Explore The NRA Universe Of Websites

APPEARS IN News

The Science of Selling Gun Control: Picking the Right Data

Friday, December 15, 2017

The Science of Selling Gun Control: Picking the Right Data

In a Science Magazine article titled, “Firearms and accidental deaths: Evidence from the aftermath of the Sandy Hook school shooting,” economists Phillip B. Levine and Robin McKnight claim to find a causal link between the spike in gun sales after the Sandy Hook shooting and the number of fatal firearms accidents in the “Post-Sandy Hook Window” running from December 2012 to April 2013.

The real issue with this research is found, as usual, in the methods. Levine and McKnight use an eight-year overall period – 2008 through 2015 – for their analysis. Within these eight years, they build a five-month average to which the post-Sandy Hook period is compared, and ultimately found that the post-Sandy Hook surge in gun sales is linked to 57 additional fatal firearms accidents in the same period.

This overall period includes the year with the lowest number of fatal firearms accidents on record (2015), which continued the long-existing downward trend, but excludes all years before 2008 when fatal accidents were considerably higher. This serves to water down the average, making the number of fatal accidents in the post-Sandy Hook period seem shockingly large.

There were 64 fatal accidents in December 2012, 57 in January 2013, 41 in February, 47 in March, and 37 in April. Levine and McKnight claim that nearly a quarter of these should be attributed to the increase in gun sales after the Sandy Hook school shooting. But there were 50 fatal firearms accidents in November 2012, 59 that July, and 69 in the previous November – suggesting that no such spike really occurred. The chart below shows the total number of fatal firearms accidents per month and indicates that the Post-Sandy Hook Window saw a similar number of tragic but fortunately rare fatal accidents as previous months.


Another issue with the research in Science Magazine is that of the NICS checks used as a proxy for gun sales, with the usual caveat, that this is not a perfect 1:1 proxy. December 2012 was one of the busiest months ever for NICS (second only to December 2015) but the 8th busiest day of all time was in November 2012- before Sandy Hook. Levine and McKnight did not account for the total firearms accumulated prior to December 2012. In other words, they are attributing all of the accidents in the Post-Sandy Hook Window specifically to firearms purchased in that same period while ignoring the more than 150 million guns purchased (using their own proxy) before Sandy Hook. They have no way of isolating fatal injuries that involved only the firearms purchased in the Post-Sandy Hook Window.

Levine and McKnight acknowledge that “simple comparisons of trends over time, for instance, indicate a negative correlation between gun sales and accidental gun deaths. Such comparisons, though, do not account for the presence of other trends that confound these statistics.”

Sandy Hook was sadly neither the first nor last time anti-gun politicians sought to curtail the rights of law-abiding Americans because of the actions of a criminal, leading to an increase in gun sales. The trends that Levine and McKnight insist confound the simple correlation between more guns and fewer fatal accidents are built into the data.

Of course, criminologist Gary Kleck had a much simpler response to Levine and McKnight: “Notwithstanding its prestigious outlet, this paper is junk science, and should never have been published.” 

TRENDING NOW
Biden Administration Finalizes “New” Firearm Storage Rule

News  

Tuesday, January 18, 2022

Biden Administration Finalizes “New” Firearm Storage Rule

On January 3, the Biden Administration’s Department of Justice (DOJ) announced that it would be finalizing a new rule on firearm storage for Federal Firearm Licensees (FFLs). The DOJ additionally announced an update to the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, ...

Growing the Gun Community in Unlikely Places

News  

Tuesday, January 18, 2022

Growing the Gun Community in Unlikely Places

We mentioned a Beverly Hills gun shop last week in an article about the continued increase in background checks and gun sales. We spoke with the proprietor of that shop, and he offered a very humanized ...

Chicago Politicians, Whistling Past the Graveyard

News  

Tuesday, January 18, 2022

Chicago Politicians, Whistling Past the Graveyard

It’s no secret that crime in Chicago has reached levels not seen in decades. Crime statistics released by the Chicago Police Department (CPD) for October 2021 show significant increases in incidents of serious crime compared to the ...

Washington: Another Year – Another Extreme Gun Ban!

Friday, January 14, 2022

Washington: Another Year – Another Extreme Gun Ban!

The legislature only just gaveled in this week and anti-gun legislators and gun control groups couldn’t wait to reintroduce their extreme gun ban legislation - an "assault weapons" ban, Senate Bill 5217.

Washington:  The Hits Keep on Coming as Magazine Ban Pulled to the Senate Floor

Friday, January 14, 2022

Washington: The Hits Keep on Coming as Magazine Ban Pulled to the Senate Floor

On Friday, the Washington Senate pulled magazine ban legislation, Senate Bill 5078 to the Senate Floor where it is eligible for a vote for passage.

Anti-gunners Ignore the Obvious, Lamely Try to Blame Gun Sales for Rise in Homicide Rates

News  

Tuesday, January 18, 2022

Anti-gunners Ignore the Obvious, Lamely Try to Blame Gun Sales for Rise in Homicide Rates

Last week, two gun control advocates – who described themselves as a “crime analyst” and a “data scientist” -- published an article in the anti-gun publication The Atlantic blaming the 2020 spike in homicide rates on that ...

Virginia: Extreme Bill Will Ban Home Defense & End Youth Hunting

Wednesday, January 19, 2022

Virginia: Extreme Bill Will Ban Home Defense & End Youth Hunting

Though a pro-Second Amendment majority sits in the House of Delegates this session, that’s not stopping anti-gun lawmakers from continuing to push the same radical gun control they’ve pushed for the past two years. Here ...

Alabama: Sheriff’s Association Working With Anti-Gun Group Opposing Constitutional Carry

Monday, January 17, 2022

Alabama: Sheriff’s Association Working With Anti-Gun Group Opposing Constitutional Carry

Bobby Timmons, director of the Alabama Sheriff’s Association (ASA), is so opposed to acknowledging your inherent right-to-carry, and wants so badly to protect the revenue stream from permit fees, that he openly opposes the Second ...

Washington: Public Hearing Overwhelmingly Echoes with Opposition to Anti-Gun Measures

Tuesday, January 18, 2022

Washington: Public Hearing Overwhelmingly Echoes with Opposition to Anti-Gun Measures

Yesterday, the Senate Law and Justice Committee held a public hearing to consider an extreme "assault weapons" ban, Senate Bill 5217, and anti-preemption legislation, Senate Bill 5568.

Indiana: Senate Version of Lawful Carry Bill in Committee

Tuesday, January 18, 2022

Indiana: Senate Version of Lawful Carry Bill in Committee

Senate Bill 14, a lawful carry bill similar to the NRA-backed House Bill 1077 awaiting a Senate committee assignment, is currently before the Senate Judiciary Committee. The committee will likely consider amendments and may bring it up ...

MORE TRENDING +
LESS TRENDING -

More Like This From Around The NRA

NRA ILA

Established in 1975, the Institute for Legislative Action (ILA) is the "lobbying" arm of the National Rifle Association of America. ILA is responsible for preserving the right of all law-abiding individuals in the legislative, political, and legal arenas, to purchase, possess and use firearms for legitimate purposes as guaranteed by the Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.