Gun control study fails attempt to prove myth that gun possession doesn't make you safer
By Eugene Volokh
"Guns Did Not Protect Those Who Possessed Them from Being Shot in an Assault."
So reports a press release posted at ScienceDaily.com, which also says:
The study estimated that people with a gun were 4.5 times more likely to be shot in an assault than those not possessing a gun.
“This study helps resolve the long-standing debate about whether guns are protective or perilous,” notes study author Charles C. Branas, PhD, Associate Professor of Epidemiology. “Will possessing a firearm always safeguard against harm or will it promote a false sense of security?” …
Penn researchers investigated the link between being shot in an assault and a person’s possession of a gun at the time of the shooting. As identified by police and medical examiners, they randomly selected 677 cases of Philadelphia residents who were shot in an assault from 2003 to 2006. Six percent of these cases were in possession of a gun (such as in a holster, pocket, waistband, or vehicle) when they were shot.
These shooting cases were matched to Philadelphia residents who acted as the study’s controls. To identify the controls, trained phone canvassers called random Philadelphians soon after a reported shooting and asked about their possession of a gun at the time of the shooting. These random Philadelphians had not been shot and had nothing to do with the shooting. This is the same approach that epidemiologists have historically used to establish links between such things as smoking and lung cancer or drinking and car crashes.
This was promptly echoed in the Philadelphia Daily News.
Conspicuously missing from the press release and the news story were two critical limitations that were admitted in the original study. These qualifiers mean that the press release headline, as well as all the other statements and implications of causation, were quite mistaken. Perhaps defensive possession and carrying of guns helps protect the possessor and carrier, and perhaps it doesn't. But the study sheds virtually no light on the subject.
Click here to read the entire analysis.