No, study doesn't show "compelling" case for red flag laws

Glock Model 21" by Michael @ NW Lens is marked with CC BY-NC-ND 2.0 DEED.

Among the ranks of anti-gun voices, one of the more popular regulations are red flag laws. It’s not difficult to see why, nor is it difficult to see why these are a fairly easy sell to the American people.


Such laws are a blatant infringement on the people’s right to keep and bear arms, but most Americans don’t care. They like the idea of removing guns from potentially dangerous people, and red flag laws promise to do that.

The issue is that most don’t see the downside of such laws. Even if you take out the Second Amendment aspect, they also violent people’s right to due process and allow potentially dangerous people to walk around and commit dangerous acts with some other means.

Then we have the media that likes to push these measures.

Take this report of a new study, titled, “UM study: Red flag laws can prevent harm, but more research is needed.”

Except, that’s not what was found.

Properly implemented firearm injury prevention policies can play a role in preventing gun-related injuries and death, but more research is needed, according to a policy review led by the University of Michigan Institute for Firearm Injury Prevention.

The study, published online in The Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science in June, examined four types of laws that restrict access to firearms from individuals, including those considered to be at risk of harming themselves or others. These are often known as red flag laws, and place restrictions on people versus weapons. They are opposed by many Republicans and gun rights groups. Michigan passed such a law in May, following 20 other states, in response to the Feb. 13 mass shooting at Michigan State University.

The UM study cited research showing declines in firearm injury in states with such laws. But it also showed research that showed no reduction in injury in red flag states.

“It is inarguable that more research is needed on both the implementation and outcomes of these gun safety laws,” said April Zeoli, associate professor of health management and policy at U-M’s School of Public Health and policy core director at the Institute for Firearm Injury Prevention. “However, the research that we currently have is compelling.”


Frankly, there’s nothing compelling about what they found with regard to red flag laws. They didn’t really find anything, yet the headline suggests that red flag laws actually work.

That’s not what the study actually found.

The whole “more research is needed” is typical in any research study, so it doesn’t surprise me in the least. Yet the researchers in this case clearly note that existing studies on red flag laws are inconsistent at best.

What the media wants people to take away from this, though, isn’t what the study actually found.

And understand that gun research is, generally, worthless. The data is typically tortured beyond any resemblance to reality, all to find an anti-gun answer. Yet even here, this study which used previous research, couldn’t find that red flag laws work.

Yet it should be remembered that because of the flaws with previous gun control studies, a meta-analysis like this one is going to be flawed with regard to the other gun control measures.

Because of that, none of this is particularly compelling. After all, garbage in, garbage out, and all of this is garbage going in.

But the media reports trying to use this to justify red flag laws might be the worst garbage of all.



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