The Ultimate Firearms Destination for the Gun Lifestyle

Recognizing Bogus Research & Dissecting the Stats

This article originally appeared in CONCEALMENT Issue 10

RECOIL INTERVIEWS DR. JOHN LOT, JR. TO DIFFERENTIATE FACT FROM FICTION

With so many experts on firearms-related topics — Diane Feinstein, Hillary Clinton, news reporters on CNN — we’re bombarded daily with “facts” we know aren’t quite right. Sometimes, these so-called facts are even absurd, but are nonchalantly paraded around by the media to support their gun control agenda. How do we, the responsible gun owners, prove the falsehood? Recognizing the difference between fact and fiction is one of the most important skills in the Second Amendment advocate’s arsenal.

Of course, recognizing the falsehood and explaining why something is false are two different skills. Both of them, however, require that we know the real facts. If we can fight the lies with facts based upon reliable, explainable research, we win. Raw, simple truths without skewed numbers, tossed out data, or deleted parts of an interview, cannot be denied.

When it comes to this kind of honest data, some of the most reliable, unbiased facts are researched and provided to us by Dr. John Lott Jr., founder and president of the Crime Prevention Research Center (CPRC).

Lott is an economist, author, and a world-recognized expert on guns and crime. He’s a Fox News columnist. Among economists, business and law professors his research is currently the 25th most downloaded in the world. He has authored articles and numerous books, including More Guns, Less Crime and recently, The War on Guns.

john lott

RECOIL: Can you tell us a little bit about the CPRC?
John Lott: The Crime Prevention Research Center (CPRC) is a nonprofit corporation. We do not accept donations from gun or ammunition makers or organizations, such as the NRA or any other organizations involved in the gun control debate on either side of the issue. Our goal is to provide an objective and accurate scientific evaluation of both the costs and benefits of gun ownership as well as policing activities.

The CPRC conducts academic quality research on the relationship between laws regulating the ownership or use of guns, crime, and public safety; educates the public, including journalists and politicians, on the results of our research; and supports other organizations, projects, and initiatives in conducting and publishing similar research by providing direct financial support, sharing data, and providing technical assistance.

War On Guns book

What are some of the biggest lies the media tells us about guns?
JL: Well, there’s a big debate coming up about the concealed carry reciprocity bill that has been introduced in Congress. Claims have been made by the Violence Policy Center and the New York Times that over the last 10 years, there were over 900 homicides committed by concealed carry permit holders. If you review the data, the largest single category of these deaths are suicides, but even then, the numbers are just completely bogus. Forty percent of the cases are supposedly from Michigan, and 79 of them were manslaughter and 300 were suicides.

If you review the data, cases that are being reported as gun violence, so-called “bad” cases, are actually justifiable shootings, what we would call “good” cases. These good cases are counted as bad.

Another problem is that they counted pending cases, rather than actual convictions. If a case is pending or just a news story, it may be a justifiable homicide, and any charges are quickly dropped. What we found is that these arrests, even if the shooting was justifiable, are still getting reported and included in their numbers as homicides. One justifiable shooting could result in four different charges that are later dropped, but that shooting, a good case, gets counted as four bad cases (homicides) in their numbers.

Back to the suicides. The suicides are a huge part of the bogus data. Each year, the Michigan State Police compares numbers with the Department of Health. They compare the number of concealed carry permit holders with those who commit suicide and match the two lists up together. Most suicides are committed at home and without guns. Why count those suicides committed in the person’s home as gun violence? You don’t need a concealed carry permit to kill yourself in your home with a gun.

If you compare the suicide rate for permit holders in Michigan to the rate that everybody in Michigan commits suicide, permit holders commit suicide at just 40 percent the rate of the general adult population. In other words, the general population is much more likely to commit suicide than permit holders are.

Even if the numbers were even remotely accurate, and they’re not, you have over 16,000,000 permit holders in the U.S. right now, so try to look at the rate which suicide would occur.

The New York Times keeps bringing this up all the time, even though their conclusion is bogus.

Chicago is often cited to show that there’s no correlation between increased anti-gun legislation, and lower gun-related crime.

Chicago is often cited to show that there’s no correlation between increased anti-gun legislation, and lower gun-related crime.

What are some of the differences between solid research versus skewed statistics?
JL: In The War on Guns, I go into this in detail. There are so many false claims that are out there. People conducting the bogus research will try to look at data a lot of different ways before they report it. They toss out the studies that don’t support the conclusions they want to reach, and they use studies with requirements that purposefully falsify the data. For example, if you are conducting non-biased, objective research, and you have people flip a coin 20 times, you will likely get data that shows an even number of heads versus tails, so 10 heads and 10 tails. But if you want a biased study, you might collect your data after telling subjects that they can only pick five heads, and then claim that the coin isn’t fair.

