School Shootings Less Likely In States With Background Checks For Guns And Ammunition. Allegedly.

“In another week, it will be the fourth anniversary of the Sandy Hook Elementary massacre in Newtown, Connecticut,” Tara Haelle writes at, “an incident seared into the minds of parents across the U.S. who cannot forget that 20 first-graders were gunned down in what should be a safe space for learning.”

When a writer begins a piece on a new “gun violence” study by waving the bloody shirt, when the article’s accompanied by a picture like the one above, it’s a sure sign that both the “report” and the study upon which it is based are little more than anti-gun agitprop. And away we go!

Now a new study looks at what state-level factors might play a role in the likelihood of such incidents at other schools, colleges and universities.

School shootings happen least often, the study found, in states that spend the most on K-12 education and mental health services and that have background checks for firearm and ammunition purchases. The study also found that school shootings are happening more often, up to one a week.

Altogether now: correlation does not equal causation. Like this:

And this:

This study explores potential protective factors against school shootings, but it’s not the kind of study that can show whether any of those factors directly cause a higher or lower risk of school shootings. Instead, the findings provide insight into avenues where more research might be helpful.

Given the disclaimer — essentially admitting that the school shooting study proves absolutely nothing (other than the Bloomberg-financed “researchers'” anti-gun bias)  — what’s up with the headline? Equally, why did Forbes “report” this study without any independent analysis?

Not to put too fine a point on it, Ms. Haelle’s article is yet another example of political pandering based on prevaricating press release pablum. Just in case you missed it at the top of her post, Ms. Haelle redelivers the supposed money shot:

School shootings were about half as likely in states with firearm background checks, but only 14 states in 2013 had some form of background check for buying firearms outside of a federally licensed firearms dealer, who are already federally required to run background checks. In five of these states, the background checks were only required for handgun purchases but not for long guns or assault weapons. Requiring background checks to buy ammunition was linked to an even lower likelihood of school shootings: states with those laws were 89% less likely to have a school shooting.

After dropping that “bombshell,” the Forbe’s piece backpedals — again. Furiously. And then finishes with an emotional appeal by the study’s lead author Bindu Kalesan, Ph.D., assistant professor of medicine and director of the Center for Translational Epidemiology and Comparative Effectiveness Research at Boston University School of Medicine. Who received her master’s degree in public health and another in epidemiology from the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health.

“These are the direct victims. There are also indirect victims, families and communities that surround these unfortunate persons,” Kalesan said. “It is important to take an honest look at those who are left behind, the ones who have lived to survive the bullets through them, children who have seen their peers and important people in their life shot dead, and those who live a compromised life after their shooting with disabilities and mental health problems.”

Kalesan believes it is essential to have federal-level background checks for firearm and ammunition purchases, something similar to the recent law passed in California that requires all firearm sales, including private sales, to go through a a licensed dealer.

“The victims of these shootings and the survivors are currently celebrated, but their plight in life is difficult,” Kalesan said. “What are we doing as a society to take care of those who have been exposed to such devastating traumatic events?”

Hardening the targets (schools)? Arming teachers? Repealing the Gun Free School Zones Act? These are common sense steps that increase security, requiring little in the way of statistical analysis for justification.

Meanwhile, Bloomberg and his minions continue to lobby for state and federal Universal Background Checks — a clear infringement on Americans’ constitutionally protected gun rights — without any real evidence of their prophylactic effect on school shootings. Or “gun violence.” Go figure.


  1. avatar Chip Bennett says:

    The study also found that school shootings are happening more often, up to one a week.

    This line tells me everything I need to know about this “study”: it is taking the already well-debunked Everytown/Bullying Mommies “data” regarding what constitutes a “school shooting”.

    Garbage in: garbage out.

    1. avatar nativeson says:

      It’s always best to ask yourself three things when you’re presented with a ‘study’ like this one? Who did the study? Who funded it? And upon what objective facts is the study based? Because statistics can be twisted in any number of ways to reach a pre-determined conclusion.

      1. avatar Trrash says:

        Statistics do not lie….
        Staticians lie!

    2. avatar c4v3man says:

      We had a “School Shooting” reported by the local media yesterday at Hug High in Reno, NV… some kid with a knife was shot by a police officer, hence school shooting. I suppose the only answer is to take guns away from the police?

  2. avatar Swilson says:

    Paraphrasing here but:

    “States with more water have more drownings!” – Ted Nugent

  3. avatar Dave says:

    Background checks are unconstitutional and fail to catch anyone but the very very very stupid Criminal. They’ve been proven 2 absolutely do nothing to prevent crime. Law-abiding citizens are the only people who use them criminals by definition acquire their guns like any other Criminal buys them off the street. Absolutely ridiculous to think that a felon is going to go into a gun shop and fill out the background check paperwork that’s just ridiculously stupid to think that they would do that. Absolutely useless waste of $5. And I hate these ads for free shipping at burnell’s at the bottom of the pages that’s horrible I know you got to advertise but it’s right in the middle of everything.

  4. avatar jwtaylor says:

    Looks like Forbes and the NY Times aren’t comparing notes. Otherwise they would have seen that the vast majority, and ALL of the mass school shootings involved guns from people who had either passed a federal background check or stolen from someone who had passed a background check.
    Since that’s settled, how would requiring background checks help? In literally every single case, the NY Times, of all papers, proves that it would not have.

