Inconvenient studies get buried by the media

Inconvenient studies get buried by the media
AP Photo/Shafkat Anowar

A couple of months back–or last year, if you care to look at it that way–Cam wrote about an interesting study that took a look at the impact of Massachusetts gun laws. Or, more precisely, the lack of any real impact. It’s one of the more interesting studies we’ve seen lately.


And then we don’t see it much of anywhere else.

Oh, it pops up here or there. I came across it at a site that basically just reports on studies.

While Congress has yet to pass nationwide gun control legislation measures, some state legislatures have enacted stricter gun control laws aimed at reducing violence in their communities. However, a recent study finds gun laws in at least one state aren’t doing that job. A team at American University analyzed the impact of one such measure in Massachusetts and found stricter background checks and licensing policies made little to no difference in curbing violent crimes.

In light of these results, study authors ponder if officials are doing enough to enforce these new policies.

“Gun violence remains at the forefront of the public policy debate when it comes to enacting new or strengthening existing gun legislation in the United States,” explains study author Janice Iwama, assistant professor of justice, law, and criminology at AU, in a media release. “Yet the political polarization and relatively limited scholarly research on guns and gun violence make it difficult for policymakers and practitioners to enact and implement legislation that addresses the public health and safety issues associated with gun violence.”

Using this approach, the research team was able to estimate, based on percentage of firearms licenses, that one to five percent of adult Massachusetts residents had a gun license. However, results also show the new gun control measures did not have a “consistent effect” on reducing four types of violent crimes — murder or manslaughter, aggravated assault, robbery, and rape.

Notably, a one-percent increase in denied firearm licenses and denied firearm licenses following statutory disqualifications increased robberies by 7.3 and 8.9 percent, respectively.


Now, this is an interesting study, and it’s something we should have had significant debate over. We should have run a dozen or so posts discussing it and responding to others who addressed this.

Instead, what we got was the digital version of crickets chirping.

It wasn’t absolute silence, but it was damn close. The Boston Herald reported it, but that’s probably the largest publication to do so. This wasn’t reported on CNN or MSNBC so far as I can tell. There wasn’t a New York Times or Chicago Sun story about it, either. I can’t say it just vanished because it’s still popping up in niche sites, but it just wasn’t really news.


Of course, we all know why. It runs counter to the media’s preferred narrative that gun control is a net benefit for society and we should enact more of it. In fact, it directly proves that’s not necessarily the case.

So, they simply pretend it didn’t happen.

Had the study found the opposite, I have little doubt it would have been heralded from the hills. We’d have been inundated with reports about what the study proved.

Instead, we get silence.

Meanwhile, this same media is absolutely baffled that trust in them is so low.


See, this is part of how media bias works. It’s not just how the stories are written/reported, but also what stories are reported. This one is, to steal from Al Gore, an inconvenient truth, so they’re hoping you’ll just forget about it.

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