Skip to main content

NSSF: Misleading Story on Gun Ownership Chases Own Tail

Perspective from the National Shooting Sports Foundation.

NSSF: Misleading Story on Gun Ownership Chases Own Tail

Shutterstock image

A new study seeks to connect gun ownership levels and concealed carry laws with mass shootings and other firearm homicides. The author, Emma E. Fridel of Florida State University, attempts to compare the impact of gun ownership and concealed carry legislation on the incidence rate of mass shootings and firearm homicide in the U.S. from 1991-2016. How does the author do this? By using questionable data to argue for predetermined conclusions. This is agenda-driven “research” at its worst.

An Exercise in Cognitive Dissonance

The study is a wonderful case study of the kind of doublethink required to connect non-existent dots in gun control literature. For example, right off the bat, the author asserts that, “Mass shootings represent the epitome of the firearms violence epidemic.” She then goes onto say that these tragedies “account for less than 1% of all homicides in the United States.”

Let’s put aside for a moment the bias inherent in calling crimes an epidemic. We know that homicides represent only one-third of firearm fatalities in a given year (the overwhelming majority being suicides, which are not addressed in this study despite the growing trend and large numbers). Yet, the author is claiming that mass shootings are the “epitome” of the problem?


Author’s Anti-gun Bias is Clear


Throughout her study, the author makes it clear that she is operating under the assumption that lower levels of gun ownership is better for society. For example, she states that, “Although household gun ownership has been declining since the early 1990s … gun purchases and permit applications spike dramatically in the wake of infamous mass shootings …” We know that this reported decline is questionable at best, but it is concerning that she frames the problem here as purchases increasing following mass shooting incidents.

In fact, the author notes that “Nearly 80% of American adults experience stress related to mass shootings…” and also that “56% of Americans believe that increased gun-carrying in public makes the nation safer…” So, if Americans are stressed about the fortunately rare incidents of mass shootings, perhaps increasing the number of states allowing the legal carrying of firearms would help alleviate this stress and serve as a stress-reducing factor for society.

Literature Review Finds Zero Backing for Study Assumptions

The author’s literature review is similarly muddied. While noting studies that show a wide variety of conclusions, the author cites a handful of studies, including those from the 1960s and 1970s, to support her claim that “prior research has consistently shown that gun ownership rates are positively associated with the firearms homicide rate.” This is false. Throughout recent years, homicide rates are generally declining as gun ownership rates are rising.


The author acknowledges there is not a demonstrated causal relationship later in the study when she notes that, “In most studies, it remains unclear if there are more homicides in areas with more guns, or people obtain guns for self-protection because they live in dangerous areas.” She then goes on to point out the research that shows there is no relationship between gun ownership and mass shooting rates. It’s not clear why the study does not conclude here, as the mass shootings are the “epitome” of gun violence, particularly as she goes on to note that the research on the impact of concealed carry legislation is “even murkier” and “decidedly mixed.” This is also misleading, as valid research has shown that concealed carry laws decrease violent crime rates.

Database or Creative Art Project?

Getting into the data sources, the author uses a creative mix of media sources, gun control groups and others to cobble together what she argues is a valid dataset. Seeing as these data are not made public, we will remain skeptical that this is in any way an accurate count of crimes.


When considering the control variables to examine, the author neglects to include some of those widely accepted to have a causal relationship with crime rates including: population density and degree of urbanization, cultural, education, and recreational factors, effective strength of law enforcement agencies, criminal prosecution rates and other factors. Instead she includes factors such as alcohol consumption and hunting licenses.

Even more concerning is the author’s coding of concealed carry legislation as a binary measure, while she notes earlier that there are three types of concealed carry laws in the U.S. and that even within these three categories, the laws vary dramatically from state to state. Lumping together disparate policies is an oversimplification with very real limitations.

Conclusion: More Uncertainty

Despite the methodological bias and flawed data, the author determined that gun ownership was not a predictor of firearm homicide and concealed carry laws are not associated with mass shooting incidents.

She did attempt to draw a connection between concealed carry laws and homicide rates; however, her analysis is subject to the same limitations that led her to note earlier that it is just as likely that people in areas with high crime rates purchase firearms for protection. It is stunning, then, that the author is willing to make the unsupported claim that, “permissive concealed carry legislation is a significant contributor to the gun violence epidemic in the United States.”

