Bangor Daily News Looks at Research Surrounding Gun Control Proposals

AP Photo/Alan Diaz, File

Gun research has its problems, to say the least. That's why it's so frustrating that people routinely try to cite it as if it's unbiased and is simply about presenting the facts.


The truth is that no one on this side trusts it.

Which makes the findings that suggest gun control doesn't work even more remarkable to pro-gun voices.

That's going to play a factor in Maine, where the fighting over guns is set to be fierce and where there's a strong likelihood of a fairly pro-gun state going deep down the anti-gun rabbit hole this year.

It seems a local news outlet decide to look at the research and little of it is supportive of what Democrats are pushing for.

Sens. Peggy Rotundo, D-Lewiston, and Anne Carney, D-Cape Elizabeth, put forward bills to require 72-hour waiting periods for gun purchases and ban the sale of bump stocks or other devices attached to semi-automatic rifles that make them fire rapidly like machine guns. Similar proposals have failed in prior sessions.

Waiting periods are often intended to reduce suicides, violence and mass shootings by giving time for distraught buyers to “cool off” or for police to investigate illicit “straw” purchases and finish background checks that cannot be completed within the federal three-day window.

Studies have found inconclusive evidence on whether waiting periods can reduce mass shootings, often defined as having four or more fatalities not including the shooter, per the RAND Corp.

But a volume of research has found waiting periods can reduce firearm suicides, including a study examining data from 1977 to 2014 that found a significant effect on reducing gun suicides. Research has also pointed to moderate evidence on waiting periods leading to drops in total homicides but more limited evidence on reducing firearm homicides.

Studies have suggested waiting periods of between two to seven days can lower intimate partner gun homicide rates. Gun-rights advocates have argued waiting periods could delay a domestic violence victim in getting self-protection, but little empirical evidence for that exists.


Now, we've addressed the waiting periods impact on suicides already. The truth is that the intimate partner homicide claims suffers from the same problem: They only look at homicides committed with a gun. If a man murders his wife with a hammer instead of a gun, is that somehow better?

I wouldn't think so and I'm pretty sure no one else really would, either.

But it's worth noting that they did find that the research isn't really supportive of these measures stopping mass shootings, which is why they're being pushed here and now.

They also note that there's almost no research on bump stocks being used in mass murders. That's because there's a sample size of one, the Route 91 shooting in Las Vegas. There's really not a ton of other massacres committed with the devices.

Moreover, it should be remembered that while bump stocks are a device, they simply facilitate bump firing, which is a process that doesn't need a specially-designed stock. People have used rubber bands and belt loops to help them just as easily, and so while RAND Corp. behavioral scientist Andrew Morral argues, "[S]ince some attackers appear to want to maximize casualties by maintaining a high rate of fire, it seems likely that bump stocks would be attractive to them," he's missing that they never needed them and bump fire is still rare in such shootings.


So the research for what Democrats in Maine are proposing is scant, at best, and even when it exists, it's not for what the measure is being billed for, and yet do you think that's going to stop them?


Because to Democrats, one should believe the science, but only when it's the science Democrats agree with.

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