The Science is Settled: Research Shows Gun Control Laws Do Not Reduce Violent Crime or Suicides

Dr. Garen Wintemute (AP Photo/Rich Pedroncelli, File)

By Robert B. Young, MD

Doctors for Responsible Gun Ownership sees lots of “studies” marketed as gun control justification that we don’t have time to report on in detail, though they all should be. Thankfully, they often are reviewed by other Second Amendment advocates. We thought we’d catch up on a few.

“California’s comprehensive background check and misdemeanor violence prohibition policies and firearm mortality” by Daniel Webster, ScD, MPH, Garen Wintemute, MD, MPH, et al, in February’s Annals of Epidemiology.

We love this one, because it is one of the few from either the Johns Hopkins School of Public Health (Webster) or UC-Davis (Wintemute) that is reasonably well designed, following changes in the same location over time (trend analysis) rather than comparing different locations at the same time (cross-sectional analysis).

They found that neither California’s comprehensive background checks (UBCs) nor it’s prohibition of misdemeanor violence conviction status for firearm purchases made any difference in the incidence of firearm homicides or suicides—i.e., in “gun violence”. They were left advocating for “permit to purchase”, naturally, an escalation of infringement rather than admitting that their “gun violence” solutions are not.

Pair this with January’s publication of DRGO member Dr. Mark Hamill’s group of “State Level Firearm Concealed-Carry Legislation and Rates of Homicide and Other Violent Crime” in the Journal of the American College of Surgeons.

Here, in another quality study comparing the trends before and after changing concealed-carry laws in all states, they found no correlation between these laws’ restrictiveness and rates of violent crime, “there was no significant association between shifts from restrictive to nonrestrictive carry legislation on violent crime and public health indicators.” We know that UBCs, tightening prohibiting criteria, and freer concealed carry laws do not cause increased violence.

Stir in confirmation by the CDC of Gary Kleck’s seminal work that there were easily over a million episodes of defensive gun uses (DGUs) each year during the 1990s (“Case Closed: Kleck is Still Correct”). That’s most of what we need to know to prove how valuable our responsibly armed citizenry is in keeping this country safe and more peaceful than not.

That’s without even checking Dr. John Lott’s Crime Prevention Research Center, where the rest of the work has already been done, or GunFacts which keeps track of everything there is to know about it.

Ah, but according to the CDC: School Homicide Rate Up Dramatically from 2009 to 2018. Even if we buy their numbers, this was 514 victims in 431 incidents overall through 24 years, or about 21 people per year. Each one is tragic, yet as national emergencies go, is this?

The CDC doesn’t track many causes of death with such little objective impact. We like to point out the more than 400,000 or more iatrogenic patient deaths each year that the health care professions are responsible for as meriting far greater attention from public-spirited doctors; this would be very much in their lane.

And we shouldn’t accept those numbers at face value. By dividing the types of killings into “single” and “multiple”, the authors are ignoring the standard historic FBI definition of “mass shootings”. That requires one or more perpetrators randomly shooting people unrelated to them in a public place, with at least 4 deaths not including the shooter(s). The CDC’s classification includes two or more fatalities, without reference to whom.

There were only 30 “multiple-victim” incidents killing 90 children ages 5–18 years old. (The age range is realistic, and relieving, because too many refer to “youth” up to 24 years old.) Obviously, nearly all of the victims were actually killed in single murders, which were nearly all purposeful and personal.

These “school homicides” occurred not only on school property, but also when the victims were “traveling to or from” any school or school-sponsored event. It doesn’t clarify whether every attack had anything to do with these events. Media make far more of fewer than 4 victims of these not necessarily “school shootings” each year than public policy should.

The CDC researchers’ statement in the study reveals the agency’s unabated agenda to promote “gun violence” regulatory intervention: “A comprehensive approach to violence prevention is needed to reduce risk for violence on and off school grounds.”

CNN (of course) also reports that “Handguns are more popular in US homes, with deadly consequences for children” 1 to 5 years old. This refers to “Family Firearm Ownership and Firearm-Related Mortality Among Young Children: 1976–2016” published in Pediatrics in February. Now there is a good point made by the end of the article, that the intervention that counts is to ensure that unsupervised children cannot access our firearms.

But the implication is that increasing numbers of handguns themselves (and not also increasing numbers of long guns?) are responsible. Besides that being nothing but correlation (≠ causation, remember), they are assuming that “changes in firearm ownership from predominantly rifles to handguns” has occurred. No one knows which class predominates, even though there are increasing sales of handguns.

“Child deaths from firearms [sic] . . . were on the decline until 2001” then have increased . . . “over the past decade from 0.36 per 100,000 children ages 1 to 4 to 0.63 per 100,000.” Now there were 80 deaths from all gun-related causes in the United States in the age group 1 to 4 years old in 2017.

If we’re concerned about a 75% increase to 80, that means 46 deaths at baseline. Given the overall death rate of 25.3 per 100,000 for these ages in 2016, a change in such small numbers of .27 per 100,000 is not what we’d call a public health crisis—it’s a rounding error. (The point is valid even though years 2016 and 2017 were used here.)

 

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 drgo.us and is reprinted here with permission. 

comments

  1. avatar GlockMeAmadeus says:

    These facts and figures do not correlate to Democrat math. So, these numbers will be ignored and the same people who produced Obamacare will provide “updated” figures “more closer to reality.”

    How many fingers do you see, Winston?

    1. avatar Jean-Luc Picard says:

      THERE! ARE! FOUR! LIGHTS!

    2. avatar Greg says:

      “There’s just one. It’s the same one that I showed you before this deprivation experience started. It’s the same one I will show you until I die.”

    3. avatar CWT says:

      Common Core, where you don’t have to get the right answer just the correct one.

  2. avatar Pg2 says:

    Hey, we just had 10’s of people in WA state catch the measles and it was declared an emergency. If we accept this, how can we not accept the CDCs numbers of 21 school shootings/year as an emergency?

    1. avatar M1Lou says:

      Anymore, everything is an emergency because it’s gives a government agency a reason to exist. So they paint the picture that they are really imortar and have to react fast or the universe might end.

    2. avatar Lawbob says:

      Because measles spreads if left unaddressed.

      Moreover 10-20 measles cases is in one state.

      21 is nationwide.

      1. avatar Pg2 says:

        Ok. So you see a very small handful of harmless rash/fever cases as a state of emergency, how can you blame the government and public for wanting to ban firearms from the public when they are causing 21 fatalities per year in schools? Just trying to follow your logic.

      2. avatar Swarf says:

        Don’t do it, lawbob, he’s an antivaxxer tar-baby.

        1. avatar bobinmi says:

          Thanks for the warning swarf. I was about to get sucked in. I’d go to war for these moron’s right to not vaccinate but christ they are stupid.

        2. avatar Pg2 says:

          Tar- baby? You recycled a 1970’s racist epithet? You make gun owners look bad. Really bad. You and serge have a contest to see who can make us look worse on-line?

        3. avatar Pg2 says:

          Bobinmi, his real warning was to avoid answering my question, because the answer would expose the ignorance and hypocrisy many posters on this forum exhibit when it comes to preserving individual liberties.

        4. avatar Swarf says:

          A tar-baby is a reference to a book that is itself a retelling of African (yes, that’s right) folklore and means a problem that only becomes more entangling the more one engages it.

          The only time it’s taken as racial is when some ignoramus decides it must be racist because it sounds racist. In other words, the racism is in the accuser’s head. Sound familiar?

        5. avatar Dennis Sumner says:

          Waiting for ya to say that! Good job.

        6. avatar Pg2 says:

          Might be the funniest thing ever on this forum…”Dennis” replying to swarf immediately that he’s glad he posted that…..dude, when you use multiple profiles, try to be a little less obvious. Funny shit.

    3. avatar Gadsden says:

      Must you really have to thread hijack and turn everything on a GUN BLOG into a debate about medicine!?!?

