Sunday, January 04, 2015

Studies: Guns do no harm or have some benefit

Korean Americans Preventing Firebombing and Looting
A common claim of disarmists on the Internet is that guns in society increase violence and death.   Sometimes the disarmists go to the trouble of citing a "study" that claims that where there are more guns, there are more deaths with guns.   That is false logic.  The same claim can be made for hospitals.   No one wants people to die in hospitals.  We can eliminate all hospital deaths by banning hospitals.   Of course, the overall number of preventable deaths will then increase.  The same logic applies to automobiles.  

In societies with small numbers of automobiles, the number of deaths associated with automobiles is smaller than in the United. States.  For example, the number of deaths associated with automobiles in the Palestine territories is about one fourth of that in the United States, per 100,000 population.  Disarmists ignore positive uses of guns.

Nearly everyone who considers it understands that the death of a person who is attempting rape and murder is preferable to the death of their victims.  Justified homicides are by definition preferable to unjustifiable homicides.  Rapes, murders and robberies prevented are preferable to rapes, murders, and robberies committed.

It is not the number of deaths by a particular instrument that is important, but the overall unjustified homicide rate.  A higher rate of legal gun ownership might mean a higher or a lower rate of unjustified homicide.   Guns can prevent crime as well as facilitate it.

Here are citations of studies showing that the number of guns in a society does not correlate to higher crime or suicide rates, or has a positive effect.

Kates and Mauser: Would Banning Firearms Reduce Murder and Suicide?
Harvard Journal of Law & Public Policy   2007

John Lott, More Guns, Less Crime (interview)  Book, Third edition, 2010.  
Other refereed empirical academic studies besides the original paper with David Mustard that have supported Lott's conclusions include the following.
  • William Alan Bartley and Mark A. Cohen, Vanderbilt University, "The Effect of Concealed Weapons Laws: An Extreme Bound Analysis", Economic Inquiry, 1998.[18]
  • Florenz Plassmann, State University of New York at Binghamton, and John Whitley, University of Adelaide, 'Confirming "More Guns, Less Crime"', Stanford Law Review, 2003.[19]
  • Carlisle E. Moody, College of William and Mary, and Thomas B. Marvell, Justec Research, "The Debate on Shall-Issue Laws", Econ Journal Watch, 2008.[21] 
The first study on firearms controls in England and Wales, 1972 shows virtually no effect on crime:

Colin Greenwood: Firearms Control in England and Wales

It is buttressed by the extensive study by  Joyce Lee Malcolm:
Guns and Violence, the English Experience

Finally, here is a critique of the medicalized "studies" about guns.  It notes the extreme means that are resorted to so as not to recognize any positive effects from gun ownership.   It is as if someone was testing a drug as a cancer treatment, but refused to look at the increased risk of stroke associated with usage of the drug. The article was originally published in the Tennessee Law Review.   Guns and Public Health: Epidemic of Violence or Pandemic of Propaganda?     
Health advocates see no problem reconciling such an openly political agenda with the demands of scholarship. After all, guns are hateful things for which no decent purpose is imaginable, certainly not self-defense.[12] Society's need to radically reduce gun availability is an inarguable truth to which there can be no legitimate opposition. Arrayed against the beneficent alliance of health advocates and anti-gun political advocates are only sinister "powerful lobbies that impede constructive exploration of the full range of social options"[13] by nefarious (p.518)machinations, including racist propaganda cunningly designed to exploit white Americans' irrational fears of crime.[14]
The outward forms of scholarship must be observed, but the academic ideal of scholarly detachment is inapplicable. This is a struggle between modern enlightenment and, at best, morally obtuse and intellectually benighted atavism. There is no time for arid, academic discussion; the need for gun control is too urgent to require--or allow--equivocation, doubt, debate, or dissent.[15]
The continued advocacy of long-overdue gun control is a constructive long-term approach to [reducing violence]. We reason that the time has come for government and citizens to begin a reasoned dialogue on the "why not" of gun ownership. If the conduct of youth [sic] and the need for harmony of humans with Nature is valuable to health and civilization, the world's most powerful country may not find justification for an armed citizenry.[16]
Moreover, there is no point to discussion, detached reflection, or dissent in a struggle between the forces of light and darkness. Evidence or perspectives that (p.519)might induce skepticism or produce delay are per se invalid inventions of the Neanderthal racist gun lovers.[17]
In comparison, here is the description of the result of criminological studies into gun control:
Scholars engaged in serious criminological research into "gun control" have found themselves forced, often very reluctantly,[42] into four largely negative propositions. First, there is no persuasive evidence that gun ownership causes ordinary, responsible, law abiding adults to murder or engage in any other criminal behavior--though guns can facilitate crime by those who were independently inclined toward it. Second, the value of firearms in defending victims has been greatly underestimated. Third, gun controls are innately very difficult to enforce.[43](p.527)
It is a long article, well footnoted, and it clearly shows how politicized and emotional the "health literature" studies have been.  If you are only going to read one article, and dig into it, I suggest the "Guns and Public Health" article quoted above.
 Definition of  disarmist 

©2015 by Dean Weingarten: Permission to share is granted when this notice is included.
Link to Gun Watch

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