Another indicator of biased research is studies where data has just been thrown out and disregarded. A researcher better have a damn good reason for why they’re throwing out data. We find that people reporting false statistics won’t use all the years or all the states where the data is available. Instead, they’ll ignore certain years or they will just look at D.C. or another location. Whenever a study does not include all the available data, data that includes all the years for which it is available and for all the places it is available, you should be on alert.

Now that London’s murder rate has exceeded New York City, it’ll be interesting to see if knives are the next item to be banned in the UK in an attempt to lower crime.

Now that London’s murder rate has exceeded New York City, it’ll be interesting to see if knives are the next item to be banned in the UK in an attempt to lower crime.

What about the statistics of gun violence in America versus other parts of the world?
JL: One of the worst comparisons that people make involves using cross-sectional data. Look at the United Kingdom. People report the low homicide rate, strict gun control laws, and relatively few guns and reach the conclusion that the UK must have a low homicide rate because of the strict gun control. The problem is that the UK had an even lower homicide rate before they ever passed their strict gun control laws. There are lots of reasons why crime rates or homicide rates vary across places that have nothing to do with gun control.

The UK has always had an amazingly low firearm homicide rate. London, a city of over 8-million people, would have only two gun homicides a year before they had any gun control. It is important to look at how crime rates change before and after laws occur and also, compare how the numbers change relative to other places that are not changing their laws over a period of time.

The CPRC website reports that “Every place that has been banned guns (either all guns or all handguns) has seen murder rates go up. You cannot point to one place where murder rates have fallen, whether it’s Chicago or D.C. or even island nations such as England, Jamaica, or Ireland.” Have any gun control laws that you have studied produced a beneficial effect for society?
JL: No. To explain the data that gets reported but says otherwise, we need to address what is called panel data. Panel data means you need to have changes in laws in multiple places over the period of time that you’re studying. If only a state law is changed, the data from the change in state law can be misleading. You need a national change in laws that will affect every state to conduct solid research, and even then, it can be difficult to reach a conclusion on what effect a law has had on the crime rates.

Let’s use the United States Supreme Court case of Miranda v. Arizona as an example. After that decision came out in 1966, requiring law enforcement officers to advise suspects of their right to remain silent, there was an increase in crime. Some people reported that the increase in crime was due to the fact that the Miranda decision made it harder to produce evidence in court.

Is it possible that it had an impact? Sure, but you will never prove it because there were three other United States Supreme Court decisions around the same time that also dealt with crime. We don’t know which one had the effect. Was it all four, or one or two or three of them? On top of it, there were so many other things changing nationally during the 1960s that make it even more difficult to reach a conclusion on why the crime rates increased during that time period.

more guns less crime

Is there any research or topics that you think readers should know about — maybe something that hasn’t gotten much attention?
JL: I recently published an article about the supposed biases in police shootings. This paper was the product of research conducted with Carlisle E. Moody, published July 21, 2017, called “Do White Police Officers Unfairly Target Black Suspects?”

We collected data for three years on all the police shootings. We gathered a lot of information about the person who was shot, such as their age, race, gender, and things like the time of day, where the shooting occurred, whether the person shot was armed or not and if so, what they were armed with, and whether the person shot was involved in commission of a crime or was suicidal.

This is data that is missed by the CDC and the FBI. We found that the FBI missed 1,333 cases and the CDC missed 741 cases entirely. Our study found no difference in the rate that black or white officers shot black people. There was no statistically significant difference and nothing to indicate racism by white officers. This research is the largest study done on the individual level by far. The paper is available at ssrn.com.

I also continue to promote the work we’ve done in the past that indicated that when more concealed carry permit holders are in an area, we see a big drop in firearm-related crime, and we also see the deaths of police officers go down.

CONCLUSION

Thankfully for gun owners, Dr. Lott has dedicated his career to seeking out the truth, and providing us with the factual ammunition we need to combat the lies. His book, The War on Guns, provides a much more in-depth look at the lies and the facts. As the book explains, data that a lot of gun owners might expect to be factual, such as the FBI database, can be incredibly dishonest. The CPRC website, www.crimeresearch.org, provides us with very useful data and the full text of many articles. To support the effort to find the truth, donations can be made to the CPRC on their website as well.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR

alex-kincaid

Alex Kincaid is a former elected district attorney and current firearms law attorney with over 20 years experience. She’s an active proponent of the Second Amendment, a legal analyst, and author. Alex hosts an online show highlighting current firearms law-related news called The AK Show.
www.alexkincaid.com

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