Strategically-timed, Joyce Foundation-funded "study" conveniently links gun ownership and carrying a gun to heavy alcohol use
by Chad D. Baus
One day before Ohio's Restaurant Carry legislation came to a final vote, and after more than two years of debate and countless media articles and editorials repeating the mantra that "guns and alcohol don't mix," the University of California, Davis (UC Davis) released a "study" which they claimed proves that "gun owners who carry concealed weapons or have confronted another person with a gun are more than twice as likely to drink heavily as people who do not own guns."
Further, the UC Davis "study" claims that "binge drinking, chronic heavy alcohol use, and drinking and driving were all more common among gun owners generally than among non-owners," and that "alcohol abuse was most common among firearm owners who participated in gun-related behaviors that carry a risk of violence, which also included having a loaded, unlocked firearm in the home and driving or riding in a vehicle with a loaded firearm."
From the UC Davis News Service:
The highest levels of alcohol abuse were reported by gun owners who engaged in dangerous behavior with their weapons. For example, gun owners who also drove or rode in motor vehicles with loaded guns were more than four times as likely to drink and drive as were people who did not own guns. But gun owners who did not travel with loaded guns were still more than twice as likely to drink and drive as were people who did not own guns.
"It's not surprising that risky behaviors go together," said Garen J. Wintemute, author of the study and director of the UC Davis Violence Prevention Research Program. "This is of particular concern given that alcohol intoxication also impairs a gun user's accuracy as well as his judgment on whether to shoot."
Among the eight states the UC Davis "study" analyzed? Ohio, of course.
This all sounds quite damning, doesn't it? In fact, it sounds as though Ohio legislators should not only have reconsidered their support for "guns in bars" legislation when they voted, but that they should have also immediately acted to ban concealed carry in the state, right?
It may sound that way, which is what we now know was the UC Davis' intent from the outset, before they took the first step toward analyzing any data.
We know this because, in 2009, the university accepted a $175,000 grant from the Joyce Foundation. The funds were marked as a two year grant intended "For core support of the Violence Prevention Research Program's work on research and policy development focused on firearm violence and its prevention."
That's right, the anti-gun rights Joyce Foundation - the same organization that has funded the Ohio Coalition Against Gun Violence to the tune of $688,200 over the past ten years, with millions more going to the Million Mom March Foundation, the Wisconsin Anti-Violence Effort Educational Fund, the Handgun Epidemic Lowering Plan Network, the Council Against Handgun Violence, Legal Community Against Violence, Handgun Free America; the Educational Fund to Stop Gun Violence, the Coalition Against Gun Violence, and the Violence Policy Center. It is also the same organization which once counted as a board member none other than the avowed anti-concealed carry President Barack Obama (Obama recently named a member of the Joyce Foundation-funded International Association of Chiefs of Police to head the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives), and the same organization that counts among its six main Giving Programs the goal of seeking "to drive small gun dealerships out of business by placing the firearms industry completely under consumer product health and safety oversight."
According to analysis at DiscovertheNetworks.org, the Joyce Foundation "misrepresents the findings of research on gun-related deaths by failing to distinguish between gun-related deaths among inner-city gang members, where the death rates from shootings are astronomical, and gun-related deaths among members of the general population, which are relatively rare. As a result, it depicts gun violence as a national epidemic, thereby creating a perceived justification for what it hopes will be the erosion of Second Amendment rights."
A search of the university's website reveals that previous UC Davis's Joyce Foundation-funded "studies" have claimed, for example, that "gun shows and the lack of uniform gun-control laws provide easy access to guns that can be used for criminal purposes" and that "that 1.3 percent of the licensed gun retailers in the state sell 39.4 percent of the handguns used in violent crime. While these are only two examples, it is safe to say that after reviewing more than a dozen articles posted on the university's website, not one of the "studies" bought and paid for by Joyce Foundation grants lead to the conclusion that gun control was NOT a necessity. Surprise, surprise.
