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Your Views: Discredited data fail to prove more guns make us safer

POSTED: May 15, 2014 1:00 a.m.

A recent letter writer suggested that everyone should read the seminal work promoting gun ownership, “More Guns Less Crime” by John Lott. The book, based on a study done in the early 1990s, and the author have been so thoroughly discredited that only those who are rabidly pro-gun cite it anymore.

To quote Steven Levitt, co-author of “Freakonomics:” “When other scholars have tried to replicate his results, they found that right-to-carry laws (allowing guns to be carried in public by private citizens) simply don’t bring down crime.” This is the academic equivalent of “he completely fabricated his results.”

Lott sued Levitt for that comment, but the judge sided with Levitt by saying Levitt’s statement was true. But Lott wasn’t done. Not only was he charged with falsifying an entire study, he was then caught inventing an online persona, Mary Rosh, to assist in the cover-up and write favorable reviews of his books. It seems the only reason Lott is still in the public square is because the media want to present both sides of the issue, and no other researcher has come up with the same results.

The fact is, despite being the “Holy Grail” for the NRA and its followers, there has never been a legitimate study showing that the act of buying a gun made the gun buyer and his family safer. The letter writer also pointed to a study from 2002-2006 that said Texas permit holders had a conviction rate about one-eighth of the general adult population over 18. Why those particular years in only one state? Because using limited data from a small time period in a single state is the only way to obtain the results he wanted. There are similar studies from other states that show the exact opposite.

So why are gun rights advocates allowed to cherry-pick data from limited years in specific states? Why isn’t there a national database that legitimate researchers can use? Because back in 1996, NRA-bought congressional members changed federal law to restrict access to firearm data from agencies like the ATF and cut off CDC research funding. Since then, tucked inside every state law expanding gun rights, including recently passed HB 60, there is a provision saying that state cannot collect data on guns or gun owners.

The NRA and its affiliates say this is to prevent the black helicopters from landing on your lawn and taking away your legally obtained gun. The reality is, just like the tobacco industry in the 1950s and ’60s, the gun industry doesn’t want the general public to realize how deadly its product really is, and will fight tooth-and-nail to prevent data showing that from being collected.

But just like tobacco eventually was thought of as a public health issue, the country is becoming aware of the hazards of carrying guns in public.

Kim Copeland
Gainesville


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