Here’s a pro-tip for all of you who will be seeing headlines in coming days from “news” articles writing about a recent “scientific” study on gun violence: Any time you see such a study purport to examine “gun violence” but actually examine “homicide” and “suicide,” you can be pretty sure it’s a hack job.

I’ve written on this conflation of “gun violence” with “homicide” and “suicide” before (such as Faux Science: Claim that homicides surged under Florida’s “Stand-Your-Ground” law), but in the past few days another large “gun violence” study that does precisely this has been published–The Impact of State Firearm Laws on Homicide and Suicide Deaths in the USA, 1991–2016: a Panel Study–and we’ll be seeing a lot of “news” stories based on this study in the usual gun control media (but I repeat myself).

The stated objective of this study is: “To examine the relationship between state firearm laws and overall homicide and suicide rates at the state level across all 50 states over a 26-year period.” (I note in passing that the study is behind a paywall and requires $39.95 to access the full text. This cost helps ensure that few private individuals will critically read the actual study, and instead will necessarily rely on the #fakenews anti-Second Amendment propagandized interpretation of the study.)

So, let’s take a look at why it’s scientific malfeasance to conflate “gun violence” with “homicide” and “suicide.”

“Homicide” ≠ “Unlawful gun violence”

Using “homicide” as a synonym for criminal conduct is unforgivably stupid at the best or aggressively malicious at worst, and in either case fatally undermines the credibility of the study’s authors.

Why? Because homicide literally simply means one person killed another, and not all homicides are, in fact, criminal conduct. Some homicides are unlawful killings, such as murder or manslaughter. Other homicides are not only lawful, but arguably a social good—such as a single mother shooting and killing the man attempting to rape and maim her and her child.

Researchers who study “gun violence” by examining “homicides” are conflating criminal predation and lawful self-defense, and essentially arguing that there is no legal or moral distinction between them. I disagree. And so does the law.

If a change in gun laws purportedly results in an increased homicide rate, we have no idea if that change was socially positive or negative unless we know if the homicides were lawful or unlawful.

A state that changed from a costly permitting process for concealed carry to zero-cost permit-less Constitutional Carry might well see an increase in law-abiding (especially poor, law-abiding) people carrying guns for personal protection. The pool of lawful people prepared to defend themselves against deadly force criminal predation has thus expanded. Therefore it should surprise no one if there occurs an increase in lawful defensive uses of guns, and thus an increase in homicides committed in lawful self-defense.

Is that supposed to be a “bad” social outcome, given that the alternative must necessarily be a smaller pool of law-abiding people able to defend themselves against violent criminal predators, and thus a greater number of innocent victims—victims of murder, rape, maiming—than if those law-abiding people had been armed for self-defense? I think not. I think such an increase in “homicides”—lawful killings in necessary self-defense—is a good social outcome.

The mere fact that homicides may have increased isn’t necessarily a bad thing. It may simply mean that more law-abiding people are arming themselves for self-defense and successfully defending themselves against violent criminal predation. Conversely, a drop in homicides would not necessarily be a good thing, if what that really meant was that fewer home-invading rapists were stopped by their victims.

Bottom line: whether homicides are “bad” or “good” is a function of who is doing the dying.

“Suicide” Is a Mental Health, not a “Gun Violence,” Problem

Using “suicide” as a synonym for “gun violence” is even more reprehensible. Suicide is a mental health problem, not a criminal violence problem. This is obvious simply by looking at Japan, where private gun ownership is effectively non-existent and yet the suicide rate is higher than in the United States.

So why do these “scientists” include “suicide” in their “gun violence” studies? In order to inflate their data—the large majority of gun deaths in the United States are, in fact, suicides rather than acts of criminal predation. These “scientists” thus conflate “gun violence” with “suicide” in order to inflate the apparent social importance of their “science” and thus of themselves.

It’s #fakescience.

Don’t be fooled by #fakescience, folks.

As always: You carry a gun so you’re hard to kill. Know the law so you’re hard to convict.


Attorney Andrew F. Branca
Law of Self Defense

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