Response to Critics claims in the Orlando Sentinel

Dec 27, 2021 | Response to Critics

Recently Devin Hughes and Po Murray wrote a response to an op-ed by Anthony Sabatini and John Lott in the Orlando Sentinel. Professor Carl Moody of the College of William & Mary ([email protected]) responded to their claims and asked us to post it here. We have previously written other discussions of the problems with GVPedia and Hughes’ attacks in numerous other places (e.g., The Hill, Vox, Think Progress, and Armed with Reason).

Moody’s response:

  1. Gun violence has increased in Orlando. According to the Gun Violence Archive, in the three years since Sabatini was elected, the firearm homicide death rate in his district rose 93%, even though the national rate increased by only 19% during the same time.

Does he seriously mean to say that Sabatini’s election was responsible for any increase in firearm homicide? Wouldn’t Mr. Sabatini have to have done something?  Did it rise 93% from a particularly low base (regression to mean)?

  • 2. states with permitless carry laws have seen a 5.1% increase in gun homicide rates annually, compared with a 1.2% annual increase for states without such laws. Kansas, Mississippi, and Missouri saw large surges in gun homicides after passing permitless carry.

Not true

UPDATE: Here is some additional recent work by Moody is available here.

  • 3. He misclassified at least two studies 

Which two?

and padded the results with studies that aren’t about concealed-carry laws. 

Studies that use RTC laws as control variables generate estimates of the impact of those laws and their statistical significance. If they have negative signs (reduce crime) and are significant, then the articles found that RTC laws reduce crime. If they are not significant, then RTC laws have no significant effect on crime (do no harm).

He included studies with severe errors

Says who? Errors are not only made by researchers who find RTC laws reduce murder.

relied on heavily outdated research

How does research become outdated? It is either true or not true.

and failed to include 23 national level (?) studies analyzing the impact of concealed-carry laws.

These studies are not published, let alone peer reviewed.

The truth is that out of the 65 national-level academic studies on concealed carry laws, a plurality find that weakening concealed-carry laws increases crime. Of the 35 most recent academic studies (since 2005) on this topic, 23 (66%) find that weakening concealed-carry laws increases crime. Only five studies since 2005 (14%) show a decrease in crime.

Are these studies all peer reviewed?

  • 4. History has shown that SYG has aided and abetted vigilantism rather than protecting Floridians.

A recent literature review of 25 studies examining SYG laws found that: “The existing evidence contradicts claims that expanding self-defense laws deters violent crime across the United States.” 

In fact, the review concluded, “Stand-your-ground laws were associated with no change to small increases in violent crime (total and firearm homicide, aggravated assault, robbery) on average across states.

https://ajph.aphapublications.org/doi/10.2105/AJPH.2020.306101

  • 5. The Sentinel opinion piece cites an unpublished Urban Institute study finding that SYG laws increase racial disparity in the justice system.

According to the author (p.11)

“As noted earlier, it is possible that this finding of racial disparity is not associated with any conscious or unconscious racial animus in the justice system. If the facts of white-on-black homicides differ from the facts associated with black-on-white homicides such that one routinely occurs as part of self-defense and the other as part of a street crime, then there is no animus. The data here cannot completely address this problem because the setting of the incident cannot be observed. Thus, the analysis is at risk due to omitted variable bias, where the lack of a data element leads to a spurious conclusion.”

https://www.urban.org/sites/default/files/publication/23856/412873-Race-Justifiable-Homicide-and-Stand-Your-Ground-Laws.PDF

Note from John Lott. We have previously written extensively about the Urban Institute report.

Crime Prevention Research Center, “Some notes on John Roman’s “Race, Justifiable Homicide, and Stand Your Ground Laws: Analysis of FBI Supplementary Homicide Report Data,” Urban Institute,” Crime Prevention Research Center, November 4, 2013.

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