Noted gun violence researcher Dr. Garen Wintermute, of the UC Davis Violence Prevention Research Program, says a just released study that implies that gun laws save lives is inconclusive.
The study, by Dr. Eric Fleegler of the Boston Children’s Hospital, was released in the online version of the Journal of the American Medical Association. It looked at the number and strength of gun laws in each state and compared them the number of firearms fatalities.
There is a correlation.
“What they found was that the more laws a state has on balance lower was its firearm mortality rate,” said Wintermute.
But he also said there is no evidence that gun laws were responsible for fewer gun deaths.
“The fact that two things are present at the same time doesn’t mean one of those things caused the other,” said Wintermute.
Wintermute also said there was no examination of how each state enforced those laws or how effective each law was.
In addition, there was no way to tell if the gun laws states curbed gun ownership in low death rate states or if people there don’t own guns and or care to thus making it easier to pass gun laws.
Wintermute says more data based research has to be done. The problem is that reliable data hasn’t been collected in a number of years handicapping researchers.
For now he says the new study isn’t useful in directing gun policy.
“We cannot say these laws individually or in aggregate drive firearm death rates up or down,” said Wintermute.
The medical community is involved in gun violence research because it’s in the business of saving lives. Wintermute and the UC Davis Violence Prevention Research Program has been at the forefront of gun violence prevention research. Wintermute says the date it’s developed has been used by gun rights advocates and gun control groups. He says good science has to guide public policy in a highly political environment.