Now There’s a Thought


Holding purveyors of anti-gun junk science accountable?

by Kurt Hofmann
St. Louis Gun Rights Examiner

An article last month in the Conducive Chronicle raised the question of civil liability for publishing studies (or enabling their publishing) that support the “wrong” side of the climate change debate–or even making involvement in such studies illegal (emphasis added):

Which raises the question: if these studies are largely designed not to shed light on climate change, but to create doubt and confusion to delay greenhouse gas regulations, why is it legal, and do those deliberately spreading misinformation face liability?

Entrance into the debate about anthropogenic climate change is obviously far beyond the scope of St. Louis Gun Rights Examiner, so what am I getting at? Just that if, as the article puts it, “deliberate manipulation of science” in an effort to influence policy becomes illegal, the forcible citizen disarmament lobby might want to “lawyer up.”

Examples? Glad you asked.There are many to choose from, but let’s start with the famous Arthur Kellermann “study,” published in the New England Journal of Medicine, claiming that a gun kept in the home was a whopping 43 times as likely to be used in a murder, suicide, or accidental shooting, than to be used in successful self-defense (a ratio which steadily decreased, as problems with it were pointed out). Kellermann has been effectively debunked many times, but for those interested, offers a superb rebuttal.

More recently, an article by Charles Branas and others, published in the American Journal of Public Health, claimed that a person in possession of a gun is 4.46 times more likely to be shot than one who is not. Jacob Sullum, of, pointed out a fatal flaw with the “reasoning” the authors used:

The one explanation Branas et al. don’t mention is that people who anticipate violent confrontations—such as drug dealers, frequently robbed bodega owners, and women with angry ex-boyfriends—might be especially likely to possess guns, just as people who jump out of airplanes are especially likely to possess parachutes. The closest the authors come to acknowledging that possibility is their admission, toward the end of the article, that they “did not account for the potential of reverse causation between gun possession and gun assault”—that is, the possibility that a high risk of being shot “causes” gun ownership, as opposed to the other way around.

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A rather important factor being left out of consideration, don’t you think?

One more example would be the “studies,” including those commissioned by United States senators, that ignore the difference between the total number of guns recovered in Mexico, and the number submitted to the BATFE and successfully traced. Those studies also ignore the fact that “American-sourced guns” include those “gunwalked” by the Obama administration, and those approved for transfer by the Hillary Clinton State Department, which then get diverted to the criminals.

The intent here is not really to advocate suing or prosecuting those who push dubious “studies” that support more oppressive gun laws. Instead, let this be seen as a warning against placing restrictions on the First Amendment, based on what those sitting in judgment determine to be the “wrong” side of any scientific debate. It might sound attractive when your side is in power, but can you count on that balance of power lasting forever?

See also:

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