CDC Questions Impact of Gun Control Laws UPDATE

"In conclusion, the application of imperfect methods to imperfect data has commonly resulted in inconsistent and otherwise insufficient evidence with which to determine the effectiveness of firearms laws in modifying violent outcomes. "

Gun bans don't work

    The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released a study last week that states there is no evidence to prove gun-control laws are effective in preventing violence. No kidding. There always has been substance to the cliche that guns don't kill people, people do. Correlative to that rule is that the criminals who use guns to kill usually possess their weapons illegally. These serial lawbreakers are not deterred by statutes prohibiting or regulating gun ownership. They will continue to use guns to commit violent crimes even if the rest of the population of sitting ducks are disarmed.  

    In the exhaustive brief, the CDC analyzed scientific evidence regarding "bans on specified firearms and ammunition, restrictions on firearm acquisition [including waiting periods], firearm registration and licensing, concealed-carry laws, child-access-prevention laws, zero-tolerance laws for firearms in schools and combinations of firearms laws." The verdict? "The Task Force found insufficient evidence to determine the effectiveness of any of the firearms laws or combinations of laws reviewed on violent outcomes." The task force also concluded that "firearms-related injuries in the United States have declined since 1993" despite the fact that "approximately 4.5 million new firearms are sold each year."

    The CDC maintains that the above conclusions are actually inconclusive, and that more research in needed. Given that a task force of 14 experts spent three years to review 51 different studies to come up with the findings, the only justification for the CDC's equivocation is that the authorities want to continue to research the issue until they reach findings that can be stretched to justify more government regulation.

    All the taxpayer funds spent on this exercise are a waste of cash. Last year, the CDC spent $400,000 on gun reports. That isn't much compared to the $2.6 million they spent on gun studies in 1995 during the Clinton administration. We don't need expensive government studies to convince us that gun-control laws don't make communities safer. When taking away law-abiding citizens' right to defend themselves, it has always been obvious that the only people who become more safe are criminals who mug, rape, carjack and break into our homes. However, many of these same thugs will think twice before victimizing someone who might be packing heat.

    It is offensive when liberals blanketly suggest that the average American isn't responsible enough to own a gun, and that increased gun control is needed to stop gun violence. Crimes committed by those who own guns legally are a statistical blip. The same goes for accidents. The new CDC report is welcome in that it confirms what has long been known: There is no proof that gun-control laws prevent violence. Now, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention should get back to the honorable mission of stopping communicable diseases.   


Impact of Gun Control Laws Questioned
Oct 2, 2003, By KRISTEN WYATT

ATLANTA (AP) - A sweeping federal review of the nation's gun control laws - including mandatory waiting periods and bans on certain weapons - found no proof such measures reduce firearm violence.

The review, released Thursday, was conducted by a task force of scientists appointed by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The CDC said the report suggests more study is needed, not that gun laws don't work. But the agency said it has no plans to spend more money on firearms study.

Some conservatives have said that the CDC should limit itself to studying diseases, and some have complained in the past that the agency has used firearms-tracking data to subtly push gun control. In fact, since a 1996 fight in Congress, the CDC has been prohibited from using funds to press for gun control laws.

Since then, the task force reviewed 51 published studies about the effectiveness of eight types of gun-control laws. The laws included bans on specific firearms or ammunition, measures barring felons from buying guns, and mandatory waiting periods and firearm registration. None of the studies were done by the federal government.

In every case, a CDC task force found "insufficient evidence to determine effectiveness."

"I would not want to speculate on how different groups may interpret this report," said Dr. Sue Binder, Director of CDC's Center for Injury Prevention and Control. "It's simply a review of the literature."

Most of the studies were not funded by the CDC. Gun-control advocates quickly called on the government to fund better research.

A spokesman for the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence said the laws work, but it is nearly impossible to prove it because people can buy guns in one state and carry them into one of the handful of states with strong antigun measures.

"It's hard to study whether gun control laws work in this country because we have so few of them," said Peter Hamm. "Talking about studying gun control in this country is like talking about studying democracy in Iraq."

The National Rifle Association said it needed more time to review the report before commenting on it.

Firearms injuries were the second leading cause of injury deaths, killing 28,663 people in 2000, the most recent year for which data was available. About 58 percent of the deaths were suicides. Gun accidents claimed about 775 lives that year.

About the only conclusion the task force could draw from the surveys was that mandatory waiting periods reduced gun suicides in people over 55. But even that reduction was not big enough to significantly affect gun suicides for the overall population.

The task force complained that many of the studies were inconsistent, too narrow, or poorly done.

"When we say we don't know the effect of a law, we don't mean it has no effect. We mean we don't know," said Dr. Jonathan Fielding, chairman of the CDC task force. "We are calling for additional high-quality studies."

Among the problems:

- Studies on firearm bans and ammunition bans were inconsistent. Some showed the bans decreased violence; others found the bans actually increased violence. Many firearm bans grant exemptions to people who already owned the weapons, making it hard to tell how well a ban worked. Other evidence showed that firearms sales go up right before bans take effect.

- Studies on background checks were also inconsistent, with some showing decreased firearm injuries and others showing increased injuries. A major problem with those studies, the report said, was that "denial of an application does not always stop applicants from acquiring firearms through other means."

- Only four studies examined the effectiveness of firearm registration on violent outcomes, and all of the findings were again inconsistent.

- Too few studies have been done on child-access gun laws to gauge their effectiveness.

