Explore The NRA Universe Of Websites

APPEARS IN News

Surprise: Problems with Widely Touted Anti-Gun Research

Friday, September 7, 2018

Surprise: Problems with Widely Touted Anti-Gun Research

“I am not interested in giving any serious thought to John Lott or his claims.”

Those are the words of University of Alabama associate professor Adam Lankford in response to Fox News after economist John Lott called Lankford’s highly publicized study into question.

Lankford’s study was published in 2016 but was touted by President Obama and a fawning media anxious for any “evidence” that gun ownership is somehow evil even before it was officially published. Lankford’s anti-gun perspective is evident early on in his paper. His eighth paragraph starts, “Less positive may be the fact that, according to a comparative study of 178 countries, the United States ranks first in gun ownership…”

Despite all of the attention it received, Lankford’s study is troublesome. He claims to have found that 31% of global mass shooters attacked in the United States between 1966 and 2012. He states that the U.S. suffered 90 offenders during this period while only four other countries had more than nine offenders. Obama took this alleged finding and ran with it, claiming “The one thing we do know is that we have a pattern now of mass shooting in this country that has no parallel anywhere else in the world.”

The problem is that Lankford’s study is lazy and sloppy, if not deliberately limited. He used the New York Police Department’s 2012 Active Shooter report supplemented with the FBI’s 2014 Active Shooter Report and “data gathered on incidents from other countries.” Lankford used the same methodology as the NYPD to gather additional information.

The NYPD only used open-source material – i.e., Google. They didn’t use subscription-based research services like LexisNexis, government databases, or any of the resources available to professors at well-funded world class universities. The “NYPD limited its internet searches to English-language sites, creating a strong sampling bias against international incidents.” That methodology works for the NYPD’s purpose of developing recommendations for risk mitigation but it doesn’t work for a cross-national study because most of the world speaks a language other than English. The FBI 2014 Active Shooter report was limited to incidents in the United States.

President Obama and others eager for anything that casts gun ownership as fundamentally dangerous took Lankford’s 31% claim at face value. Other researchers, academics, and journalists who questioned Lankford’s work – or even asked to see his data – were rebuffed by the UA professor.

John Lott thought that 31% seemed high, so he asked if Lankford would share his dataset – a common courtesy among academics and researchers. Lankford refused. Repeatedly. Lankford also refused to explain how he measured (or counted) mass shootings. Lankford refused to tell journalists how he collected his data, despite his claim that he found complete data for 171 countries – somehow without using foreign language sources. Journalists at Real Clear Politics asked Lankford questions about his methodology and for access to his raw data; he refused. Lankford’s paper does not include a list of the number of shooters in each country, only providing the totals for five countries including the United States.

So Lott built his own dataset using the University of Maryland Global Terrorism Database, Nexis, and web searches for mass shootings. Lott hired people who spoke foreign languages to help with this effort. Unlike Lankford, Lott provides the search terms he used as well as a list of the cases in his dataset. Lott has been as transparent as possible with his study and even acknowledges that his monumental effort likely undercounts shootings in foreign countries due to current and historical news coverage of such events in the developing world. Lott looked at the years 1998-2012, likely to ensure the availability of better data. 

Lott found at least fifteen times more mass public shooters than Lankford in less than a third the number of years (1998-2012). Lankford claimed to find 292 mass public shooters over 47 years while Lott found more than 10,000 such shooters around the world in the last 15 years. Professor Carl Moody at the College of William & Mary confirmed Lott’s counts for The Washington Times and added, “By the way, anybody can do this. The GTD database is free and available to all.”

Lott’s most important finding is that 1.43% of mass public shooters attacked in the United States. That is starkly different than Lankford’s 31% claim. Lott extended his work to the number of attacks and found that 2.88% of mass public shootings between 1998 and 2012 were in the United States.

Since Lott’s paper was published, his findings have been covered in The Washington Timesand in a comprehensive article on RealClearPolitics.com that touches on the importance of allowing other researchers or journalists to verify one’s data (including infamous cases within the context of firearms-related research).

