Harvard Study from 2007 Resurfaces During Gun Control Debate

Study shows burden of proof lies on those who say guns lead to more murder

While the entire United States looks for ways to reduce gun-related death and general gun violence, an old study from 2007 that was published in the Harvard University journal has regained attention to point out some flaws in gun control logic.

In the independent research titled “Would Banning Firearms Reduce Murder and Suicide?,” that was published within the in Journal of Public Law and Policy, Don B. Kates, a criminologist and constitutional lawyer, and Gary Mauser, Ph.D., a Canadian criminologist and professor at Simon Fraser University, researchers looked at the correlation between guns and death rates.

“International evidence and comparisons have long been offered as proof of the mantra that more guns mean more deaths and that fewer guns, therefore, mean fewer deaths. Unfortunately, such discussions [have] all too often been afflicted by misconceptions and factual error and focus on comparisons that are unrepresentative,” according to the introduction.

Within the 46-page study, Kates and Mauser compared data from the U.S. And areas within Europe that showed strict laws do not necessarily mean crime is lowered. One such example pointed to “intentional deaths,” (murders) on the international level. Data from Russia and the United States showed that the murder rate in the former is actually higher than in the United States.

There is a compound assertion that guns are uniquely available in the United States compared with other modern developed nations, which is why the United States has by far the highest murder rate. Though these assertions have been endlessly repeated, [the latter] is, in fact, false and [the former] is substantially so,” the authors point out, based on their research.

Neither Kates or Mauser were saying that gun control causes higher rates, but rather looked to disprove the conventional wisdom of the opposite (That removing guns lowers murder rates).

The study stated:

“…the burden of proof rests on the proponents of the more guns equal more death and fewer guns equal less death mantra, especially since they argue public policy ought to be based on that mantra. To bear that burden would at the very least require showing that a large number of nations with more guns have more death and that nations that have imposed stringent gun controls have achieved substantial reductions in criminal violence (or suicide). But those correlations are not observed when a large number of nations are compared across the world.”

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