Banning Private Sales Costs Lives (Published Study)


Dean Weingarten
January 18, 2013, 12:20 PM
In a paper published in 2008, comparing highly regulated Californian gun shows with relatively unregulated Texas gun shows, there was no statistical difference in suicide rates, but the Texas shows, with far less regulation, showed a statistically significant drop in the homicide rate.

From the study:

"But our results provide little evidence of a gun show-induced increase in mortality in Texas. In fact, we find that in the two weeks following a gun show, the average number of gun homicides declines in the area surrounding the gun show. Aggregating across all gun shows in the state, we find that there are approximately 16 fewer gun homicides resulting from the 200 gun shows in the average year. In the sections below, we discuss several possible explanations for this counterintuitive finding. However, it is important to keep in mind that while these results are statistically significant, they are quite small representing just one percent of all homicides in Texas in the average year."

This was not a small study. It included data for 10 years and 3,300 gun shows. The two states chosen, California and Texas, contain 20 percent of the population of the United States. It was not conducted by firearm freedom advocates or the NRA.

The evidence is clear. Stopping private sales at guns shows costs lives. President Obama's demand that all private sales be approved of by state agents before they can be made, is counterproductive and will cost innocent lives.

If this seems counterintuitive to you, consider that there is considerable evidence that more guns result in less crime. The logic to support this is not unreasonable. It is that criminals often make rational decisions based on their understanding of the environment that they are in. If they believe that their intended victim may be armed, they will often chose another target, decide not to commit the crime, or decide to commit a non-confrontational crime such as theft from an unoccupied vehicle.

When criminals notice that a gun show is being held in an area, and people can more easily buy and sell guns, it is reasonable to believe that they would understand that potential victims could be armed. This belief would then result in less homicides.

The important thing about this study is that it shows a statistically significant drop in homicides while there is no statistical difference in suicides.

The statistical significance shows that this is not a random artifact of the data gathering process, but is a real effect.

The study shows that requiring universal background checks, in Texas alone, would cost 16 lives per year.

Dean Weingarten

Link to Paper:Gunshows-sept08-final.pdf

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January 18, 2013, 12:25 PM
This is the University of Michigan study being referenced, "The Effect of Gun Shows on Gun-Related Deaths: Evidence from California and Texas" ( I'll point out the gunwatch blogspot was not using the final published paper, but was instead using a draft. I've provided the link to the published version, but also must caution that the NBER papers are not peer reviewed so they carry less weight than a peer reviewed publication.

Regardless, we have a respected university group publishing a study showing there's no indication that minimally regulated gun show sales have a negative impact on violent crime and suicide OR that highly regulated gunshows in California where all private sales have to undergo a background check, firearms themselves are restricted as to type and capacity of magazine, and a waiting period is required produce any beneficial effect on violent crime or suicide rates. This further demonstrates what other studies have shown, that laws imposing restrictions on gun owners as to type or magazine capacity of firearms has no beneficial effect on violent crime rates and that the proposed list of restrictive laws being called for can not and will not produce any beneficial results nationally on violent crime rates.

We should not make the mistake of thinking that the conclusions of the study are that that banning private sales cost lives. That's NOT what the study says. What we need to take away from it and put out to everyone we can is that this study, the CDC, National Research Council, DOJ studies and the annual DOJ/FBI Uniform Crime Reports say that none of the "gun control" laws do anything beneficial across the country to reduce violent crime, murder, or murders with firearms. No benefit, waste of resources, distracts/detracts from finding real solutions in reducing violent crime rates (which have been dropping since the expiration of the AWB and while AR sales have been growing).

Thousands of gun shows take place in the U.S. each year. Gun control advocates argue that because sales at gun shows are much less regulated than other sales, such shows make it easier for potential criminals to obtain a gun. Similarly, one might be concerned that gun shows would exacerbate suicide rates by providing individuals considering suicide with a more lethal means of ending their lives. On the other hand, proponents argue that gun shows are innocuous since potential criminals can acquire guns quite easily through other black market sales or theft. In this paper, we use data from Gun and Knife Show Calendar combined with vital statistics data to examine the effect of gun shows. We find no evidence that gun shows lead to substantial increases in either gun homicides or suicides. In addition, tighter regulation of gun shows does not appear to reduce the number of firearms-related deaths.

Dean Weingarten
January 18, 2013, 02:18 PM
While the link goes to the draft study, the quote about the effect of gun shows in Texas is the same in both links. It is also true that the only statistically significant effect that the authors found was the reduction of homicides in Texas.

It is clear from reading the paper, that they did not expect this effect. In fact, they call it "counterintuitive", which shows that it was opposite of what their predetermined mindset was. I do not think we should dismiss the only statisticallly significant findings of the study so quickly.

Thank you for the link to the final study.

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