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
Biden’s Anti-gun Lies are Too Much Even for Legacy Press Fact Checkers

News  

Monday, April 19, 2021

Biden’s Anti-gun Lies are Too Much Even for Legacy Press Fact Checkers

With President Joe Biden securely in office and the 2024 presidential election 43 months away, the mainstream press has determined it an acceptable time to expose the frequent fibber’s most flagrant falsehoods.

Hunter Biden Memoir Among Mounting Evidence of Federal Gun Law Violations

News  

Monday, April 19, 2021

Hunter Biden Memoir Among Mounting Evidence of Federal Gun Law Violations

As President Joe Biden and his Department of Justice concoct new firearm restrictions for ordinary law-abiding Americans, 

Guide To The Interstate Transportation Of Firearms

Gun Laws  

Thursday, January 1, 2015

Guide To The Interstate Transportation Of Firearms

CAUTION: Federal and state firearms laws are subject to frequent change. This summary is not to be considered as legal advice or a restatement of law.

In New Executive Gun Control Push, Biden Seems to Throw Obama, and Himself, Under the Bus

News  

Monday, April 12, 2021

In New Executive Gun Control Push, Biden Seems to Throw Obama, and Himself, Under the Bus

At Biden's recent Rose Garden ceremony, where he announced his latest assault on the Second Amendment, he lied a number of times, and garbled the name of the federal agency tasked with enforcing federal gun ...

New Jersey: Gov. Murphy Announces Drastic Gun Control Agenda

Thursday, April 15, 2021

New Jersey: Gov. Murphy Announces Drastic Gun Control Agenda

Thursday morning, Gov. Phil Murphy held a press conference to unveil yet another gun control package in the Garden State.  

Texas House Approves NRA-Backed Permitless Carry Bill

Friday, April 16, 2021

Texas House Approves NRA-Backed Permitless Carry Bill

Early Thursday evening, on a 84-56 vote, the Texas House gave initial approval to House Bill 1927, by Rep. Matt Schaefer (R-Tyler), an NRA-backed permitless carry proposal that would allow law-abiding citizens to carry a handgun without a state-issued License To ...

NRA Opposes David Chipman for ATF Director

News  

Friday, April 9, 2021

NRA Opposes David Chipman for ATF Director

During a press conference on Thursday, President Biden announced that he would once again be targeting law-abiding gun owners by ordering ATF to develop two new restrictive regulations. Aiming to accessorize the Department of Justice’s ...

More Pro-Second Amendment Bills Moving in the Texas Senate and House

Saturday, April 17, 2021

More Pro-Second Amendment Bills Moving in the Texas Senate and House

While reports about the House passing House Bill 1927, NRA-backed permitless carry legislation, dominated the news this week, there are a number of other significant pro-Second Amendment measures that are progressing through the legislative process as well.

A Radical Idea: It’s Not the Gun, it’s the Criminal

News  

Monday, April 12, 2021

A Radical Idea: It’s Not the Gun, it’s the Criminal

Rahm Emanuel, recently the mayor of Chicago and who has previously served as a member of the Clinton Administration and as President Obama’s White House chief of staff, proposed a few curious gun control ideas ...

Guide To The Interstate Transportation Of Firearms

Gun Laws  

Monday, June 30, 2014

Guide To The Interstate Transportation Of Firearms

CAUTION: Federal and state firearms laws are subject to frequent change. This summary is not to be considered as legal advice or a restatement of law.

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.