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
Washington: Substitute Version of Gun Control Bill Passes House Committee

Friday, January 19, 2018

Washington: Substitute Version of Gun Control Bill Passes House Committee

Yesterday, the House Judiciary Committee passed Substitute House Bill 1122 out of committee on a 7-6 vote.  This bill, which would require gun owners to lock up their firearms or potentially face criminal charges, will ...

Crossing the Line – Firearm Preemption Protection Under Attack

News  

Friday, January 19, 2018

Crossing the Line – Firearm Preemption Protection Under Attack

Gun control groups are fond of describing preemption as a doctrine whereby a state has stripped local governments of their power to regulate guns.

Australia: Queensland’s Labor Party Government Targets MP for Gun Control Heresy

News  

Friday, January 19, 2018

Australia: Queensland’s Labor Party Government Targets MP for Gun Control Heresy

The sorry state of gun politics in Australia was put into stark relief recently, after Liberal National Party (LNP) Queensland Legislative Assembly MP Anthony Perrett took a principled stand in favor of his constituents’ gun rights.

Washington: Trigger Modification Ban Passes Committee

Tuesday, January 16, 2018

Washington: Trigger Modification Ban Passes Committee

Earlier today, the Washington state Senate Law & Justice Committee passed Senate Bill 5992 out of committee with a 4-3 vote. As drafted, this legislation has overreaching language that would ban modifications commonly made to ...

Arizona: Signature Gathering Underway For Hunting Ban Initiative

Hunting  

Friday, January 19, 2018

Arizona: Signature Gathering Underway For Hunting Ban Initiative

The Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) and their front-group “Arizonans for Wildlife” are currently gathering signatures for a ballot initiative that would ban the hunting and trapping of mountain lions and bobcats in ...

New Jersey:  2018 Brings Bigger Challenges for New Jersey Gun Owners

Friday, January 19, 2018

New Jersey: 2018 Brings Bigger Challenges for New Jersey Gun Owners

A new Governor took the reins from Gov. Chris Christie this week, and a new Legislature has been sworn into office. 

Indiana: Rifle Hunting Bill Passes Senate

Hunting  

Friday, January 19, 2018

Indiana: Rifle Hunting Bill Passes Senate

On Thursday, January 18th, Senate Bill 20 passed the Indiana state Senate by a vote of 47-2 and will now move to the House.  

Hawaii: Trigger Modification Ban Introduced in the Senate

Thursday, January 18, 2018

Hawaii: Trigger Modification Ban Introduced in the Senate

Today, Senator Karl Rhoads (D-13) introduced legislation that would ban modifications commonly made to firearms by law-abiding citizens.  SB 2046 is currently pending a committee referral.  Please contact your Senator today and urge them to OPPOSE this ...

Washington: House Judiciary to Hear Gun Control Bills

Thursday, January 18, 2018

Washington: House Judiciary to Hear Gun Control Bills

On Thursday, January 25th at 1:30PM, the House Judiciary Committee is scheduled to hear several sweeping gun control bills.  NRA Members and Second Amendment supporters are strongly encouraged to attend the committee hearing to voice your opposition ...

Eighteen States, Law Enforcement, Doctors, and Firearm Rights Groups File Amicus Briefs in Lawsuit Challenging California 10+ Magazine Ban

Tuesday, January 16, 2018

Eighteen States, Law Enforcement, Doctors, and Firearm Rights Groups File Amicus Briefs in Lawsuit Challenging California 10+ Magazine Ban

On Friday, January 12, several amicus briefs were filed in the NRA and CRPA supported lawsuit challenging California’s restrictions against magazines capable of holding more than 10 rounds. The lawsuit, titled Duncan v. Becerra, challenges California’s ...

MORE TRENDING +
LESS TRENDING -
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.