not to borrow somebody’s tv set or hang around in the parking lot of a bar buying meth at 2 am.

    • Your comment sort of gives credence the following fictitious quote;
      “Murder was in fact a fairly uncommon event in Ankh-Morpork, but there were a lot of suicides. Walking in the night-time alleyways of The Shades was suicide. Asking for a short in a dwarf bar was suicide. Saying ‘Got rocks in your head?’ to a troll was suicide. You could commit suicide very easily, if you weren’t careful.”
      ― Terry Pratchett, Men at Arms

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