#3 Guns

August 4, 2016

The gun lobby says firearms keep us safe by protecting us against bad guys and reducing the crime rate. But, what does the science say? We find out how many times a year guns are used in self-defense, how many times they’re used to murder someone, and what impact guns have on the crime rate. In this episode we speak with Prof. David Hemenway, Prof. Helen Christensen, Prof. Gary Kleck and New Jersey gun-range owner Anthony Colandro.


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This episode has been produced by Caitlin Kenney, Heather Rogers and Kaitlyn Sawrey. Edited by Annie Rose Strasser and Alex Blumberg. Production Assistance by Austin Mitchell. Sound design and music production by Martin Peralta and Matthew Boll, music written by Bobby Lord

Crisis hotlines:

Selected References:

2013 US Mortality Statistics – Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (published 2016)

Gary Kleck’s defensive gun use survey
Kleck & Gertz, “Armed Resistance to Crime: The Prevalence and Nature of Self-Defense with a Gun”, Journal of Criminal Law and Criminology, 1995

Survey of virgin births in the US
Herring et al, “Like a virgin (mother): analysis of data from a longitudinal, US population representative sample survey”, BMJ, 2013

David Hemenway’s defensive gun use analysis using National Crime Victimization Survey
Hemenway & Solnick, “The epidemiology of self-defense gun use: Evidence from the National Crime Victimization Surveys 2007-2011”, Preventive Medicine, 2015

Study on means restriction in Sri Lanka
Gunnell et al, “The impact of pesticide regulations on suicide in Sri Lanka”, International Journal of Epidemiology, 2007

Analysis of suicide rates and methods in Australia
Large & Nielssen, “Suicide in Australia: meta-analysis of rates and methods of suicide between 1988 and 2007”, The Medical Journal of Australia, 2010

John Lott’s study on right-to-carry laws and crime rates
Lott & Mustard, “Crime, Deterrence, and Right-to-Carry Concealed Handguns”, Coase-Sandor Institute for Law & Economics, 1996

National Research Academies Panel which found guns don’t increase or decrease crime
Wellford, Pepper, and Petrie, editors, “Firearms and Violence: A Critical Review”, The National Academies Press, 2005

US Crime statistics, 1990-2009 (US Dept of Justice, FBI)

A strong association found between state-wide gun ownership and homicide of women
Siegel and Rothman, “Firearm Ownership and the Murder of Women in the United States: Evidence That the State-Level Firearm Ownership Rate Is Associated with the Nonstranger Femicide Rate” Violence and Gender, 2016

Study on the Southern Sand Octopus
Montana et al, “Liquid sand burrowing and mucus utilisation as novel adaptations to a structurally-simple environment in Octopus kaurna Stranks, 1990”, Behaviour, 2015


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