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The Many Flaws with the Pediatrics Mortality Gun Control Study

A new gun control study titled “State Gun Laws and Pediatric Firearm-Related Mortality” that was published in Pediatrics has been recently making its rounds through the media, touted as scientific evidence by those in favor of more gun control that stricter gun laws do indeed help prevent gun deaths.

According to the study’s conclusion, states that have stricter gun control laws on the books report fewer gun deaths among Americans age 21 and under.

It’s an appealing study for the anti-gun crowd; not only does it supposedly demonstrate the effectiveness of gun control, it also supposedly shows that more laws helps protect the lives of the most innocent and vulnerable Americans – the youth. However, “State Gun Laws and Pediatric Firearm-Related Mortality” is also a deeply-flawed study with a number of glaring issues.

Perhaps the biggest flaw with the study is the fact that it is cross-sectional. If you really want to know the effect that a law has on crime in an area, you need to look at the area’s crime statistics both before and after the law is enacted and compare the two.

Cross-sectional studies such as “State Gun Laws and Pediatric Firearm-Related Mortality”, though, do not do this. Instead, the study only looks at current statistics regarding pediatric gun deaths across numerous states without comparing those statistics to the number of gun deaths that occurred before the laws were enacted.

In other words, it’s impossible to tell based on this study alone whether or not it was the laws that were put in place actually made a difference in the number of pediatric gun deaths. For this reason, the study was not considered rigorous enough to be included in the RAND Corporation gun-study review. In fact, the RAND corporation chose to exclude all cross-sectional studies from their review entirely.

The second key flaw with the “State Gun Laws and Pediatric Firearm-Related Mortality” study is the fact that it only looks at gun deaths and not violent crime as a whole. Those who are used to debating with the anti-gun crowd are all too familiar with this common gap in reasoning.

The United Kingdom for example, has much fewer gun deaths per capita than the United States, and this fact is often touted as evidence that the strict gun control laws in the UK are working. However, the UK actually has a higher rate of violent crime than the US.

In the end, violent crime is the only statistic that matters. It doesn’t matter whether you are shot, stabbed, or beaten to death with a blunt object, the end result is still the same. Gun control laws may sometimes lower the number of gun deaths, but if they don’t lower violent crime overall then they are worthless. This is something that the “State Gun Laws and Pediatric Firearm-Related Mortality” study completely fails to take into account.

Lastly, while anti-gun media outlets are quick to point out the fact that the study shows a correlation between stricter gun laws and fewer pediatric gun deaths, there is another result within the study that they have chosen to ignore. The “State Gun Laws and Pediatric Firearm-Related Mortality” study included gun ownership as one of the variables that it looked at. What the study found was that states with a gun ownership rate that is higher than the national median actually report 4% fewer gun deaths per capita than the national average.

This result seems to fly in the face of the study’s conclusion. After all, if states that have a higher gun ownership rate report fewer gun deaths then how is it possible to conclude that laws designed to limit gun ownership reduce gun deaths?

These are just a few of the many issues with the “State Gun Laws and Pediatric Firearm-Related Mortality”, and several more could have made the list – including the fact that the study only looks at three specific gun laws, two of which have been passed in only three states or less.

While anti-gun media outlets are all too happy to report on this new study, the study should not be taken seriously by anyone who is on the fence about the effectiveness of gun control laws.


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