News Media Promotes Bogus CCW Study

by J. Neil Schulman

March, 1995

Let's start with the following AP wire story from March 13, 1995, titled, "Relaxed Gun Laws Mean More Deaths":

This is a typical media story intended to make you think that the more guns you have, the more endangered you are. It has already been the basis for the Los Angeles Times to editorialize against reforming California's laws which currently make it impossible for most Californians to carry firearms for self- protection without threat of arrest and prosecution under Penal Code Section 12025.

The AP story is carefully crafted to pull selected data from a study designed by anti-gun zealots who cloak themselves in the lab coats of medical research being conducted for the federal government; then it goes even further to misrepresent the study authors' own conclusions to make them seem firm and sweeping proof of the evil of guns.

It won't work this time. I read the study.

It's titled "Easing Concealed Firearm Laws: Effects on Homicide in Three States." Authors are David McDowall, Colin Loftin, and Brian Wiersema. Th paper is dated January, 1995, and marked "Violence Research Group Discussion Paper 15." You can get a copy from the Department of Criminology & Criminal Justice, 2220 Samuel Lefrak Hall, College Park, MD 20742-8235 / 301-405-4735.

The fourth paragraph on page 1 states: "In 1985 the National Rifle Association announced that it would lobby for shall issue laws."

Footnote 1 on page 1 states: "This research was supported by grant R49-CCR-306268 from the U.S. Public Health Service. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention."

Well, we know a couple of things right off. The funding came from federal tax dollars which were designated for the control and prevention of DISEASES. Instead, it was diverted >from disease control and prevention into LOBBYING against NRA- proposed CCW reform laws USING TAX MONEY. Using tax money for lobbying is ILLEGAL. Since we have a U.S. attorney general in this country who is on the side of the anti-gun conspirators in the CDC, I suggest writing to the appropriate Congressional oversight committees for the CDC, demanding a special prosecutor.

Next, who do we see listed as a researcher on this study? We see Colin Loftin -- a gun-control zealot whose previous "study" tried to prove that a decrease in Washington D.C.'s homicide rate was a consequence of D.C.'s passage of increased gun prohibitions. That Loftin study has been shot full of holes on grounds that the decrease in homicide in D.C. was a trend established BEFORE the D.C. law was passed, that it didn't study homicide RATES because it failed to take into account the decrease in Washington D.C.'s population during the study period, and that Loftin carefully cut off his study at the point when homicide in D.C. started CLIMBING again.

Okay, let's get to this new "study" from Dr. Loftin and friends.

First of all, it was highly selective in what areas it looked at. It looked at "several urban areas within Florida, Mississippi, and Oregon."

It did not study homicides statewide in states which had modified its CCW issuance laws.

By focusing on urban areas, the study was sure to select data from areas where criminal gangs are increasingly using firearms in their drug wars -- cases where criminal gangsters are shooting each other. Since both offenders and victims in these cases are criminals who wouldn't apply for CCW licenses, data >from these areas are irrelevant to ordinary people legally carrying guns for protection.

It did not study murder, it studied homicides. It did not study whether these homicides were murders, justifiable homicides, or excusable homicides. The source of the homicides was not even >from police investigations; the study says "we used death certificate data compiled by the National Center for Health Statistics."

And it did NOT study homicides linked to holders of CCW licenses. There is no statement anywhere in this "study" that a single homicide was committed by a CCW license holder in the states studied.

The "theory" under which this statistical correlation between easing of CCW's and the increase in homicide is as follows:

What linkage is claimed for the study? NONE. These two paragraphs are based on "might raise," "could therefore result," "may lead to," "for example ... have more reason to," "may be less likely to view."

This isn't science -- it's speculation.

And it's not even speculation grounded in anything -- it's exactly the sort of speculation gun-control advocates use every time easing of carry prohibitions is proposed: every argument following a traffic accident is speculated to degenerate into a shootout -- despite the fact that in the twenty-some states which have easy carrying, IT DOESN'T HAPPEN.

There is NO EVIDENCE collected or presented in this study that holders of CCW licenses are the types of people who commit "impulsive acts" in which easier availability of firearms would be likely to increase violence. The "study" didn't look at CCW license holders at all.

Why?

Because if the study HAD looked at CCW license holders, it would have found that this speculation is UNGROUNDED. The sorts of "impulsive" people to whom easier access of firearms might result in increased violence are those with no self-control: in other words, exactly the sort of criminal psychopaths that this "study" went out of its way to locate by concentrating on inner cities occupied by criminal gangsters.

The figures from the Florida Department of State clearly show that the criminal misuse of their firearms by CCW license holders is so rare as to be statistically NONEXISTENT: perhaps one case in 12,000 for ANY misuse -- even technical violations -- and perhaps only one criminal homicide in 180,000 some persons issued CCW licenses since October 1, 1987.