Lankford’s conclusion – that reducing gun ownership would reduce mass shootings – falls apart when one considers the undercounted foreign cases. One would hope – even expect – that a professor would give serious thought to valid questions about his work and to more comprehensive studies that refute his findings. Petty, dismissive, and evasive answers do not reflect poorly on the genuine questions raised or those asking them.

 

IN THIS ARTICLE
Alabama Obama Anti-Gun Practices
TRENDING NOW
Shoddy Science and Shaky Assumptions: Court Invalidates California’s Handgun Ad Ban on First Amendment Grounds

News  

Friday, September 21, 2018

Shoddy Science and Shaky Assumptions: Court Invalidates California’s Handgun Ad Ban on First Amendment Grounds

Earlier this month, a federal court invalidated California’s ban on premises advertising relating to handguns (but not other firearms), disparaging the state’s proffered justification for the law as nothing more than “mere speculation and conjecture.” 

New Industry Statistics Underscore Popularity of “America’s Rifle”

News  

Friday, September 21, 2018

New Industry Statistics Underscore Popularity of “America’s Rifle”

Senator Dianne Feinstein has spent the last 26 years pushing gun control at the federal level and earlier this month demonstrated her willingness to distort facts and Supreme Court precedent in her ongoing effort to ...

Gun Control Twist: Saving One Life “Does Not Justify” Right-to-Carry

News  

Friday, September 21, 2018

Gun Control Twist: Saving One Life “Does Not Justify” Right-to-Carry

Gun control advocates often use some version of the phrase “if it saves one life” in order to justify their ineffective proposals. This week, the anti-gun editorial page of the Chicago Sun-Times offered a different ...

Bloomberg Presidential Run? Maybe. Bloomberg Effort to Buy the Midterms? Definitely.

News  

Friday, September 21, 2018

Bloomberg Presidential Run? Maybe. Bloomberg Effort to Buy the Midterms? Definitely.

Billionaire gun control financier and former-New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg is once again floating a presidential run.

Outrageous! NC University Forces Student to Remove NRA Flag from Dorm Window

News  

Wednesday, September 19, 2018

Outrageous! NC University Forces Student to Remove NRA Flag from Dorm Window

Elon University student forced to remove NRA banner from his dorm room window.

Levi’s Teams with Billionaire Michael Bloomberg to Attack Gun Rights

News  

Friday, September 7, 2018

Levi’s Teams with Billionaire Michael Bloomberg to Attack Gun Rights

Levi Strauss & Co. established its brand in the mid-19th century by selling durable clothing to working-class Americans. As Levi’s signature jeans gained popularity amongst a wider set in the middle of the last century, ...

Anti-gun Senator Accompanied by “Unprecedented” Security Detail While Traveling in California

News  

Friday, September 14, 2018

Anti-gun Senator Accompanied by “Unprecedented” Security Detail While Traveling in California

Sen. Kamala Harris (D-CA) is no fan of the Second Amendment. As California attorney general, she sided with local officials who refused to issue concealed carry permits to qualified, law-abiding applicants unless they could demonstrate an extraordinary ...

NRA Calls on Phil Bredesen to Retract Misleading Ad

News  

Wednesday, September 19, 2018

NRA Calls on Phil Bredesen to Retract Misleading Ad

The National Rifle Association Political Victory Fund today called on U.S. Senate candidate Phil Bredesen to retract a false and misleading campaign ad where he cites an incorrect NRA grade and misleads voters by claiming ...

Gun Control Activist Urges Canadian Audience to Get Involved in U.S. Politics

News  

Friday, September 14, 2018

Gun Control Activist Urges Canadian Audience to Get Involved in U.S. Politics

For someone who has previously falsely accused the NRA of funneling foreign money into domestic politics, it must be that David Hogg either forgot he was in Canada recently or failed to appreciate that it’s also illegal ...

No, It’s Not Harder to Buy Allergy Medicine than a Gun

News  

Friday, September 14, 2018

No, It’s Not Harder to Buy Allergy Medicine than a Gun

A twist on an inaccurate old anti-gun talking point is making the rounds on social media. On September 10, anti-gun public relations professional Wendy Zipes Hunter tweeted about a purported recent trip to drug store. Hunter claimed, “Couldn’t ...

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.