Edgar Suter wrote:
From an early DRAFT of Gary Kleck’s TARGETING GUNS : FIREARMS AND THEIR CONTROL
scheduled to be published this month:
The Medical/Public Health Literature on Guns and Violence
False Citation of Prior Research
In a 1992 article [Kellermann AL, Rivara FP, Somes G, et al. Suicide
in the home in relationship to Gun Ownership. N Engl J Med. 1992;
327: 467-72.], he and his coauthors claimed that “limiting access to
firearms could prevent many suicides” (p. 467), citing in support a
study (Rich et al. 1990) that had drawn precisely the opposite
conclusion. – Rich and his colleagues had summarized the findings of
their two studies as-indicating that “gun control legislation may
have led to decreased use of guns by suicidal men, but the
difference was apparently offset by an increase in suicide by
leaping. In the case of men using guns for suicide, these data
support a hypothesis of substitution of suicide method” (p. 342).
Hooray! Kleck scores a point! Yes, Kellerman erroneously included
this article in their list of supportive studies when it should have
been in their list of non-supportive studies. Kleck’s score: 1 out of
In that same article, Kellermann and his colleagues cited an
impressive list of six studies (their cites 1015, p. 467) that they
claimed had “studied variations in the rates of gun ownership and
suicide” across different areas or over time. Of these six, four did
not measure gun ownership at all, and thus could not have studied
variations in gun ownership (their cites 10, 12, 14, 15),
This is just silly. Cite 15, for example, is Loftin’s study on the DC
gun ban. Does Kleck really believe that it didn’t stop the most
law-abiding DC residents from acquiring guns?
while one other studied “variation” across just two cities, using
measures of gun ownership that turned out to be invalid (their cite
Their cite 13 is the same article as Kleck’s cite “Sloan et al. 1990”
in the next paragraph which Klecks says “actually measured the
association between gun ownership and suicide rates”. Is it invalid
or isn’t it?
Perhaps it was just coincidence that these falsely cited studies
generally drew conclusions supportive of gun control, while the many
studies that were relevant (having actually measured the association
between gun ownership and suicide rates) but that were not cited,
overwhelmingly indicated no significant association between gun
levels and total suicide rates (Lester 1987; 1988a; 1988c; 1989b;
Clarke and Jones 1989; Lester 1990; Sloan et al. 1990; PB:255256,
268; Killias 1993b; two dissenting studies were Lester 1989b; Moyer
and Carrington 1992).
No, it is not coincidence that Kellermann, in an article published
in 1992, did not cite an article published by Killias in 1993.
Possibly it’s because Kellermann does not have a time-travel machine.
In any case, Killias in fact found a significant association
between gun levels and total suicide rates — exactly the opposite of
what Kleck claimed. Yes, that’s right, Kleck has done exactly the
thing he has accused Kellermann of.
Most of the remaining studies that “overwhelmingly indicated no
significant association” were by Lester or Clarke. Lester and
Clarke’s summary of what these studies found is a bit different from
Kleck’s: “To summmarize,two studies of firearms suggest that increased
availability of guns creates additional suicides, two do not, and the
third suggests that some but not complete displacement occurs.” Once
again we see Kleck counting as “no association” studies that the
authors do not.