So let us return to their most recent "study." Note first that it already includes a bias - the opinion that the very act of having a "loaded, unlocked firearm" in the home or in a motor vehicle carries an inherent "risk of violence." What's more, the simple act of carrying a concealed weapon is defined as risky in this "study."
The problems with the "study" only get worse when we dig deeper. Again from the UC Davis News Service:
[Researchers] analyzed data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System. Study data on firearms ownership and alcohol use came from telephone interviews done in 1996 and 1997 with people in Alaska, Colorado, Hawaii, Mississippi, New Hampshire, New Jersey, North Dakota and Ohio. Participants were asked if they owned a gun, as well as if they engaged in specific firearm-related behaviors. Respondents also were asked about their consumption of alcohol, including whether they have had five or more alcoholic drinks on one occasion; if they drove after consuming "perhaps too much" alcohol; or if they had 60 or more drinks per month.
Not only is UC Davis using 15 year-old data, but in the case of Ohio they are using data that depended on the people who received telephone calls from federal or state officials not only to admit they are a gun owner (many people prefer to keep that type of information private from strangers who call them on the telephone, especially when they are calling from the government), but also to incriminate themselves to these officials by admitting that they are in the regular habit of violating any number of laws. You see, not only is drinking and driving illegal, but concealed carry was also illegal in Ohio at the time they collected this data.
When I inquired about his thoughts on the "study," noted author John Lott (More Guns, Less Crime: Understanding Crime and Gun Control Laws was recently released in its Third Edition!) observed that "there is nothing in this paper's empirical work that differentiates those who have a permit and are legally carrying a concealed handgun and those who are illegally carrying a gun. What Wintemute claims is just completely wrong, and I believe that he is trying to deceive [reporters] on a crucial point here. The only discussion about permit holders is in the "Implications" section, not in the empirical work.
"The bottom line is that it would be much more believable if he could actually point to evidence that permit holders have a higher rate of DUIs or something similar. In fact, the evidence is massively the other way," Lott continued. "It is this lack of a tie to real world experience that makes it so that many academic studies are so completely ignored."
Indeed, the data prove nothing about law-abiding gun owners. At best, all it proves is that some criminals who are are willing to break multiple laws are also stupid enough to incriminate themselves on the telephone.
But to Wintemute, of course, the data prove far more:
"New and more comprehensive research is needed, since legislation authorizing the public carrying of loaded and concealed firearms has become almost universal in the United States," said Wintemute. "Efforts to separate the use of firearms from the use of alcohol may have important benefits for the health and safety of the public. (emphasis added)
And there you have it. Like other "studies" conducted by UCDavis for the Joyce Foundation, this one too comes to the conclusion the Joyce Foundation no-doubt expected when they made their investment: a strong need for a change in public policy in the direction of more gun control.
Anyone want to guess who is going to pay Wintemute to conduct the "new and more comprehensive" research?
Chad D. Baus is the Buckeye Firearms Association Vice Chairman.
[UPDATE: Firearms Industry Warns Retailers of Anti-gun Survey]
 UC Davis Study: More gun owners drink too much, June 15, 2011,
 Grant List: The Joyce Foundation, April 16, 2009, http://www.joycefdn.org/content.cfm/grant-list?GrantID=31277&GrantDetails=1
 Exposed: Ohio anti-gunners' 2004 & 2005 IRS returns
 DiscovertheNetworks.org - Joyce Foundation
 Obama Picks Chicago Anti-Gun Guy Andrew Traver to Head ATF
 DiscovertheNetworks.org - Joyce Foundation
 Shooting holes in gun-control laws, September 11, 2009, http://dateline.ucdavis.edu/dl_detail.php?id=11838
 1 percent of retailers sell 40 percent of guns used in California crime, December 14, 2005, http://www.ucdmc.ucdavis.edu/newsroom/releases/archives/other/2005/gunre...