State-Funded Researchers Shift Aim from Gun Owners to Gun Stores

Back in 2016, Gov. Jerry Brown tucked $5 million into the budget for the Firearm Violence Research Center at the University of California, Davis. Dr. Garen Wintemute, director of the center, claimed to be “driven by data, not by a policy agenda,” and told reporters the center’s first project would be “a survey that looks at who owns guns, why they own them and how they use firearms.” Strictly speaking, who owns guns is not a matter of medical science or public health. Neither is the center’s new target, those who sell guns.

“A new UC Davis study has found that cities that experience increases in gun purchases also experience more gun-related injuries,” the Sacramento Bee reports. The study found that gun-related injuries increased by 4 percent after the spike in gun purchases, which meant approximately 290 more injuries. As study co-author Rose Kagawa concludes, “more purchases do seem to create more harm.” It also seems that such a post hoc ergo propter hoc approach does not exactly qualify as medical science.

Dr. Wintemute is a big supporter of the red-flag measures that allow police to remove guns from people making deadly threats against others or themselves. As Kate Washington notes in Sactown Magazine, Wintemute has long advocated for “gun-purchasing records” that abound in California “because of a bill Wintemute wrote and helped pass in 1998.” So no surprise that his center wants to survey those who own guns and target those businesses that sell firearms. One of those businesses came in handy back in 1997.

In North Hollywood, two bank robbers blasted away with fully automatic rifles, every one illegal. With only their 9mm pistols, police were outgunned, so they went to B&B Sales, where the owner of the gun store quickly supplied them with four 5.56mm Bushmaster XM-15 semi-automatic rifles with high-capacity magazines and two Remington shotguns with rifled slugs. The police used these legal weapons to take down the bad guys.

Meanwhile, for a different perspective on the relation of guns and crime, see this interview with John Lott, author of More Guns, Less Crime: Understanding Crime and Gun Control Laws.

K. Lloyd Billingsley is a Policy Fellow at the Independent Institute and a columnist at American Greatness.
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