Research Update: It’s [Still] Not the Guns


Much has changed since last summer. In July 2020, notoriously anti-gun researchers circulated a paper that alleged an association between what they deemed “excess” gun purchases early in the pandemic and violence. This year, the same researchers disproved their original findings with the addition of new data.

Doctor Garen Wintemute and his team at the University of California Firearm Violence Research Center at UC Davis found no association between what they dubbed “excess” firearm purchases and non-domestic firearm violence, and the association they found between excess purchases and domestic firearm violence through May disappeared when either state trends were included in the model or when June and July were added to the time frame.

The findings are buried in the UC Davis press release. ABC News dedicated an article to the original study, but there’s no mention of the newly published research. Bloomberg’s “reporters” at The Trace spent over 700 words on the original study. They added a brief note to that article with a single sentence about the new and contradictory research.

“News” outlets reported on the original non-peer-reviewed paper but spent little to no ink on the new research published in the journal Injury Epidemiology.

Instead, CNN published a piece entitled, “How crime stats lie — and what you need to know to understand them” that cited an anti-gun web scraper for statistics to show an increase in “gun violence.” CNN, of course, used the combined total of suicides, homicides, accidents, and every other intent but focused in on homicides and inserted this line:

“Gun sales also soared during the pandemic.”

That line could only be intended to suggest causality, as if the increase in firearm sales was responsible for the reported increase in homicides. This makes no sense on its face and certainly not considering the latest research from UC Davis. Reports from retailers indicated that self-defense was the primary reason for obtaining a firearm during an unprecedented year of civil unrest, inmate releases, and efforts to defund the police.

Thanks to Wintemute’s team at UC Davis, there is evidence of no association between “excess” firearm sales and increasing firearm-related violence during the early months of the pandemic.

SEE ALSO: John Lott on the Causes Behind the Spike in Homicides

One might say that Wintemute found a protective effect of firearms against non-domestic violence though the results may not be statistically significant. The finding related to domestic violence is what the anti-gun crowd will promote but it does not hold up to scrutiny.

Wintemute’s team claims that “Increases in purchasing may have contributed to additional firearm injuries from domestic violence in April and May.”

The researchers’ found a positive association for April and May when they included “COVID-19 cases and deaths, mobility [a supposed measure of social distancing adherence, using cell phone data], unemployment, baseline firearm purchasing rates, police violence during the George Floyd protests, stay-at-home orders, and average temperature” in the model.”

Take those out, and April no longer has an association between “excess” purchases and firearm-related domestic violence. Add in state-specific linear trends, and both April and May lose the claimed association.

The UC Davis findings are very much dependent on the model specification.

Also of interest is the decrease in effect as successive months of “excess” purchases are added to the model. How could there be an association between “excess” sales and domestic violence through April and May, but not through June or July?

Wintemute and his team claim there were more “excess” purchases in June and July than in any prior month in the study period. June 2020 had the highest number of NICS checks ever (until December 2020). There’s nothing to suggest that “excess” purchases in April and May should be associated with violence but not later “excess” purchases.

As each new month is added, the effect of so-called “excess” purchases on domestic violence perpetrated with firearms decreases. April and May saw a lower rate ratio – meaning a weaker effect – than April; April through June saw a lower rate ratio than April and May; and, April through July saw a lower rate ratio than April through June. One might reasonably expect any effect from “excess purchases” to increase as the excess stock increases in aggregate but that is not the case in this analysis. The final two-time frames were not statistically significant – there was no association between “excess purchases” and domestic violence.

We debunked the notion of excess purchases last summer, when the original article came out and now Wintemute and his staff at the Firearm Violence Research Center at UC Davis have rejected the theory of an association between the so-called “excess” purchases and violence.

Bloomberg-funded researcher Daniel Webster commented on the study for The Guardian and provided the sort of dizzying spin usually reserved for desperate politicians.

It seems Webster wanted a way to reconcile these findings with the anti-gun worldview. Webster offered that perhaps more Americans were willing to carry their firearms, or that the surge in sales was predominantly existing gun owners, or that the increase in homicides may be due to increased illegal carrying of firearms.

Well, he may be on to something with that last trial balloon. Webster referenced reports of an increase in weapons found during arrests in several cities even as the pandemic and other 2020 pressures reduced the overall number of arrests.  Key in on the phrase, “during arrests.”

In other words, criminals.

An increase in criminal behavior just so happens to coincide with an increase in certain types of crime. Next, they’ll tell us that background checks don’t impact crime.

That’s right – both criminals and from Wintemute and Webster, whose previous research determined that California’s universal background check law had no effect on homicide rates, have already proved this.

It’s what we’ve been saying all along.

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{ 6 comments… add one }
  • ken July 26, 2021, 9:41 am

    First: The Democrats are not trying or advocating the defunding of police. As a matter of fact they know the position is bad for them and they continuously take steps to assure anyone listening that they are not for defunding police.

