The news was abuzz last week with reports about yet another doctor committing criminology malpractice.
This time, The Lancet, “a major contributor to health and medical media coverage worldwide” published a piece claiming that if just three gun control laws were passed on a national level, 90% of gun deaths would disappear. In the next article, statistical proof that Santa and the Easter Bunny were shacking up in Vegas was also provided.
It is sad wonder that the media actually ran with the story, though I do favorably note that fewer reporters did than normal. It takes only a little Googleing to gain perspective on gun deaths, and the real numbers about gun violence are even spilling onto presidential debate stages. So perhaps the media, having been lambasted for a few decades for not doing their homework, has started.
There were numerous problems with “Firearm Legislation and Firearm Mortality in the USA”. Most obvious are suicides, which for the year this study covered, constituted 63% of all gun deaths (suicides, homicides, accidents).
Here is the suicide gotcha. Nearly all firearm suicides are committed with legally owned firearms. When the doctors who penned this diseased study claim that background checks on guns and ammo plus firearm identification technology will stop all firearm suicides and most of homicides, the notion fails. Interviews with suicide survivors show that they contemplate the act for a long period of time, with ample opportunity to legally obtain firearms (if they did not already legally own them before becoming depressed enough to want to die).
Things get much worse for our desperate doctors. The crimes against criminology for which they are guilty are numerous. They used non-standard measurements (common in the study of disease spread, but not in criminology), modeled predictors of legislative outcomes, made claims about death reduction rates several times larger than state-by-state comparison of the raw number show, used a single year (cross-sectional to states) instead of time series, only used one independent variable to test, etc., etc., etc.
It is worth your while to let other people know what poor science Lancet published. If we are to make policy based on science, then the basic math needs to be correct. In this “study” it is not.