      1. avatar Pg2 says:

        It’s was written by a physician and posted on DRGO. If you don’t see the relevance can’t help you.

  3. avatar WI Patriot says:

    “The Science is Settled: Research Shows Gun Control Laws Do Not Reduce Violent Crime or Suicides”

    Well, we all know that if it doesn’t fit the narrative, or their agenda, liberals don’t believe in science…

    1. avatar pwrserge says:

      Hey… we all know that the left flat out makes up science when it suits them… Remember this gem?

      “97% of climate scientists agree that climate change is caused by humans and is getting worse.”

      What it should really say…

      “97% of climate scientists who have expressed an opinion on the source of climate change agree, that it is caused by humans. However, 66% of scientists agree that there is insufficient data to reliably attribute the cause, extent, or severity of climate change.”

      1. avatar pg2 says:

        “we all know that the left flat out makes up science when it suits them”…Is that where you learned how to do the same? funny stuff.

  4. avatar OBOB says:

    “””Ah, but according to the CDC: School Homicide Rate Up Dramatically from 2009 to 2018. Even if we buy their numbers, this was 514 victims in 431 incidents overall through 24 years, or about 21 people per year. Each one is tragic, yet as national emergencies go, is this?””””

    Hummm I wonder what changed??

    DACA anyone and the sudden influx of south of the border 20yo gangbangers pretending to be ‘nice’ kids in high schools????
    thanks Odumbutt!

    just like the WAVE of crime that hit LA in the mid 80’s when Reagan gave amnesty and basically said to the world…SNEAK into the USA, THEN stay long enough and you will become legal….fucking moron cowboy prez fucked that pooch!

    1. avatar James M. says:

      I’m not convinced by your argument that a rise in criminal immigrants is behind the rise in child mortality involving guns. I’d bet money that the relevant variable is the rise in single-parent households, with absent or exhausted single parents failing to supervise their children well, and failing to secure their weapons out of reach. It’s often not easy being a single parent, unable to afford housing in safer neighborhoods and unable to get enough rest.

      1. avatar SoCalJack says:

        This is my understanding of what is happening, in CA at least. My wife, an elementary Kinder teacher, sees a lot of kids, born in the US, from dysfunctional migrant families. Many of these kids do end up joining gangs, and gang violence is something CA politicians and left media don’t want on the front page.

    2. I do agree the invaders to help push the numbers up but it seems obama’s Anti-Discipline directive(aka Save A Thug) and his Dear Colleague letter (aka Save Another Thug) ate the winner in the School to Graveyard Pipeline contest.

  5. avatar Dennis Sumner says:

    Is there supposed to be a revelation here? The people who need to hear it, will just deny it. The die is cast!

    1. avatar coyote hunter says:

      You can lead a jackass(dem) to water, but you can’t make them drink….

  6. avatar Ed Schrade says:

    All this gun (people ) control that they preach would probably cure the measles if it was enacted. When I was growing up, the measles were a common disease that children got and it was just an inconvenience , not an emergency. Seems everyone in the medical and government communities wants us to think we cannot exist without their presence.

    1. avatar Randall Hart says:

      To the majority it is harmless but to some it affects the brain and causes severe development problems and does kill several per year, about 1 out of every thousand from last report that I saw.

  7. avatar TommyJay says:

    “Child deaths from firearms [sic] . . . were on the decline until 2001” then have increased . . . “over the past decade …

    This smells like “gun violence” stats. We know gang shootings have exploded in places like Chicago. Lot’s of people other than hard core gang members get shot, including little children. They want us to believe this is all about kids playing with dad’s guns, but that’s not how they structured the category.

    1. avatar GS650G says:

      They also move the age range up to include 19 year olds and even those just short of 21 as minors. Then the media paints it as 10 year olds playing with unsecured guns.

      1. avatar Patriot2G says:

        And then they want 16-year-olds to vote! Alinsky speaks and controls the left from the grave.

        1. avatar Dennis Sumner says:

          Hard to believe, isnt it?

  8. avatar Sam I Am says:

    Data, data, every where
    And all the laws did stink;
    Data, data every where,
    But lawgivers did not think.