This is the perfect, albeit unfounded, ending to a study rife with conflicting assertions, questionable data sources and overt bias.

GunVote2020
NSSF graphic

#GUNVOTE 2020: Help Drive Voter Registration

NSSF is urging all industry businesses to download and display NSSF's #GUNVOTE® icon on their company websites and incorporate #GUNVOTE messages in their social media campaigns.

National Shooting Sports Foundation aims to promote, protect and preserve hunting and the shooting sports. Formed in 1961, NSSF has a membership of thousands of manufacturers, distributors, firearms retailers, shooting ranges, sportsmen's organizations and publishers nationwide.

GET THE NEWSLETTER Join the List and Never Miss a Thing.

Recommended Articles

See More Recommendations

Popular Videos

Understanding Reel Retrieve Ratios and How it Affects Lure Presentations

Understanding Reel Retrieve Ratios and How it Affects Lure Presentations

Increase a lure’s effectiveness by pairing it with the ideal reel speed.

Action and Power Ratings- How to Choose the Right Bass Rod

Action and Power Ratings- How to Choose the Right Bass Rod

Most fishing rods feature both an action and a power rating, but what do those ratings mean and how do you use them to select the right rod for different scenarios? In this video, outdoor writer and tackle specialist Shane Beilue breaks down the difference between a rod blank’s action and power and discusses what the various ratings of each mean.

Hunting Elk with the Ruger Hawkeye Long Range Hunter in 6.5 PRC

Hunting Elk with the Ruger Hawkeye Long Range Hunter in 6.5 PRC

Michael Cassidy and Paul Pluff talk about their elk hunt in New Mexico using the Ruger Hawkeye Long Range Hunter.

Hobie MirageDrive 360 Kayak Propulsion: Amazing Control and Power

Hobie MirageDrive 360 Kayak Propulsion: Amazing Control and Power

The Hobie MirageDrive 360 pedal propulsion system is the pinnacle of kayak control with more efficient fin designs, glide technology and allows the boat to be moved in any direction.

See More Popular Videos

Trending Articles

Simplify breakfast or brunch for a crowd by making this savory venison chorizo quiche recipe.Southwestern Venison Chorizo Quiche Recipe Wild Game

Southwestern Venison Chorizo Quiche Recipe

Allie Doran - October 30, 2020

Simplify breakfast or brunch for a crowd by making this savory venison chorizo quiche recipe.

In need of a rugged container to sip from in the backcountry? We've got you covered. From tumblers to bottles to flasks (and even clever bottle openers), we've rounded up some of the best bar gear for the outdoors.Ultimate Outdoor Bar Gear Roundup The Deck

Ultimate Outdoor Bar Gear Roundup

Chelsie Walters and Jessyca Sortillon - August 31, 2020

In need of a rugged container to sip from in the backcountry? We've got you covered. From...

As most catfish anglers know, blue cats, channel cats and flatheads will eat darn near anything that fits in their mouths.5 Ways To Catch Catfish on Lures Catfish

5 Ways To Catch Catfish on Lures

Keith Sutton

As most catfish anglers know, blue cats, channel cats and flatheads will eat darn near...

Quick look at common, easy-to-catch fish species (video).Get On Board: Species 101 for Beginning Anglers Other Freshwater

Get On Board: Species 101 for Beginning Anglers

Game & Fish Staff

Quick look at common, easy-to-catch fish species (video).

See More Trending Articles

More Conservation & Politics

See More Conservation & Politics

Magazine Cover

GET THE MAGAZINE Subscribe & Save

Digital Now Included!

SUBSCRIBE NOW

Give a Gift   |   Subscriber Services

PREVIEW THIS MONTH'S ISSUE Arrow

Buy Digital Single Issues

Don't miss an issue.
Buy single digital issue for your phone or tablet.

Buy Single Digital Issue on the Game & Fish App

Other Magazines

Special Interest Magazines

See All Special Interest Magazines

GET THE NEWSLETTER Join the List and Never Miss a Thing.

Phone Icon

Get Digital Access.

All Game & Fish subscribers now have digital access to their magazine content. This means you have the option to read your magazine on most popular phones and tablets.

To get started, click the link below to visit mymagnow.com and learn how to access your digital magazine.

Get Digital Access

Not a Subscriber?
Subscribe Now