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Monday, June 15, 2015

Gun Ban Advocates Use Faulty Research to Push Gun Licensing

Representative Chris Van Hollen (D - MD) has introduced a new bill in Congress that would require states to enact handgun licensing schemes or face the loss of federal funding.  Van Hollen is using a new study by Daniel Webster and others from the Bloomberg funded Johns Hopkins "Center for Gun Policy and Research" as proof that such laws reduce crime committed with firearms.   From The Hill:
The Handgun Purchaser Licensing Act would zero in on handgun purchases, but exempt rifles and other types of firearms.

It is backed by a study from the Johns Hopkins Center for Gun Policy and Research that found handgun licenses dramatically reduce homicide rates.

“Of the thousands of Americans murdered every single year by firearms, nearly 90 percent of those deaths occur with a handgun,” Van Hollen said. “With mothers, fathers, sisters, brothers, and friends dying every day because of guns, there is no question that gun violence is tearing at the fabric of our communities."

In addition to Van Hollen, who is running for the Senate, three Connecticut Democrats back the handgun bill: Rep. Elizabeth Esty, Sen. Richard Blumenthal and Sen. Chris Murphy. Connecticut was the site of the Sandy Hook elementary school massacre in 2012.

Their bill would provide states with an incentive to strengthen their guns laws. States that follow through with the handgun regulations would receive federal funding to carry them out, while those that refused would risk losing money.

To qualify, states would have to implement laws that require prospective gun owners to apply for a firearms license from a local police station. They would be required to pass a background check, including submitting fingerprints and photographs.

Those who pass the background check would receive a firearms license that they must provide to purchase a handgun.

The Democrats say the handgun bill would help law enforcement officials weed out criminals and other people who are not allowed to purchase guns.
But Dr. John Lott points out Webster has cherry picked the data to support his conclusion:
Their results are also extremely sensitive to the last year that they pick.  While it is true that Connecticut’s firearm homicide rate fell by 40% from 1995 to 2005, it only fell by 16% between 1995 and 2006 and 12.5% between 1995 and 2010.  Meanwhile the drops for the US and the rest of the Northeast are much greater.  From 1995 and 2006, the firearm homicide rates for the US and the rest of the Northeast fell respectively by 27% and 22%.  From 1995 and 2010, the drops were 39% and 31%.  The longer samples show a relative increase in Connecticut’s firearm homicide rate whether Rudolph et al. had looked at one additional year or five additional years.
This is not the first time Webster has "cherry picked" data to support his preconceived conclusions.  He did the same thing in the Missouri study that was used with the Connecticut study to push the licensing scheme.

This is one more example that congress did the right thing prohibiting tax payer money to pay for research that pushes gun control.  Webster is a gun ban advocate and each of his studies start at the end he wants to achieve and then he finds the data to support those conclusions.


alpha754293 said...

Did you actually READ the Rudolph, Stuart, Vernick, and Webster paper (2015)?
He actually describes the principle methodology as the same used or devised by Abadie, Diamond, and Hainmueller (2010).

So...either Dr. John Lott is an idiot and he didn't quite read the paper in its entirity or he read it, but didn't understand it, or didn't bother to cross-reference with Abadie, Diamond, and Hainmueller (in order to try to find an answer as to why Rudolph et. al. used only 10 years' worth of data).

You'd have to be NOT an idiot to actually look up the principle methodology, to ask the question, and to look it up and read up on why that method/approach is taken for estimating policy impacts before you can claim that Webster et. al. are "cherry picking" their data (which I can only presume that neither you nor Dr. Lott has done so.)

alpha754293 said...

(See Abadie, Diamond, Hainmueller (2010). "Synthetic Control Methods for Comparative Case Studies: Estimating the Effect of California's Tobacco Control Program", Journal of the American Statistical Associatioin, June 2010, Vol. 105, No. 490, Applications and Case Studies, p. 498)