APR 2000 UPDATE ON UNSAFE GUN STORAGE

rev. 8 Feb 2016

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On Mar. 31, 2000 the AP broadcast an article about a study announced by press releases the day before by both the Rand Corporation and the Am. Publ. Health Assn's Am. J. of Publ. Health.  The materials indicated that the report on the study (by Mark Schuster, et.al.) was appearing in the April 2000 issue of the journal.  Everything in the AP article was also in the press releases and an abstract from the journal, except for the obligatory few words about the reaction of the NRA.

The press releases, the journal abstract and the very comprehensive Rand abstract [also available at Rand.org]—and, consequently the AP article—repeatedly refer to study results about "storage" of firearms and ammunition and about firearms being "kept" in certain states (e.g., unlocked), implying that the firearms were ALWAYS in those states.  In these respects the journal, Rand and AP documents are all highly misleading.  The journal news release headline is "Nearly Half of Homes With Kids and Guns Leave Firearms Accessible," which would imply to most people "left unattended and accessible BY THE KIDS."

The fact is (per the Rand abstract/report) that the survey questions whose answers were analyzed by the Rand and UCLA "researchers" did not include a single one about where or how a firearm is STORED.

The questions were asked by US Census employees face-to-face with adults in their homes.  The questions were all about where firearms and ammunition were AT THE TIME, and if/how the items were secured AT THE TIME.  By definition the adult was there, with the firearms, and had not left home and left the firearms unsecured in the home so that "the chiiiildren" could gain access to them.  For all the surveyors and the researchers knew, those adults had those firearms near them at the time the questions were asked.

And where were the kids?  Probably not there with the surveyor and the adult but, even if they were, their parent could—and most probably did—know that the kids were not getting anywhere near accessing the firearm.  How many kids would be hanging around the living room or dining room with a parent while some stranger asked the parent a long list of questions?

The study truly has significance only about the states of firearms in homes with kids while an adult is also home.  It has nothing to do with storage of firearms.  "Stored" is the state of something while it is not being used.  A person with a firearm for protecting self or others can have a firearm stashed somewhere nearby while using it for that purpose, and should if the conditions under which the person lives are sufficiently hazardous.  But this is not "storage."

The deficiency of this study (and, mostly the interpretation of the results) is the same as for the preceding studies on the same topic by medical doctors trying to prove that guns are bad.  They use survey questions that ask about firearms at the moment, then misrepresent the answers as being about "storage" or about the highly ambiguous words "keep" and "kept" (which normally relate to habitual or long-term state of an item).

If one wants to know about gun owners storing firearms—leaving them unattended (outside of their control) such that others can gain access to them—the survey questions must address whether or not the person secures the firearm when it is not under the person's control.  If researchers want to obtain meaningful, honest information about firearms issues, they need to have surveys designed by people who know a lot about firearms and their uses—not by doctors who know essentially nothing about the topics.  The people most likely to have such knowledge are CRIMINOLOGISTS, people whose profession is the study of crime (including violence) and the things that contribute to it or help to reduce it.  Rely on the pros, not the amateurs.

Yet again we find that the fact that someone does a "study" doesn't mean any truth is found, and that anyone can do a study (as opposed to a valid or useful one).  AND, peer review for "scientific" journals is worthless if the peers also don't know much about the article subject.

[2016 note:  We note that the Rand organization has now given Kellerman a platform from which to spread his ignorance.  Shows how biased the Shuster team at Rand is.]

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