    1. avatar Mad Max says:

      “But lawgivers did not think”; since 1792.

    2. avatar UpInArms says:

      Very good, but Coleridge is probably rolling over in his grave.

      1. avatar Sam I Am says:

        “Very good, but Coleridge is probably rolling over in his grave.”

        I know, I know. Hubris on my part.

        But I had to try.

        1. avatar John in AK says:

          Is that an albatross around your neck, or are you just glad to see me?

        2. avatar Sam I Am says:

          “Is that an albatross around your neck, or are you just glad to see me?’

          Zzzzziiiiinnnnnggggg !!

          Good one.

  9. avatar GS650G says:

    Locking up criminals who use guns and executing murderers is the only proven way to reduce crime by gun using criminals and murderers.
    Everything else is hope and pray.

    1. avatar Mark N. says:

      Locking up murderers for life is just as effective in reducing gun deaths as is executing them–and significantly less expensive.

      1. avatar Dennis Sumner says:

        You dont sentence a killer to life, you sentence them to death. 10 dollars worth of drugs, or 35,000 dollars a year for x number of years.

        1. avatar Toni says:

          could also be said $10 worth of rope which can be reused many times. the drugs cannot. I also say that the rope is just as if not more effective than the drugs

        2. avatar Cowboy Dan says:

          It’s not the drugs or the long term incarceration that’s expensive, it’s the mandatory appeals on shakier and shakier grounds and the fees charged by the attorneys on both sides of the courtrooms.

          I’m sure I’ve read that it costs over a million dollars to prosecute a death penalty case from arrest to execution. If your $35,000 estimated annual cost of incarceration is accurate, that’s almost thirty years of life behind bars before the costs balance.

          I’m not sure what percentage of condemned inmates is executed, but many die of old age or disease rather than the state’s chosen method of execution.

      2. avatar pwrserge says:

        A corpse can’t file appeals.

      3. avatar Wyantry says:

        I actually think the Maoists had the correct idea: a 29 cent cartridge judicially applied to the rear of the cranium is a much less expensive option. And permanent, too.

  10. avatar Patriot2G says:

    An armed society is a polite society.

    1. avatar Pg2 says:

      Lol, probably true, but still doesn’t lead to polite Internet forums.

      1. avatar Dennis Sumner says:

        We’re all polite till the trolls show up! Political correctness is a social disease, it needs to be eradicated.

  11. avatar former water walker says:

    SEE: Chiraq…TWO shootings on I-57 within a few hours. It’s agin the law😋

  12. avatar Bierce Ambrose says:

    I’m not sure I can credit a study that hasn’t been aged for 15-20 years before release per CDC protocol. Aged studies tase so much better: evey sell at a premium in the specialty shops.

    1. avatar Pg2 says:

      12 year studies seem to be the perfect vintage.

      1. avatar Perry says:

        Aye! I will not drink a single-malt “study” under 12 years! It’s just not civilized!

  13. avatar Alan says:

    What else is new? By the way, regarding revelations, mysterious or otherwise, in the northern hemisphere, it’s usually chilly in the month of December.

  14. avatar Alan says:

    One additional thought. Neither nutters nor criminals, for some reason, seem to pay particular attention to the laws that govern us ordinary, law abiding types. That said, isn’t it strange that our elected things keep piling ever more legislative rubbish on there law abiding, while at the same time they are unwilling or unable, perhaps both, to act against criminals.

    1. avatar Toni says:

      Like protects like

  15. avatar James says:

    For fuck’s sake. I’m 100% pro 2A, but don’t fucking lie to me. If laws didn’t reduce crime in a measurable way, then there would be no reason to have laws against anything. What you’re arguing here is demonstrably false and demonstrably stupid.

    1. avatar Vic Nighthorse says:

      Demonstrate it then.