- Study periods often are too narrow to tell whether gun laws work. The task force noted that "rates of violence may affect the passage of firearms laws, and firearms laws may then affect rates of violence." ---

On the Net: CDC Injury Prevention and Control: Top/center of page "Spotlights...."


Gun law flaws surprise to few

Neither opponents nor proponents of tougher gun control laws were surprised Friday when the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found no proof the statutes reduce firearm violence.

"I've been saying that for 25 years," said Robert Crook, executive director for the Coalition of Connecticut Sportsmen. "Tougher gun-control laws only effect the law-abiding citizen. Criminals will do whatever they have to get a gun."

The CDC appointed a task force of scientists to review 51 published studies about the effectiveness of eight types of gun-control laws, including banning specific firearms or ammunition, barring felons from buying firearms, and setting mandatory waiting periods and registration requirements.

In every case the task force found "insufficient evidence to determine effectiveness." The agency said it would not spend money on any future studies.

"No, it doesn't surprise me," Matt Bennett, a spokesman for the Americans for Gun Safety Foundation, said about CDCP's findings. "What concerns us is that there are laws on the books that no one is being prosecuted for."

There's one particular issue that upsets Rick Millo, the owner of Valley Firearms in Shelton.

Millo can't understand why people who lie on their background check and are refused permission to purchase a gun aren't prosecuted.

"That's a crime [that carries a maximum five-year prison term]," said Millo. "But I know of no one who was prosecuted."

His claim is borne out by the Americans for Gun Safety Foundation, which examined federal prosecutions for gun crimes in all 50 states.

They claim that Connecticut in those two years was one of two states to have no prosecutions under that law despite an estimated 470 people lying on the forms.

They also claim that federal prosecutors in Connecticut brought no charges under laws that prohibit possession of a firearm in a school zone or selling firearms to a minor.

"The federal statistics show clearly that 'enforce the gun laws on the books' is a slogan, not a policy," said Jim Kessler, AGSF research and policy director.

But U.S. Attorney Kevin J. O'Connor defended his office, saying the prosecution of gun crimes has increased 100 percent since 2001.

O'Connor, who became Connecticut's chief federal prosecutor last November, conceded that the largest numbers of federal prosecutions for gun crimes are of felons in possession of firearms. That charge carries a minimum five-year sentence.

"What worries me right now is a felon walking down the street with a gun," said O'Connor. "One way we've found that we can save lives is by taking that person off the street."

He pointed out that eight of the nine homicides solved in Hartford last year were committed by felons illegally possessing firearms.

He said his Project Safe Neighborhoods programs in New Haven and Bridgeport is one reason the murder rates are down in those two communities. That program involves a weekly review by state and federal prosecutors of all arrests in which a gun was found by police in those communities.

O'Connor said he could easily triple the number of felony possession charges brought by federal prosecutors. However, he said he's found more can be accomplished by working with state prosecutors and using the threat of federal charges to obtain state court guilty pleas.

Crook and Millo applaud any effort that targets the real source of gun crimes -criminals.

"If we want to reduce gun crimes, going after the criminals who commit them is the way to go," said Crook.

Bennett said federal law enforcement agencies like the FBI and the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosive Devices could do much more.

For instance, Bennett said they could:

Michael P. Mayko, who covers legal issues, can be reached at 330-6286.,1413,96%7E3750%7E1676652,00.html

AGS Foundation:

CDC REPORT ON GUN CONTROL CONFIRMS LAWS DON'T WORK, SAYS Citizens Committee for the Right to Keep and Bear Arms

BELLEVUE, WA-A report released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) showing that there is no conclusive evidence that gun control laws contribute to decreases in vio! lent crime or suicide "proves what we have been saying for years," the Citizens Committee for the Right to Keep and Bear Arms (CCRKBA) said today.

"For years," said CCRKBA Executive Director Joe Waldron, "anti-gun groups, often citing the CDC's earlier biased research, had claimed more gun laws will reduce violent crime and suicide. CDC stopped conducting advocacy research in 1996 by order of Congress. Now, according to more balanced research, the CDC is basically acknowledging that its earlier efforts, and those of extremist gun grabbers, have been all wet."

Yet the CDC, evidently unhappy with the available research, wants to study the issue more, arguing that there is "insufficient evidence to determine the effectiveness of any of the firearms laws reviewed for preventing violence." Waldron rejected that as more partisan politics.

"Because the CDC could not reach yet another anti-gun conclusion," he said, "they want to study some more, at least until they come up w! ith a report that squared with their long-standing anti-gun agenda. That doesn't wash. For the first time, CDC has had to acknowledge that gun control doesn't work."

The report brought an incredulous comment from Peter Hamm with the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence: "It's hard to study whether gun control laws work in this country because we have so few of them."

CCRKBA Chairman Alan Gottlieb offered this blistering response: "Hamm is half-baked. Gun ownership in this country is heavily regulated by a Pandora's Box of federal, state and local gun laws, many which often conflict with one another to the point that private citizens cannot know whether they are obeying a law while breaking another. The CDC report seems to confirm what we've been saying all along. Gun control laws have no impact on criminals, only law-abiding citizens who don't commit crimes. To suggest we need more laws when the ones already passed as successive panaceas apparently haven't worked is ludicrous.

"The CDC's suggestion for additional studies, simply because they don't like the results of their own research, is like treating a patient with drugs that you know aren't working, so you give him more of the same drugs," Gottlieb observed.