A suggestion for DOJ, Trump administration: Use gun research responsibly

Recently, Guns.com reported on a US Department of Justice press release following a panel discussion regarding a domestic violence study. The press release makes the familiar call for decreasing access to firearms through better use of background checks. But a deeper look reveals a glossing-over of issues that have more statistical backing in favor of gun control—a pattern that’s become a habit under the current administration, and one that should be curtailed if Donald Trump is serious about backing up his statements in support of gun ownership.

Looking beyond the press release, the actual study offers one example of the DOJ’s eagerness to jump to gun-related conclusions, promoting fixes that aren’t entirely substantiated by the research, making recommendations for the entire country when the population in the study was narrowly defined, and, most importantly, omitting important information that saves lives, but doesn’t fit their agenda.

The study did define “femicide” as the killing of a female intimate partner, and provides numbers to support the assumption that these were indeed acts of murder and not inclusive of justified homicides, a common fault when reviewing data interpreted by gun control proponents. While the DOJ report used the more digestible but commonly misused “homicide,” the study defined the deaths as well as the data allowed.

The 220 deaths that formed the group of subjects occurred in 11 urban centers. Black victims represented 47.3 percent of the deaths; white and Hispanic women each comprised 24.1 percent. The rest were other races. Here are the first examples of one size not fitting all—the DOJ is calling for more severe background checks based only on urban, and largely black, populations.

“Access to a gun” was one of the weaker associations in risk of being murdered by one’s partner. The biggest risks for murder were previous physical abuse, unemployment, and illicit drug use. These conclusions were broad enough as to have been generalizable across the lives observed. These are issues that social justice warriors write off as “unactionable” in order to pursue the lower-hanging fruit of gun control.

Protective factors against getting killed by a lover are just as important as risk factors. In this study, strong protective factors included the abusive partner having higher education, even if he’s unemployed, never having lived under the same roof with their partner, and—remember this, it’s science—the endangered partner having sole access to a gun. None of these protections are included in recommendations by both the scientists and DOJ, but reducing access to guns is front and center.

As is usually the case with public health research, there is little in these conclusions that should surprise anyone, with an exception I’ll leave for enterprising readers to find. Both the scientists and DOJ write their conclusions to the tune of a song we’ve heard before—guns showed up in the discussion, so let’s eradicate them. That such obviously intelligent minds should repeatedly jump to the same, simple-minded conclusion after every study on violence belies their agenda.

If our new President is to make a difference for gun owners and those who experience domestic violence, his agenda should include making public health and safety initiatives actually match the science, not the agenda. It just might save lives.

The views and opinions expressed in this post are those of the author’s and do not necessarily reflect the position of Guns.com.