    2. avatar Vic Nighthorse says:

      You don’t know where or how to begin, do you? The swearing made you look classy though, so you at least you got that;-)

      1. avatar Toni says:

        keep the laws simple and few with the penalties for breaking them harsh and the public tend to respect the law. Make them numerous and convoluted so only a lawyer specializing in a particular area of law can understand them with the penalties not so harsh and the public tends to ignore the law because they know that no matter what they do they will be breaking some small law that they know not about yet we are told that ignorance of the law is no excuse. This despite the fact that the laws are so numerous that it would take 5-10 lawyers to know every aspect of the law in their respective fields of expertise

        1. avatar uncommon_sense says:

          Toni,

          If only there were such a simple system that made it exceedingly easy to serve justice and punish evil-doers for what everyone commonly understands to be evil and destructive — we could call it Common Law. Oh, wait …

        2. avatar Toni says:

          Exactly my point 🙂 our forefathers made it such because of the very reasons i stated however those who love power and control dont like it such because it takes away their power and control

      2. avatar Vic Nighthorse says:

        Prohibition didn’t reduce the rate of alcoholism or alcohol related injuries or crime yet that was made part of the constitution. The notion that laws wouldn’t be enacted if they were effective at their stated objectives is ludicrous. Did the sodomy laws reduce sodomy?

        1. avatar coyote hunter says:

          Exactly….Where has a gun law ever stopped a criminal or a crime involving a gun worked?

        2. avatar Sam I Am says:

          “Where has a gun law ever stopped a criminal or a crime involving a gun worked?”

          Impossible to know. What we can know is the number of criminals determined to violate gun laws. Why more don’t, we cannot discover.

        3. avatar Pg2 says:

          You’re cherry picking. If stealing wasn’t illegal, and taking others people,s possessions was perfectly legal, imagine the outcome.

    3. avatar uncommon_sense says:

      James,

      Since you are so big on being honest, let us be honest about the fact that some laws will not significantly reduce the crimes that those laws are supposed to address.

      Even if a proposed law would significantly decrease violent crime, it may be a non-starter because it would significantly decrease our liberty, privacy, and/or human dignity. Example: suppose it is commonplace that women are suicide bombers and hide plastic explosives in their birth canals. Because that situation causes 50,000 deaths a year, a state passes a law that says police can stop and search any woman’s birth canal for explosives. And that law would truly eliminate 25,000 deaths a year. Does that result make the law okay? Or should we reject such a law because it is extremely degrading when women have to let any cop, any time, anywhere, yank their pants down and probe their bodies for explosives?

  16. avatar possum says:

    . A gum carrying a man attacked and killed a whole slew of possums at the Persimmon Church of God and Good Eats.

  17. avatar Docduracoat says:

    The studies are meaningless because you miss the basic point.
    Gun control legislation is about banning guns.
    It has nothing to do with reducing crime or stopping terrorism or any of the other stated goals.
    That is why appeals to reason, statistics and rational argument fail with anti gunners.
    That is why we should NEVER compromise on bump stocks, magazine cspaciy or any other “common sense” restriction.
    They are working toward complete gun bans by taking baby steps.

    1. avatar Pg2 says:

      Any study can be designed to produce the outcome desired. We see it everywhere.

  18. avatar coyote hunter says:

    You could strap down every democrat in the doctors chair and intravenously pump these info into their body and they would still deny it or explode…..

    1. avatar Dennis Sumner says:

      Explode sounds good!🤔

  19. avatar Jeremy Hatfield says:

    Another point about those “guns in households” statistics: they never get into particulars about how many injuries/deaths happened in those households with “secured” guns vs. those with “unsecured” guns.

    Also, they fail to point out how small their reported numbers are compared to the total of gun-owning households with children, because that would demonstrate that the overwhelming number of these households are doing something right, which I suspect has to do with proper child-rearing more than anything.

  20. avatar Buck Wheaton says:

    “Now there were 80 deaths from all gun-related causes in the United States in the age group 1 to 4 years old in 2017.”

    I must point out that these are children who only count because they were not aborted.
    In the 1 to 4 years prior to 2017. I wonder how many children survived botched abortions? We will never know because a botched abortion is an undesirable outcome of the procedure. The news media will never celebrate it.

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