“Stampede” would only slightly exaggerate the speed with which anti-gun public health researchers responded to President Obama’s call for $10 million to fund “gun violence” research earlier this year. Within a short time, gun control-supporting number-crunchers who had been given tax dollars to produce “studies” promoting gun control in the 1990s, before Congress turned off the spigot, assembled in Washington, D.C., to compile a wish list of topics they want to be paid to “study” today.
Recently, Boston University researchers chimed in too, releasing a study to be published soon in the American Journal of Public Health, claiming to have found “a robust correlation between higher levels of gun ownership and higher firearm homicide rates.”
Gun control advocates may want to hold off on popping champagne corks to celebrate, however. The study did not conclude that there is any cause-and-effect relationship between gun ownership and gun homicides. The same was true of a similar study, released by Boston Children’s Hospital earlier this year, leading even Garen Wintemute–one of the most anti-gun public health researchers in America–to say “Policy makers can draw no conclusions from this study.”
Additionally, over the 1981-2010 period considered by the new study–during which restrictions on carrying firearms and many other gun control laws were eliminated or ameliorated at the federal, state and local levels, and the number of privately owned guns in the United States rose by about 150 million–the U.S. firearm murder rate declined 48 percent.
Furthermore, gun ownership levels do not correlate to the percentage of murders committed with firearms. Consider the following examples: The District of Columbia, with about one-tenth the per capita gun ownership of Louisiana, had the same percentage of murders with guns between 1980-2011. Illinois, with less than half the gun ownership of Kentucky, had a slightly higher percentage of murders with guns. Maryland, with about half the gun ownership of Tennessee, had a slightly higher percentage of murders with guns. Connecticut and New York, with less than half the gun ownership of North Carolina, had about the same percentage of murders with guns. California, with two-thirds the gun ownership of Texas, had a greater percentage of murders with guns. Hawaii, with less than one-sixth the gun ownership of South Dakota, had a just slightly lower percentage of murders with guns.
Also, during the five years 2007-2011, as compared to the five years 1980-1984, the greatest decline in firearm murder rates occurred in Alaska, Texas, and Wyoming (states with relatively non-restrictive gun laws) and Hawaii and New York (states with particularly restrictive gun laws). The greatest increases occurred in Delaware, Massachusetts, Maryland and New Jersey (states with restrictive laws) and in Pennsylvania (which has relatively non-restrictive laws laws). Arizona and Louisiana had better trends than Connecticut and Rhode Island. Utah, Nevada and Idaho had better trends than California.
To the Boston researchers we would say “nice try,” but that, too, would be exaggerating.