    Second: From the plethora of You Tube videos showing bad guys getting whacked by armed law abiding citizens one could easily argue that much carnage and loss of life and property has been avoided by a greater arming of law abiding citizens. I wish statisticians looked at those numbers.

    Third: The greatest amount of gun violence is being perpetrated by a percent wise small group of youths.
    Big city police departments just have to search everyone that fits the profile and disarm those they find armed. Yes, it violates the Fourth Amendment and searches based on profiling will be thrown out of court but the guns will be off the streets. It may even be better to not charge the perps but to confiscate the guns…. that way the Fourth Amendment issue is not even litigated.

    Last, I am a fit 74 year old Vietnam vet with several Purple Hearts. I was a PC for 12 years after Nam.
    I am originally from a big city, Chicago, and I am a Democrat. I began carrying a 1911 at age 15 when I got crosswise with a real grown up gangster who swore to kill me. I was illegal but I didn’t care. I moved to Texas 24 years ago. I know more gun toting Democrats than you can count. Please don’t think that all Democrats are anti gun.

    • Shanz July 27, 2021, 1:42 pm

      Why do you vote for Democrats? They are a Marxist party now. And you say you fought in Nam? I’m so confused. Do you support our Constitutional Republic by voting for Commies?

  • Terry Constance July 26, 2021, 7:49 am

    Eliminate the criminals!

    Bonding laws that allow the release of someone who used a gun to commit a crime should be abolished. Mandatory sentences and your done.
    Crickets from Congress:(

  • kenneth morley July 23, 2021, 2:34 pm

    The focus on guns as being the underlying cause for the National carnage is yet another liberal democratic sham. A lie and distortion by the corrupt MSM and biden oligarchy to avoid revealing what is common knowledge that the Black population is actually the problem. Statistics , concealed by the media and politicians prove that 96% of all Black homicides are committed by another Black at A rate of 6000 to 8000 per year . Black males in the age bracket that commits 40% of all violent crime makes up @4%of the population. In 2016 9374 arrests for murder were 52% Blacks that make up less than 4% of the population and 60% of prison populations. Reparations ? That would exacerbate the tragedy by providing large sums of money to people who are not prepared to manage their own futures. No doubt firearms , drugs , automobiles , alcohol etc. would be on the shopping list. Until the presence of A dysfunction is identified and admitted to no progress can be made. The steady expansion of welfare programs can be taken as A measure of the disintegration of Black family structure over past generations since 1964’s War on Poverty.

  • James July 21, 2021, 12:34 pm

    The latest catch word from the gun banning groups is “excessive purchasing” of firearms. What will they come up with next? They must lay in bed at night, masterbating and thinking about how they can ban guns.
    In these so called reports and studies, they never mentioned how Democrat politicians are defunding and abolishing police department. So no wonder people are buying guns.
    And how the far leftist politicians are demanding that any criminal be set free without bail, so they can go out and commit more crimes.
    Many cities released criminals in jail during the pandemic, only to have them go out and commit more crimes.
    Drug dealers and street gangs are fighting over “turf” and “drug money” in many major cities and the far leftist politicians blame the increase in crime and shootings on ” white supremacists”. Even sleepy Joe said it was the white supremacists causing all the crime, it must be true, right?
    And the news medis can’t understand why law abiding citizens are purchasing firearms. They tell you that the police will protect you when in fact they are also promoting defund- and abolish the police.
    The squad group wants to abolish police and prisons! Saying social workers can cure criminals. What?
    The gun banning groups and the Chinese run far leftist news media,. group all firearm deaths together, murders, suicide, accident, and police shooting, saying 25,000 are killed each year. If one eliminate suicides, it’s around 12,000. Compare that to car accidents 50,000, drug overdose 75,000 to 100,000, doctors misdiagnosis malpractice over 100,000 a year, doctors kill far more
    patients than guns and cars combined!
    Most of these gun banning groups and news media are run and funded by Micheal Bloomberg, George Soros, the Chinese government, the U.N., and Russia.
    In fact the Chinese government is buying up America farmland, soon will be food shortage here.
    Protect and support your right to keep and own all types of firearms and accessories.
    Don’t let the far leftist, power crazed politicians ban and confiscate our firearms.
    Background checks equal gun registration equals gun confiscation equals you locked away in a gun control concentration camp.
    Don’t forget that the USA had concentration camps during WW2.

  • Big Al 45 July 21, 2021, 11:07 am

    I’d like to see research on the effect that reduced Police presence may have had on overall crime.
    There IS a correlation between reduced Police on the streets and traffic infractions, so it would make some sense that the same effect took place with crime in general.
    The ‘defund the Police’ movement was just plain stupid, IMO.

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