NSSF Responds to Study that Claims Permissive Concealed Carry Laws Don’t Deter Mass Shootings

(Photo: NSSF)

By Elizabeth McGuigan

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 yearshomicide 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.

Elizabeth McGuigan is the Director of Legislative and Policy Research for the National Shooting Sports Foundation, the trade association for the firearms and ammunition industry. Previously, she conducted policy and economic research for the financial industry and advocacy groups in Washington, DC. 

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  • Greg August 1, 2020, 9:50 am

    I’ve refuted ANY arguments regarding concealed weapons and mass shooting claims for some basic logical reasons.
    #1 If a concealed carrier stops a gunman in a crowded place and the gunman has killed 1 or 2 people, then nobody will EVER know if the shooter was going to continue to kill people resulting in the shooting being classified as a “mass shooting” So the left will argue a mass shooting was not stopped.

    #2 If a concealed carrier stops a gunman in a crowded place and the gunman has killed 4 or 5 people, then the shooter has already created a “mass shooting” event. So the left will argue a mass shooting was not stopped, it took place.

    In either case and in any scenario, it’s impossible to claim with certainty that a mass shooting was stopped. It can be shortened, it can take place, or it may never happen, but then it wasn’t a mass shooting in the first place.

    Beware of people arguing with flawed logic. It’s like arguing that your dog in Colorado is keeping Alligators out of your yard because you’ve never had one in your yard.

  • Alan July 31, 2020, 1:11 pm

    Another Marxist trying to further her agenda. Pure fantasy.

  • Easy Eddie July 31, 2020, 12:02 pm

    Factual research and reporting is never really the goal of these ‘studies’. Their primary purpose is to cook the books to support an allegation the ‘researcher’ wants to be true.

    The simple fact exists – if legal gun owners were as violent as such studies make them out to be, we would have seen a very steep decline in the number of registered Democrats. And we have not.

  • Ro July 31, 2020, 11:58 am

    how many crazed murders were law abiding citizens before they commited a violent and unlawful act with a gun?

  • perlcat July 31, 2020, 10:23 am

    Like all liberal “studies”, the conclusion of the report is wholly divorced from the research. The “research” can be good, bad, or indifferent — the conclusion is what gets reported on the non-news, and is essentially opinion claiming to be fact.

    There are only two purposes for the “research” in any lib “study” (AGW, gun control, Trump is a big fat meanie, you name it) — the false legitimacy, and something to distract people who assume this is a fair discussion and try to analyze the research and refute it. I can save you hours of legitimate research that has been done over time and again on any of these lib studies — if the “research” doesn’t match, they aren’t interested in a discussion. Your simple reply is “academic fraud — you have to base your conclusions on your research”.

    Since like a cancer, lib opinion masquerading has fact has overtaken all areas of academia, there is no such thing as legitimate research or peer review. One day, wiser historians will look back on the state of our education, and be unable to tell the difference between it and a self-congratulatory self-serving humble bragging circle-jerk.

  • Charles Jennings July 31, 2020, 8:13 am

    Those committing FF’s are MK ULTRA graduates from the farm.

  • William Sweeney July 31, 2020, 7:35 am

    Gee this is just the perfect liberal study, in fact I would suggest it may have been paid for by some liberal organization in the first place.

  • Bob July 31, 2020, 7:28 am

    Wouldn’t a strong candidate for the “epitome” of gun violence be World War II?

  • Andrew Ling July 31, 2020, 7:16 am

    Why would anyone(knowledgeable) believe this kind or tail wagging just to get funded for the non existent
    conclusion that climbing civilian gun ownership(and CCW permits) does not reduce mass shooting?
    The logic is that the better the public is able to defend against the very few crackpots (be it domestic or other enemy driven terrorists) that want to do us harm. We already have solid data that the armed robberies are declining as a result of increased American gun ownership. Bloomberg is likely behind this “study”.

  • John Bibb July 31, 2020, 5:35 am

    It’s been almost a year since the crazed AK-47 semi-auto clone armed shooter murdered 28 people in one of my El Paso Walmarts. The only thing that stopped his murder spree was his running out of ammo.
    I would have been way more stressed out if I had been unarmed inside that store that horrible day! Or maybe dead depending on my running skills. Too bad that there wasn’t one person that could have blind sided him with a single shot through the head! He was the only one in the store not following their 30-06 Texas prohibition on carrying concealed inside their stores.
    Law abiding Citizens follow laws. Crazed murderers and criminals–not so much!
    John Bibb

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