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December 12, 2018

Firearms-Related Policy Research Done Right


By Larry Keane

So often we devote space on this blog to debunking and exposing anti-gun propaganda thinly disguised as research. It is refreshing to instead showcase a published study that effectively applies quantitative tools to public data, without relying on pre-determined, biased “findings.”

This study, titled “State Level Firearm Concealed-Carry Legislation and Rates of Homicide and Other Violent Crime,” is published in the latest Journal of the American College of Surgeons, and authored by: Mark E. Hamill, MD, FACS, FCCM, Matthew C. Hernandez, MD, Kent R. Bailey, PhD, Martin D. Zielinski, MD, FACS, Miguel A. Matos, DO, and Henry J. Schiller, MD, FACS.

30 Years of Data

Analyzing 30 years of data on violent crime and homicide rates from the Justice Department’s Uniform Crime Reporting Program (UCR) and the CDC, the researchers found, “no statistically significant association between the liberalization of state level firearm carry legislation over the last 30 years and the rates of homicides or other violent crime.”

In other words, the states that moved to less restrictive concealed carry policies saw no increase in violent crime, included homicides. The researchers recommend that “Policy efforts aimed at injury prevention and the reduction of firearm-related violence should likely investigate other targets for potential intervention.”

Considering ALL the Data

How is this study different from others, which have yielded an inconsistent mix of results? This study did not cherry pick years or states. It examines public data from all 50 states and DC, from 1986-2015. It also took into account factors that are known to drive violent crime rates such as poverty and unemployment rates.

The dataset used was complete, with no missing variables. The methodology is sound and rigorous, essentially using each state as its own control, rather than testing different states against each other, which removes state-to-state variations.

The authors conclude by calling for more “high-quality research” on firearm-related violence. Let’s hope that other researchers follow suit with more research that uses sound methodology to examine data without the bias and deliberate inaccuracies embedded in so much of the research published in recent years.

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