I hate to say it, but once again my friends in the gun-control research community have produced a study which, if anything, attempts to explain gun violence in a way which demonstrates absolutely no necessary connection between guns and violence at all. And worse, the study represents yet another narrative which the gun-control community will use to make sure that the gulf between gun owners and non-gun owners stay as wide as ever, if not getting a little worse.

              The study comes from the Wintemute group at U.C./Davis, and is based on two data sets: (1). The number of guns transferred over the counter nad subject to FBI-NICS background checks; and, (2). the number of shootings scraped from media reports by the Gun Violence Archive (GVA.) The study finds what the researchers refer to as an ‘association’ between an increase in background checks and shootings coincident with the spread of Covud-19 over several months.

              The authors are clear on the limitations of their data, stating it like this: “GVA and NICS data provide imperfect measures of firearm violence and purchasing, respectively. To bias our results, however, there would need to be similarly-timed differential changes across states in GVA or NICS reporting. Disagreement between NICS checks and purchased firearms would most likely result from an increase in multiple-firearm transactions during surges in purchasing, which would introduce a conservative bias in estimates of the number of firearms purchased during surges. Additionally, we have no information on whether the excess firearms acquired were those used in violence.”

              After all the blah-blah-blah above, note the last sentence. So they have “no information” on whether any of the guns that folks rushed into gun shops to buy during the pandemic were used in a single shooting event during the same period of time. So what does this study actually tell us about the threat to public safety when gun sales go up? It tells us nothing at all. Period. End of story.

              I learned about this study because it was mentioned in my current copy of American Rifleman magazine which arrived today. And of course the article was reviewed in negative terms, because the last thing the NRA is about to do is question the decision by members of Gun-nut Nation to buy another gun as a protective response to Covid-19. When do gun sales surge? Only when people get scared. And it doesn’t matter whether they’re afraid of a disease, or natural disaster, or a gun-control President in the White House, guns are purchased out of fear.

              But guns used in gun violence for are used for reasons which have absolutely nothing to do with the reasons that people who can pass a background check buy guns. And since, as the authors of this study admit, they have absolutely no idea whether any of the ‘excess’ guns purchased during the Pandemic had anything to do with the recent surge in shootings, the study’s argument about some kind of ‘association’ between legal gun sales and shootings is nothing but whole cloth.  And worse, it’s an argument designed to give Gun-control Nation ‘ammunition’ to use in demanding more stringent regulations over the ownership and use of guns, as if this study does anything to explain whether there is any connection between legally-purchased weapons and guns that are used to shoot people down in the street.

              As long as a majority of Americans believe that access to a gun is more of a benefit than a risk, as long as this belief continues to spur gun sales during periods of national anxiety and concern, there will be no (read: no) effective change in gun laws at all.  And maybe some of my friends in Gun-control Nation would actually sit down and try to figure out a narrative which would convince at least some gun owners that guns aren’t a benefit but are a risk.

              You’re not going to develop a rhetorical or lawful response to gun violence by conducting a study which shows an ‘association’ between legal gun purchases and violent crimes committed with guns. You won’t.