The speculation as to whether criminals will be more likely to carry guns if their victims are armed can be quantified by data from the Wright-Rossi study reported in the book ARMED AND CONSIDERED DANGEROUS: A Survey of Felons and Their Firearms, by James D. Wright and Peter H. Rossi. This study was conducted for the Carter Administration, and at the time of their research, Wright and Rossi were gun-control advocates looking for proof that gun-control reduces crime. When their data contradicted their opinions, they were honest enough scientists to report what they had found and advocate public policy based on the actual scientific findings.

Wright and Rossi discovered that while 50% of the gun criminals they surveyed did give as a reason carrying a gun because their victim might be armed, 60% of gun criminals agreed that "most criminals are more worried about meeting an armed victim than they are about running into the police," one-third said that they had personally been "scared off, shot at, wounded, or captured by an armed victim," and "About two-fifths reported having decided at least once in their lives not to commit a crime because they had reason to suspect that the intended victim was armed."

Wright and Rossi note: "Many of these men's 'victims' are in all likelihood men much like themselves. The armed victim encounters reported by this sample may well be confrontations between two men with equally felonious histories and motives as between hard-core perpetrators and total innocents."

Yes, I noted the "may well be" in the above paragraph -- but this speculation, published in 1986, was confirmed in 1992 by MURDER ANALYSIS by the Detective Division of the Chicago Police Department, which found that 65.53% of the murder victims in their study of all murders they investigated in the previous year had a previous criminal record.

Again, all this speaks to the issue of why this study focused on urban areas where you'd be likely to find criminals shooting at each other -- and where gun-carrying by ordinary people is statistically irrelevant because they aren't involved.

Finally, the speculation that easing CCW license issuance might lead to a relaxation of enforcement of non-licensed gun carrying is refuted by Florida's own laws. Carrying a concealed firearm in Florida WITHOUT a Florida CCW license is a FELONY.

Conclusion: since the McDowall-Loftin-Wiersema "study" isn't reporting any linkage of an increase of shooting homicides to persons holding CCW licenses having been involved in these shootings as either perpetrators or victims -- and since the authors' speculations on a linkage are refuted by other criminological work -- it ends up as a meaningless statistical comparison, akin to comparing the rise in the Dow Jones Index to the raising of women's hemlines: no rational mechanism for the linkage is even being offered.

The study concludes: "The stronger conclusion is that shall issue laws do not reduce homicides, at least in large urban areas."

Well, how could they -- when the criminals are avoiding encounters with possibly armed strangers -- as Wright-Rossi found -- and shooting other criminals whose carrying of guns is unaffected by the change in carry laws which they don't pay attention to anyway?

"The weaker conclusion is that shall issue laws raise levels of firearm murders. Coupled with a lack of influence on murders by other means, the laws thus increase the frequency of homicide."

And this conclusion is not only "weaker," it is utterly unfounded because the study's bogus design didn't look at the question of homicides involving CCW license holders and has produced no grounded linkage between the increasing gun-homicide trends between and among criminals, and the ordinary people who carry guns for protection who might have started doing so when they could do so without risk of legal penalty.

And even the authors are afraid to do more than speculate, perhaps fearing that making refutable claims will interfere with their getting more federal bucks next time: "Despite this evidence," McDowall, Loftin, and Wiersema write, "we do not firmly conclude that shall issue licensing leads to more firearm homicides. This is so because the effects varied over the study areas. Firearm homicides significantly increased in only three areas, and one witnesses an insignificant decrease. In combination, the increase in gun homicides was large and statistically significant. Yet we have only five replications, AND TWO OF THESE DO NOT CLEARLY FIT THE PATTERN." [Emphasis added by Schulman.]

In other words, even their bogus design study couldn't find the data they were looking for to battle the NRA.

Yet, does the AP wire story report that the study's authors consider their conclusions "weak" and that two of the five cases they looked at do not support their conclusions? Do they quote the authors stating, "we do not firmly conclude that shall issue licensing leads to more firearm homicides"?

Is the headline, "Researchers Fail to Establish Linkage Between CCW Licenses and Homicide"?

Nope. The Associated Press headlined its story, "Relaxed Gun Laws Mean More Deaths."

Let's do this right for once. The Associated Press, one of the premiere news reporting organizations in the world, lied.

I eagerly await their retraction.

"Easing Concealed Firearm Laws: Effects on Homicide in Three States" by David McDowall, Colin Loftin and Brian Wiersema is bogus science at best and criminal misuse of federal tax dollars at worst.

It was designed to produce the headline of the AP wire story -- "Relaxed Gun Laws Mean More Deaths." The Associated Press wants you to believe that a new scientific study proves that making it easier for the public to carry guns legally will increase gun-related murders of innocent people -- a conclusion which is completely unsupported even by the claims of the researchers.

This is further proof that in the absence of any provable case that the increase in availability of guns by ordinary civilians will have adverse effects on society, gun-ban zealots will lie, under cover of science, in an attempt to provide their willing co-conspirators in the mass media soundbytes to try to fool the American people into being passive victims relying on the government to save them from armed and dangerous criminals.


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