Dueling Statistics: The Debate Over Gun Control is Often a War of Statistics

Document Type



Published in the Forum for Applied Research and Public Policy by the University of Tennessee's Energy, Environment and Resources Center and the Tennessee Valley Authority, volume 15 issue 4, winter 2000. Pg 68-75. Users may access this article here.

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Forum for Applied Research and Public Policy


Research and public debate on gun control are quagmires into which the average academic, public policymaker, and citizen should be wary of diving. Indeed, every single entry point into the issue represents a morass so difficult to navigate that making an informed decision whether to support or oppose control of firearms could be a full-time job. The central issue is whether there is a causal link between the prevalence of gun ownership and the level of gun violence. There is already a significant amount of data familiar to researchers, policymakers, and writers in the field. But few policymakers and concerned citizens have in-depth knowledge about it, and both sides in the debate are adept at using statistics to their advantage. Even to the initiated, the data point to no clear and easy answers.