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Did the National Research Council Report on “Firearms and Violence: A Critical Review” show that right-to-carry laws don’t reduce crime?

CrimeResearch.org |

What is ignored by gun control advocates in discussions of the NRC report is that the report studied over 100 different types of gun control proposal and that it didn’t reach a conclusion on any of them and only called for more research.  Yet, no gun control advocates would say that the NRC debunked their favorite gun control laws.

For example,

— on page 2 of the report: “there is almost no empirical evidence that the more than 80 prevention programs focused on gun-related violence have had any effect.” p. 219: “we found no credible scientific evidence in the Institute of Medicine’s report or elsewhere that demonstrates whether safety devices can effectively lower injury.”

— p. 98: “handgun ban yields no conclusive evidence with respect to the impact of such bans on crime and violence.”

— p. 99: “We have documented what is known about how people obtain firearms for criminal activities and identified the weaknesses of existing evaluations of interventions. There is not much empirical evidence that assesses whether attempts to reduce criminal access to firearms will reduce

— p. 219: “we found no credible scientific evidence in the Institute of Medicine’s report or elsewhere that demonstrates whether safety devices can effectively lower injury.” p. 98: “handgun ban yields no conclusive evidence with respect to the impact of such bans on crime and violence.” p. 99: “We have documented what is known about how people obtain firearms for criminal activities and identified the weaknesses of existing evaluations of interventions. There is not much empirical evidence that assesses whether attempts to reduce criminal access to firearms will reduce

— p. 98: “handgun ban yields no conclusive evidence with respect to the impact of such bans on crime and violence.” p. 99: “We have documented what is known about how people obtain firearms for criminal activities and identified the weaknesses of existing evaluations of interventions. There is not much empirical evidence that assesses whether attempts to reduce criminal access to firearms will reduce

— p. 99: “We have documented what is known about how people obtain firearms for criminal activities and identified the weaknesses of existing evaluations of interventions. There is not much empirical evidence that assesses whether attempts to reduce criminal access to firearms will reduce gun availability or gun crime.”

— p. 229: “the available research evidence on the deterrent effects of firearms sentencing enhancements on firearm-related crime is mixed, with city-level studies suggesting reductions in firearm-related homicides and possibly other types of firearm-related crime in urban settings (McDowall et al., 1992), as well as nationwide studies suggesting no crime prevention effects at the state level (Marvell and Moody, 1995). The committee recommends more rigorous study of firearms sentencing enhancement laws” For prevention programs and technology: “The committee recommends that firearm violence prevention programs should be based on general prevention theory, that government programs should incorporate evaluation into implementation efforts, and that a sustained body of empirical research be developed to study the effects of different safety technologies on violence and crime.”

And on and on.

Dissents for NRC reports are very rare. Being on a panel is a cushy, prestigious position, and there is a lot of pressure to sign on to any conclusion. Those who don’t aren’t invited back to be on future panels. Over the ten years prior to the Firearms and Violence report, there were only two dissents out of the previous 236 reports by the NRC. Wilson himself had been on four of these panels and never previously wanted to write a dissent, including the previous panel that attacked work showing that the death penalty deters crime.  So there was actually more support in the report for right-to-carry laws than there was for any other gun control — the opposite of what is typically claimed.

But for Wilson, the firearms panel was different. Wilson’s dissent was not only rare, he was also forceful: “In view of the confirmation of the findings that shall-issue laws drive down the murder rate, it is hard for me to understand why these claims are called ‘fragile.’”

Wilson said that that panel’s conclusion raises concerns given that “virtually every reanalysis done by the committee” confirmed right-to-carry laws reduced crime. He found the committee’s only evidence that didn’t confirm the drop in crime “quite puzzling.” The result that they pointed to was co-produced by John Donohue, a law professor at Stanford, and accounted for “no control variables” – nothing on any of the social, demographic, and public policies that might affect crime. Furthermore, Wilson didn’t understand how evidence that was not publishabled in a peer-reviewed journal would be given such weight.

Some such as Donohue have been called on his claims before, but if anything, his claims regarding the NRC report have become even stronger.  Here is a public debate from Intelligence Squared in 2008 that followed the second quote noted above (1 hour and 13 minutes and 40 seconds into the video).

JOHN DONOHUE: But, again, this is exactly what the National Academy of Science looked at. And, they concluded the opposite, that the data did not—
GARY KLECK: They did not conclude the opposite.
JOHN DONOHUE: They concluded that the data does not support the proposition that we’re debating today which is that guns reduce crime.

GARY KLECK: No, actually what that report persistently said was, we don’t have strong enough evidence to draw firm conclusions about virtually every issue they addressed, so, that was more of a no-decision decision than it was reaching the opposite conclusion, they did not reach the conclusion that making it easy to get a carry permit increases crime. They did not conclude that John Lott was wrong, and basically, you know, you learn nothing from what that particular panel said—
JOHN DONVAN: I’ve read the same report and I have to say, Gary, that I read it the same way, actually, it was a bit of a Pontius Pilate moment that didn’t know who was right or who was wrong.

Yet, continued public rebukes such as this have had no effect on Donohues incorrect claims.

Source:  https://crimeresearch.org/2017/08/national-research-council-report-firearms-violence-critical-review-show-right-carry-laws-dont-reduce-crime/

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