A Stinker of A Study

The Joyce foundation has funded a study showing that you’re stupid if you carry a gun.  You can see the PDF here, but just giving it a cursory look, it has flaws. Let me outline. From the “Methods” section:

Gunshot assault cases caused by powder charge firearms were identified as they oc- curred, from October 15, 2003, to April 16, 2006. The final 6 months of this period were limited to only fatal cases. We excluded self- inflicted, unintentional, and police-related shootings (an officer shooting someone or being shot), and gun injuries of undetermined intent.

Why limit to only fatal cases in the final six months? It’s legitimate to exclude accidental and self-inflicted wounds. But why is it legitimate to exclude police from this? Police carry firearms for self-defense, the same as ordinary citizens. If your premise is that carrying a firearm makes you more likely to be assaulted, it’s not legitimate to exclude police use.

We excluded individuals younger than 21 years because it was not legal for them to possess a firearm in Philadelphia and, as such, the relationship we sought to investigate was functionally different enough to prompt separate study of this age group. We excluded individuals who were not residents of Phila- delphia as they were outside our target pop- ulation and individuals not described as Black or White as they were a very small percentage of shootings (<2%).

It’s legitimate to exclude people under 21 who carry guns, but why is it assumed that anyone over the age of 21 was a legal gun owner? It’s illegal to carry a firearm on the streets of Philadelphia without a License to Carry firearms. Why did the study not exclude people who were carrying firearms illegally? Could it be because you needed people involved in dangerous illegal activity to get the results you wanted? Why exclude people who are not residents of Philadelphia? They are more likely to carry a legal firearm. Why the racial exclusion?

This study is comparing apples and oranges, which is interesting, but not really that useful, and can’t be used to come to the conclusion that an ordinary, law abiding person, who is not involved in the illegal drug trade or involved in gangs, is taking a risk by carrying a gun to defend himself.

10 thoughts on “A Stinker of A Study”

  1. It’s odd that they openly admit the 21 years of age in this instance. As every-time there’s a shooting of school children in handgun free chicago, the shooters age is never brought up by the foundation but the crime statistic is used. Should we assume that they will no longer count any underage handgun possessions in shootings in their statistics from now on?

  2. Check out the 95% confidence levels on those studies. Good lord. We’re talking an average of 4 times more likely with a 95% confidence interval of 1.15 to 15 times more likely. This sort of study just makes the Joyce foundation look inept.

  3. There is a wonderful irony in paragraphs two and three of the study, where the authors note that the National Research Council found previous case-control studies to be inconclusive. But they recommended further research. So the present authors have obliged them by producing another inconclusive case-control study.

  4. Well, geez! If the studiers are STUPID, how can you expect the results of their study to be anything other than STUPID.

  5. This is classic garbage in garbage out. If I would have written something formulated like this for an Econ or Poly Sci paper in college I would still be there…

  6. 95% confidence! That sounds impressive only to people who never learned about probability and statistics, but I won’t go into the gory details.
    Why limit the last 6 months to only fatal cases? Maybe because it reinforces the idea that a gun is only useful if it kills someone, and non-fatal gun uses should be ignored.
    Apples and oranges! More like apples and adverbs.

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