Study Proves Gun Laws Reduce Homicides and Suicides? Not So Fast, Says Dr. Lott

The study suggests that gun control laws work, but it has some serious flaws.

A study released this month from the RAND Corporation sounds like good news for gun control advocates.

According to the study’s authors, the 18 states with the most restrictive child access, right-to-carry, and “stand-your-ground” laws experienced an 11 percent reduction in firearm deaths (homicides and suicides) between 1980 and 2016.

If these restrictive policies were implemented nationwide, the authors claim, the United States could see 4,475 fewer gun-related deaths each year.

“It appears that state policies restricting how people store, carry, and use their weapons are likely to have a small, but meaningful effect on reducing the number of firearm-related suicides and homicides in a state,” said Terry Schell, lead author of the study and a behavioral scientist at RAND, a nonprofit research organization.

There’s just one problem: the study is garbage.

“None of their results are statistically significant. This is not a serious paper,” Dr. John R. Lott, president of the Crime Prevention Research Center, told GunsAmerica.

SEE ALSO: John Lott on Bloomberg’s Racial Remarks, Stop-And-Frisk Initiative

Lott points to the confidence interval the authors use to analyze their data. The confidence interval is the likelihood that the true value (in this case, the effect of gun laws) lies within a certain range. To determine statistically significant results, most studies use a confidence interval between 95 and 99 percent, Lott says. This study uses a confidence interval of 80 percent.

“I have never previously seen a paper that uses 80 perfect confidence intervals,” Lott said. “It is clear that they did that because they wouldn’t have gotten any statistically significant results if they used 95% or even 90% confidence intervals.”

The authors make a number of other fallacious assumptions.  

They assume, for example, that the impact of right-to-carry laws causes a large, immediate increase in the number of permits. But that is not the case, Lott said, because states differ widely on how they issue permits – even when they have shall-issue laws on the books.

SEE ALSO: Lott Exposes Hollywood’s Bias Against Guns in Epic Video

Even the study’s authors admit that their analysis is flawed. They note in the final paragraphs of the paper that perpetrators of homicides and suicides may very well achieve the same outcomes by different means.

They also admit that they have no way of knowing whether their observations represent the causal effects of gun laws or the effects of other variables. In other words, even if a state sees a drop in gun-related homicides and suicides, gun policies might not be responsible for that drop.

So far, RAND’s study hasn’t garnered a lot of attention from the anti-gun lobby or the mainstream media. But you can bet that its limitations won’t stop them from reporting the top-line “results” without any of the limiting factors.

The study:

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About the author: Jordan Michaels has been reviewing firearm-related products for over six years and enjoying them for much longer. With family in Canada, he’s seen first hand how quickly the right to self-defense can be stripped from law-abiding citizens. He escaped that statist paradise at a young age, married a sixth-generation Texan, and currently lives in Tyler. Got a hot tip? Send him an email at

{ 7 comments… add one }
  • SGT-ADA June 26, 2020, 4:36 pm

    I agree that this study is fatally flawed. Not only is CI too low to be scientifically valid, the researchers admit that they ran multiple simulations until they “cherry-picked” a procedure that fit their preconceived results. If you go to the appendix outlining the chosen methodology to analyze the data (which had a built in bias because the violent crime studied has been reducing without any legal intervention) looks like a calculation to determine how to send a satellite to Mars instead of a simple statistical methodology to study known variables. In other words, it appears they “cooked the books” to come to a preconceived outcome. To illustrate, the child variable was extended to the age of 19. Because a person is an adult by that age, both “child” suicides and murders are overstated and skews the securing of firearms factor’s importance on reducing such instances. I could go on, but why waste any more time tearing apart a patently unscientific and flawed “study.”

  • Michael Katsonis June 26, 2020, 2:47 pm

    Notice under the headline the Rand Corporation is located in Santa Monica, California; and the now gun banning city of Alexandria, Virginia. Do you think there is any biased agenda?

  • John Stanton June 26, 2020, 11:09 am

    You’d have to be a complete idiot to buy into these “scientific” studies. Open your eyes and take a look at chicago. Very restrictive gun laws and yet in the last month or so hundreds of people have been shot and many, including tiny children 3 and 5 years old, have been killed. If you watch the b.s. media you would hardly know about this. democratic run cities, counties and states and innocent people injured and killed. And now the defund police push, may as well paint bullseyes on everyone!

  • Zupglick June 26, 2020, 9:40 am

    Another meaningless “study” by a bunch of eggheads who massaged the data to get their desired results.

  • tomlightfield June 26, 2020, 9:33 am

    Yeah those gun laws are working out just great!! Chicago has some of the most restrictive gun laws in the country yet continues to lead the race as the top city in gun murders!!! Those laws are really working GREAT!!!!

  • Big Al 45 June 26, 2020, 9:26 am

    Hmm, Rand Corp. Non Profit, Shall we see who their contributors are?
    I just love when ‘junk science’ is uncovered by real experts.

  • Huapakechi June 26, 2020, 8:53 am

    academia has nothing better to do than dream up “studies” that supposedly prove that citizens should be disarmed, children benefit from the mayhem of “common core” curriculum, and socialism is a viable political/economic system of governance. And “global warming”.

    Just ignore the obvious contradictions and evidence that proves them wrong.

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