Another Negative Gun Study Shot Down

We recently reported on a column written by reporter John Stossel on false statistical conclusions being touted by anti-gun advocates. Now, a similar piece on by columnist and book author John R. Lott takes on reports indicating more guns mean more police officers killed in a given area.

A study that will be soon be printed in the American Journal of Public Health got a lot of national and international coverage for mistakenly concluding, as Lott points out, that private gun ownership causes police deaths.

Lott says researchers left out controls used by nearly every other organization doing this type of study, causing their results to be skewed.

He cites previous research that "found that concealed handgun permits lead to fewer police deaths. The authors offered no explanation for the new study's unorthodox approach."

The AJPH study doesn't take other external factors into account that occurred during the same time period as the study's stats.

This can be easily seen when the U.S. and UK are compared, Lott writes.

"As many people point out, the UK has both a lower gun ownership rate and lower homicide rate than the U.S. does. Yet, it does not logically follow that reducing gun ownership leads to a reduction in crime. And, in fact, after the UK's 1997 nationwide handgun ban, their homicide rate actually increased by 50 percent over the next eight years. The UK still had a lower homicide rate than the US, but this wasn't because of the handgun ban. Other factors must have played a role. The ban itself raised their homicide rate," he writes.

Lott says the AJPH study doesn't account for these types of bias from state to state over many years "and the authors offer no explanation for this lapse."

Another problem with the study is the way it measures gun ownership.

"What they are actually measuring is the percentage of suicides committed with guns. While this may have some relationship to gun ownership, this much more likely picks up whether the population is relatively more male, as men are more likely to use guns for suicide, as well as other demographic and geographical differences," he writes. "For example, even when women own guns, they are more likely than men to use other methods of committing suicide."