If you take the time to read this “study” (not just Colorado Politics reporter Michael Karlik’s report on it), you will see that it expends all its energy (and funding) establishing a correlation between gun ownership and mass shootings. However, correlation simply means two phenomena appear to be somehow linked; causation means that one is the cause of the other.
The study’s author, Emma Fridel, an assistant professor at Florida State University, makes no attempt at explaining exactly how gun ownership causes mass shootings. She does not show her state-level data, making it impossible to duplicate her findings (such studies are infamous for cherry-picking states and time frames to yield favorable results). Yet, that does not deter her from claiming that rising gun sales must cause rising crime.
However, there is far more evidence that proves just the reverse: Rising crime causes a rise in gun sales. Every gun store in America will attest that televised rioting and calls to defund police are stoking the current boom in gun sales.
The study has other problems. Fridel barely tips her hat to mounds of problematic research before dismissing it. In doing so, she cites input on mass shooting totals from Michael Bloomberg’s Everytown For Gun Safety, which once included the name of one of the Boston Marathon bombers as a “victim of gun violence.”
Neither does Fridel explain why record U.S. gun sales (remember when Obama was “The greatest gun salesman in the U.S.?”) haven’t resulted in a massive rise in U.S. gun homicides. In fact, totals have remained relatively flat over time: According to the FBI, gun homicide rates dropped in 2017 and again in 2018, and are well below rates of the 1970s.
Fridel repeats multiple gun-control canards, such as “... household gun ownership has been declining since the early 1990s.” The basis of this claim is a 2015 University of Chicago general social survey, which really only found that people have become less likely to tell an anonymous caller that they own a gun. The notion that all the skyrocketing gun sales are going to a shrinking number of existing gunowners is laughable.
Equally laughable is her twisting of the famous quote, “God created man, and Samuel Colt made them equal.” She posits that guns actually embolden criminals of smaller stature to be more aggressive. The huge numbers of women flocking to gun stores to buy their first gun probably have a different take.
And, lastly, Fridel insists firearms violence is “an epidemic.” As a symptom, she cites a 2019 American Psychological Association (APA) study that found “Nearly 80% of American adults experience stress related to mass shootings …”
However, if you make the effort to read the full APA study, you’ll also find this: “There are stark differences in the levels of worry between some demographic subgroups. Most notably, Democrats and Democratic-leaning independents, those who do not personally own a gun, women and younger adults are all significantly more worried than their counterparts.” In other words, gun ownership is good for your mental health.
Karlik should read the 439-page Marjory Stoneman Douglas Public Safety Commission report on the horrific 2018 Parkland, Florida, school massacre. If he would, he would find more credible factors to blame. For example, by the time the shooter was 19, there had been “69 documented instances where (he) threatened someone, engaged in violence, talked about guns or other weapons or engaged in other concerning behavior.” The Broward Sheriff’s Office had a total of 43 contacts with him and his family; he posted on Instagram: “I am going to get this gun when I turn 18 and shoot up the school.”
The commission goes on to detail the failures of the sheriff's office and its fired leader, Scott Israel. It lists multiple failures of the FBI, social services and school officials. Communications between law enforcement and school staff were bungled, students’ fears were dismissed, and response policies and training procedures were inadequate and poorly conceived.
Not once does the commission blame the number of households with guns.
Clay Turner, of Colorado Springs, was the creator and longtime creative director of America’s 1st Freedom magazine, a National Rifle Association publication that covers political, legal and social issues surrounding the Second Amendment for 700,000 member-subscribers.