  5. avatar LarryinTX says:

    “Requiring background checks to buy ammunition was linked to an even lower likelihood of school shootings:”

    How wonderful! I guess the author just forgot to mention how many states have such unconstitutional laws, and for how long they have had them. I am pretty sure that in states where you have to undergo a prefrontal lobotomy before buying reloading equipment, there have been absolutely zero school shootings in the past million years. Literally! In fact, I would bet money on it, and give you 10-1 odds into the bargain. Do these dweebs really think they are that sly, we are so stupid?

  6. avatar John says:

    We don’t need no stinkin’ facts! Note that we are dealing with a statistically small sample. When we begin stratifying it, the sub samples are even smaller. This makes it even less likely we can find a significant difference, even when the apparent differences are large. The best answer seems to be to lock up or kill the evil or crazy people. How about someone examining our low rate of mental confinement compared to “enlightened” Europe?

    1. avatar pg2 says:

      Playing with sample sizes is an effective means to manipulate data and studies. Here’s a quote from Dr. Horton, the Editor in Chief of the Lancet, one of the most respected medical peer reviewed journals in the world.

      “The case against science is straightforward: much of the scientific literature, perhaps half, may simply be untrue. Afflicted by studies with small sample sizes, tiny effects, invalid exploratory analyses, and flagrant conflicts of interest, together with an obsession for pursuing fashionable trends of dubious importance, science has taken a turn towards darkness.”

  7. avatar pg2 says:

    “Statistics don’t lie, but statisticians do.” -Unknown author.

    1. avatar Rick says:

      I believe Mark Twain popularized something to the extent of:

      There are lies, damn lies, and statistics.

      1. avatar YAR0892 says:

        I thought that was one of Franklin’s…?

        1. avatar Anon says:


        2. avatar c4v3man says:

          “Never trust quotes you read on the internet” – Abraham Lincoln

        3. avatar Button Gwinnett says:

          Sir Charles Wentworth Dilke, 1891. The Disraeli attribution is, I think, erroneous.

          But what do I know? I copied and pasted that from some website somewhere. And like Benjamin Franklin said, “Copy and paste if your brain you would waste.”

  8. avatar Matt says:

    You know what was in effect when Newtown happened? A background check and waiting period being required. It allegedly deterred a retail sale but didn’t stop the shooting.

  9. avatar mk10108 says:

    liars lie then get paid.

  10. avatar Al says:

    Two for one: not only complete BS propaganda but also an appeal for more “research” (pimping for the cash, baby).

  11. avatar NorincoJay says:

    “Don’t trust anti-gun owner articles on the internet.” George Washington

  12. avatar Davis Thompson says:

    School shooting as defined by the media, or public mass shooting as defined by the FBI at a school?

    How many states have functioning background checks for ammo purchases? Four which require a firearms license to purchase. New York’s ammo background check system isn’t up and running.

    So an incredibly rare event and a tiny sample of states. I pronounce this study so much garbage.

  13. avatar Chris75 says:

    Background checks would not have stopped Newtown. He stole the guns!

  14. avatar anonymoose says:

    WTF, there were no states that require background checks for ammunition until California enacted a law THIS PAST SUMMER, and that won’t do anything to stop gangbangers and crazies from hurting people.

  15. avatar Burley says:

    can anyone find a conclusive list of states where background checks are required to buy ammo?

  16. avatar Roymond says:

    I can believe that having mental health services available for all could have an impact, but I have yet to see any solid evidence for either that or the rest of the claims.

  17. avatar Garrison Hall says:

    “Sensible gun control” is the classic slippery slope. Remove enough individual freedom, create homeostasis, and you’ll have a wonderfully safe society. Only, then, nobody would want to live there.

    To repeat an old slogan: “Freedom Ain’t For Free”.

  18. avatar Mort says:

    The other one I lovvvve, because for 25years I have been surrounded by evil child-hating guns in my home (…some even loaded FFS!), is this abracadabra shit my sisters & cousins always drone on about (except below I fill in my own “facts,” though y’all will see it with a red dot from 1500yds away…):

    “We’re concerned about (your toes). Studies clearly show that (lawnmower) owners are (1673.84%) more likely to (chop their toes off) with their own (lawnmowers) than people who live in households that don’t have a (lawnmower).” And ya, I usually do get blank stares like I just broke out into a Hebrew soliloquy when I say, “Gotcha, okay… but what is the percentage of (lawnmower) owners that (chop their toes off) compared to the other (lawnmower) owners whose (toes remain intact) when counting the total number of (lawnmowers) and (lawnmower) owners in Murica? ….mmmkay.”

    But fk it, it’s Christmas. So maybe the grass really is greener and less drenched in blood on the Other Side… I’ll think about it for another 25 years. Meantime.. toes are fine. Guns are fine, too. Be safe.

  19. avatar Aaron M. Walker says:

    So this is in fact “FAKE NEWS ” from the Liberal Pro-aggressive$ !

  20. avatar Fred Frendly says:

    Did these pinheads ever consider that transportation makes their ridiculous arguments moot?

    Sandy Hook shooter took the guns from his liberal moms house after killing her. Then, without a license or any apparent experience driving, he drove himself to a school he never attended and his mom never worked at, using combat tactics did a forced entry, gunned down everyone in his path doing tactical AR15 reloads, and shot himself before there was any response time from LE. All this from a skinny kid who was by all accounts a barely functional misfit.

    Tell me again how strict gun control would have prevented this event.

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