New gun violence study has 'major shortcomings'
I'm sure my friend Howard Nemerov will be out soon with a debunking of this new gun control study that purports to show that states with more restrictive gun laws have a lower incidence of gun deaths.
The new study, published "Online First" by JAMA Internal Medicine, looked at rates of violent deaths over four years -- from 2007 to 2010 -- and looked at how their distribution related to the patchwork of state laws governing gun ownership. It found that in those states with the most restrictive gun laws, rates of violent deaths were significantly lower than in those that had the least stringent laws on their books.
When it looked at gun deaths by suicide, the study found a particularly deep divide between stringent-gun-law states and states with few restrictions in gun laws: Compared with states that had a "legislative strength score" in the top quartile of restrictiveness (they have between nine and 24 gun control laws on their books), those states with a legislative strength score in the bottom quartile (having zero to two gun-control laws on their books) had on average 6.25 more gun suicides per 100,000 people.
The gap in homicide deaths between states with most-restrictive and least-restrictive gun laws was far narrower. In the most restrictive states, there was on average one fewer gun-related homicide for every 250,000 people.
Only one, tiny, problem; the study is bogus:
A commentary on the study, also published "Online First" in JAMA Internal Medicine, said that as scientific research and as a guidepost to policymaking on guns, the study has major shortcomings and that its findings were unclear.
Gun violence expert Dr. Garen Wintemute wrote that the key measure of states' laws -- the legislative strength score -- hasn't been proved reliable and meaningful. The study treats all gun laws as if they should have equal impact, he added. The authors, he wrote, fail to take into account the flow of guns across state borders, or the fact that states with restrictive laws probably have lower rates of gun ownership.
Because gun laws are largely designed to prevent or deter the criminal use of guns, the study's most notable findings -- linking gun laws to reduced suicides -- makes no sense, wrote Wintemute, an emergency physician and director of UC Davis' Violence Prevention Research Program.
The authors, wrote Wintemute "did well with the data available to them." But in the end, they can provide "no firm guidance" about which gun laws work to reduce violence and how.
No doubt that this study will make it's way to the floor of Congress and be cited as "proof" that gun control works. And the truth will still be putting on its shoes will the lie flies halfway around the world.