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Musings About the Media and Gun Violence. HF Guggenhein Symposium Crime in America John Jay Panel David Hemenway , February 1, 2011. Summary of Academic Literature on Guns. U.S. Public woefully misinformed about most things including guns and violence.

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Musings about the media and gun violence l.jpg

Musings About the Media and Gun Violence

HF Guggenhein Symposium

Crime in America

John Jay Panel

David Hemenway, February 1, 2011



U s public woefully misinformed about most things including guns and violence l.jpg
U.S. Public woefully misinformed about most things including guns and violence

  • Most information comes from schools and media


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Raised in 1950s guns and violence

Ozzie and Harriet

Leave It To Beaver


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Naïve Ideal World: guns and violence

  • Media conducts surveys about what public knows

  • Act together to improve public knowledge


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Media’s Role guns and violence

  • Media does not provide an epidemiologically correct view of world

  • 300+ million Americans

  • 6+ billion people


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Misperceptions Matter: guns and violence

  • (e.g. self-fulfilling prophesies)

  • If people think neighborhood unsafe, no one goes there, businesses languish, etc.

  • Adolescents misperceptions about adolescent smoking, binge drinking, sex, and gun carrying


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Misperceptions Matter (cont.) guns and violence

  • Most Americans seem to believe we have licensing and registration laws

  • Given level of gun violence, these laws clearly not working

NO SUCH LAWS EXIST


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Media Can Change Attitudes guns and violence

  • Designated Driver Campaign

  • Motor Vehicle Crash Stories

    • Wear seat belts

    • Alcohol involved

  • Gun Stories

    • Where did the gun come from?

    • What kind of world do we want to live in?


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My Own Pet Peeves at Media guns and violence

  • Parochialism

    • No one outside the US can understand US

    • Winning gun control argument outside US

      • “Do you want to end up like the US?”

    • Don’t understand what an outlier the US really is

      • Plus role in fueling gun violence worldwide


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Homicide, Suicide, and Unintentional Gun Deaths among 5-14 year olds: The United States vs. 25 Other High Income Populous Countries, early 2003

Yet U.S. has average rates of all other crime victims

Richardson & Hemenway J Trauma 2011


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My Pet Peeves year olds:

2. Simplistic view of the world: Black/White

a.) pro gun vs. anti-gun

Pro public health not: anti-car

anti-swimming pool

anti-stairs

a1.) gun rights advocates vs. …?


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My Pet Peeves year olds:

2. Simplistic view of the world: Black/White (cont.)

b.) Guns everywhere vs. No guns

“Gun Control” equals banning handguns

Policy Spectrum


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My Pet Peeves year olds:

2. Simplistic view of the world: Black/White (cont.)

c.) Criminals and Decent, Law-Abiding Citizens

“Bad Guys” and “Good Guys”

In Arizona, a “good guy” with legal and easy access to all firearms

He would not have gotten access in other countries.


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E.g. Canada Law year olds:

Acquisition of a Handgun

  • Firearms License

  • Proof of legitimate purpose

  • Criminal background check

  • Training certificate

  • 2 references who sign application

  • 28 day waiting period

  • Handgun magazine restricted to 10 rounds


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My Pet Peeves year olds:

2. Simplistic view of the world: Black/White (cont.)

d.) Guns are only thing that matters, or guns don’t matter at all

  • Urban-rural

  • Switzerland, Israel

  • Canada- Bowling for Columbine


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My Pet Peeves year olds:

2. Simplistic view of the world: Black/White (cont.)

e.) Gun control works perfectly or doesn’t work at all

“Germany had a school shooting, doesn’t that prove gun control is ineffective?”


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My Pet Peeves year olds:

3. Argument by Anecdote

  • Washington, DC

  • “My father never smoked, yet died of heart disease”

  • “Japanese smoke more than US, yet have lower rates of heart disease”


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Anecdotes vs. Studies year olds:

Violent Deaths High-gun States vs. Low-gun States, 2001-2004, U.S. Children (aged 5-14)

The 15 States with the highest average levels of household gun ownership (based on the 2001 Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System) were WY, MT, AK, SD, AR, WV, AL, ID, MS, ND, KY, WI, SC, UT, and LA. The 6 States with the lowest average gun levels were HI, MA, RI, NJ, CT, and NY.

Source: WISQARS


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My Pet Peeves year olds:

4. “Both Sides”

20 studies vs. 1 study

Science vs. she said/he said




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What we are currently doing: year olds:

  • Firearms Research Digest:

    • A searchable database of summaries of all academic firearm articles

    • www. firearmsresearch.org


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What we are currently doing: year olds:

2. Bulletins

  • Comparing the Incidence of Self-Defense Gun Use and Criminal Gun Use

  • Carrying Concealed Weapons (CCW) Laws:

    From “May Issue” to “Shall Issue”



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“While We Were Sleeping” year olds:Success Stories in Injury PreventionU Cal Press (2009)

David Hemenway, PhD.

Harvard Injury Control Research Center

Harvard School of Public Health


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Importance of Firearms Trace Data year olds:

  • Many gun policies focus on preventing the diversion of guns from the legal to illegal markets.

  • Trace data allow monitoring of these diversions. Brief interval (e.g., < 1 year) from retail sale to crime by non-purchaser is marker for illegal diversion.

  • Report of crime gun trace data showing Milwaukee gun dealer’s contribution to crime guns led dealer to stop selling junk guns. Diversions dropped 73% (Webster, Vernick, Bulzacchelli, 2006).

  • Trace data used to identify gun dealers to target for undercover stings and lawsuits which were followed by sharp reductions in guns diverted to criminals (Webster, Vernick, Bulzacchelli, Zeoli 2006).


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Importance of Firearms Trace Data year olds:

  • Trafficking indicators negatively associated with state policies regulating private sales and oversight of retail sellers (Webster, Vernick, Bulzacchelli, 2009)

  • States with comprehensive gun sales regulations have very few in-state guns used in crime (Webster, Vernick, Hepburn, 2001).

  • Absence of gun seller accountability policies associated with greater exporting of crime guns to other states (Mayors Against Illegal Guns, 2010).

  • If trace data wasn’t important to industry accountability, the gun lobby wouldn’t have made hiding gun data a priority in passing the Tiahrt amendments.


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