Publications like Newsweek and even Science love to hit the liberal talking points, especially when it comes to guns. The latest example is a study that supposedly links 60 accidental gun-related deaths to the firearm buying frenzy following the Sandy Hook school shooting five years ago.
Almost five years ago to the day, 20-year-old Adam Lanza shot and killed 20 children and six staff members at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut. In the next five months around three million more gun were sold across the U.S. than usual, and 60 extra accidental gun-related deaths took place.
This is the first time a mass shooting has been linked to a rise in accidental deaths. Above and beyond the 26 people murdered at the school, 60 firearms deaths—including 20 child deaths—were associated with the tragedy. To put this in perspective, there were around 45 accidental gun deaths per month in the U.S. in 2012. An increase of 60 in five months is substantial.
The research was published yesterday in Science.
Economists Philip Levine and Robin McKnight began the project in response to then-President Barack Obama’s post-Sandy Hook call for action on gun violence. They collected Google search data, gun sales data and mortality data to measure the wider impact of the mass shooting. Gun sales were estimated via records of background checks.
The team linked an increase in “exposure to guns” to significantly more accidental deaths.
“It’s almost the iron law of guns,” said Stanford Law School professor John Donahue, Sciencemag reports. Donahue wrote a linked commentary, also published in Science. “You can’t believe how many times some unbelievably terrible thing happens just because a person is carrying a gun, whether it’s a two-year-old kid shooting his mother, or a father demonstrating his gun to his son and killing his daughter.”
However, the information present neglects some crucial details. For example, how does this compare to accident rates prior to Sandy Hook? And don’t give us raw numbers that are less than meaningless without context, give us the context?
After all, if those 60 deaths over 3 million new guns is an increase over where the rate had been before, then that’s one thing. It’s another if that represents a drop prior to Sandy Hook.
As it stands, those death represent one accidental death per 50,000 firearms sold during that time. While that’s clearly way too many, without a point of comparison, the numbers are useless.
Further, it’s unlikely they can definitively connect these accidents to buying post-Sandy Hook. While undoubtedly some of those are tied to those purchases, it’s hard to believe the researchers were able to prove which purchase was tied to which accidental death.
Finally, there’s one more problem that can’t be overstated enough. While the reports cite Sandy Hook as some kind of inciting incident, it fails to mention the Obama administration’s anti-Second Amendment push following the attack. An attack, it should be noted, that was undertaken by a maniac with a weapon he stole from his first murder victim, his own mother.
It was this push that convinced many to step out and purchase their firearms, not the brutal and horrific attack on school children. At no point does anyone look at one of these attacks and thinks, “Oh yeah, that convinced me. I’ve got to get one of these bad boys” in any but the most insane individuals.
Yet a politician talking about needing to ban something? That fires a lot of people up. Nothing is more likely to spur an American to buy something that threatening to ban it.
Honestly, if these accidental deaths are going to be laid at the feet of anything other than the owners’ own negligence–the cause of most so-called “accidents”–it should be the overzealous administration that sought to deprive ordinary Americans of their Second Amendment rights thanks to the act of a madman.