A recent study has been getting plenty of attention from Fox News. They are using it as ammunition in the “more guns equals more safety” argument, which has led to counter-intuitive rulings like allowing concealed firearms at the nation’s capital. The only problem with the study is that it’s been utterly discredited.
For starters, you must consider the source of the study: the Crime Prevention Research Center. Despite the unassuming name, the CPRC has a definite agenda that is not objective data analysis. The center is headed by John R. Lott Jr., who is author of a totally unbiased book titled More Guns, Less Crime. Oh, and as a day job, Mr. Lott is currently a columnist for Fox News.
Let’s ignore the fact that there are obvious conflicts of interest here and take a look at what others in the field have to say of Lott’s “research.” Daniel Webster, director of the Johns Hopkins Center for Gun Policy and Research, spoke with the Washington Post about the problems with the methodology. Primarily, outdated data being used to conflate two casual trends of an increase in concealed carry permits being issued and the decline of crime (which has been on a downward trend for decades).
According to Webster, the best study of the limited data that poor funding for gun violence research allows makes a different claim than Lott. It was compiled by Abhay Aneja and John J. Donohue of Stanford and Alexandria Zhang of Johns Hopkins. Using numbers that span three decades, the report states
Overall, the most consistent, albeit not uniform, finding to emerge from both the state and the county panel data models conducted over the entire 1977–2006 period with and without state trends and using three different models is that aggravated assault rises when [right-to-carry] laws are adopted.
Since first introducing his ideas in the 90s, Lott has been holding considerable sway among politicians, while simultaneously losing credibility among the academia. This is the atmosphere that allows gun violence to continue to surge in the U.S.—more attention is paid to the loudest voices rather than the wisest.