Thanks for the response!
The very first study you cite from the Journal of Injury Prevention doesn’t lend to your argument as much as it contradicts it. Right in the second paragraph it reads,“There is little question that the high prevalence of gun ownership in the USA contributes to the burden of firearm-related injury.”
Well yeah. It’s hard to injure yourself with a firearm without a firearm. As we covered in the second article, the vast majority of those injuries are when people shoot themselves in the head on purpose, which is much easier to do when you have a firearm than when you don’t:
The Left Is Making the Wrong Case on Gun Deaths. Here’s a Better Case.
The gun conversation in this country has real, systemic problems.
Something I didn’t cover in there, but probably should have, is that some portion of the “firearm accident” deaths are also very likely to be suicides which were reported as accidents due to social stigma. Pro tip: guns don’t go off when you’re cleaning them. “Died while cleaning his gun” is a code word for “Daddy shot himself but we don’t want to talk about that, either for social stigma reasons or due to life insurance issues.”
Let’s take a look at the first study you reference.
It is unknown whether keeping a firearm in the home confers protection against crime or, instead, increases the risk of violent crime in the home. To study risk factors for homicide in the home, we identified homicides occurring in the homes of victims in three metropolitan counties.
After each homicide, we obtained data from the police or medical examiner and interviewed a proxy for the victim. The proxies’ answers were compared with those of control subjects who were matched to the victims according to neighborhood, sex, race, and age range. Crude and adjusted odds ratios were calculated with matched-pairs methods.
During the study period, 1860 homicides occurred in the three counties, 444 of them (23.9 percent) in the home of the victim. After excluding 24 cases for various reasons, we interviewed proxy respondents for 93 percent of the victims. Controls were identified for 99 percent of these, yielding 388 matched pairs. As compared with the controls, the victims more often lived alone or rented their residence. Also, case households more commonly contained an illicit-drug user, a person with prior arrests, or someone who had been hit or hurt in a fight in the home. After controlling for these characteristics, we found that keeping a gun in the home was strongly and independently associated with an increased risk of homicide (adjusted odds ratio, 2.7; 95 percent confidence interval, 1.6 to 4.4). Virtually all of this risk involved homicide by a family member or intimate acquaintance.
The use of illicit drugs and a history of physical fights in the home are important risk factors for homicide in the home. Rather than confer protection, guns kept in the home are associated with an increase in the risk of homicide by a family member or intimate acquaintance.
They open with tremendous selection bias: Urban homicide, victim in home. It’s good that they controlled against some pretty good variables: alone, renters, prior arrests, drug users, domestic violence, but they missed on one giant variable they needed to control against, which is unfortunately whether the victim was a black male. Sex/Race differential in this space is absolutely tremendous, as we covered here:
The Gun Homicide Epidemic Isn’t
Or, “How lying about reality doesn’t engender cross-cultural cooperation.”
Here’s a graph of victimization rate from that article:
Look at the victimization rate difference between black males and all other listed combinations of race/sex. If they were comparing homicide victims of one racial profile against a control group of another racial profile, as it seems from the abstract that they did, then you can throw the results out.
I don’t know the source of those staggering numbers, but we talk quite a bit about that problem, some possible causes, and some possible solutions, in the solutions article:
The Gun Solution
We are nearing the end of our series on guns, in which we use critical reasoning skills and actual data to formulate…
I’d also question that study’s conclusion when they say “rather than convey protection in the home,” given they didn’t study that at all. Dropping that in the conclusion is a clear indication of study bias, especially in the recent light of similar studies on gun protection being buried by the CDC for political reasons:
CDC, in Surveys It Never Bothered Making Public, Provides More Evidence That Plenty of Americans…
UPDATE: The paper discussed in this post below has been withdrawn by the author Gary Kleck after Reason brought to his…
Then there’s the final qualm I have with the study. They admit outright that almost all of the instances were people who were killed by family members or personal acquaintances, but never think about causality. Unless the murder used the victim’s gun, then the victim owning a gun didn’t factor at all in the murder. In fact, the very fact that the victim may have been worried about being shot by a family member or acquaintance may have incited them to buy the gun in the first place. To properly make the case they seem to be making, they would have to show very explicitly that the victim buying the gun somehow increased the likelihood that someone else would murder them. This is a classic and blatant correlation/causation issue, and it crops up all over the place in gun studies.
I don’t have time to go through each of the linked studies today, unfortunately. But if the rest are as questionable as the first, then I’m absolutely less convinced of the “scientific consensus” than you are. If there were an overall link between gun ownership and gun homicide, then we would see it somewhere, in some bivariate data set. No such data set exists.
For the record, I also question the language you use when you state this is a “public health crisis.” This language is not supported at all for homicides, as shown in the “Epidemic Isn’t” article above. Suicides are different, but the suicide problem must be treated with means other than gun seizure. The levels of gun saturation in this country are so beyond imagining that there is absolutely no way to get us to a state where guns aren’t obtainable by the public. The numbers are simply staggering. A deeper dive into the math on that is here: