Latest study purporting to show the Nevada gun shows are hugely responsible for the increase in the firearm-related deaths and injuries in nearby California and it was criticized as “poorly done” on Tuesday.
The University of California at Berkeley study, funded in part with money from a $2.3 million National Institutes of Health grant and it was released on Monday. It was found that a 70 percent spike in deaths and injuries from firearms in California communities within one- to two-hour driving distances of Nevada gun shows.
The researchers went on comparing the number of gun-related deaths and injuries occurring two weeks before the gun shows to the number that had happened in the two weeks afterwards. The study also found no spikes in gun-related deaths or injuries following the gun shows in California and concluded that the difference “may be due to California’s stricter firearm regulations” including a background check and a further 10-day waiting period.
“Our study suggests that California’s strict regulations—on firearms, generally, and on gun shows, specifically—may be effective in preventing short-term increases in firearm deaths and injuries following gun shows,” the study’s lead author, Ellicott Matthay who is a Ph.D. student at the University of California, Berkeley’s School of Public Health, stated in his statement released along the study.
The study did not, however, took note of the legal hurdles involved with a California resident purchasing a firearm in the state of Nevada or any other state. Federal laws only allow Americans to buy guns outside their home states if they are purchasing a rifle or shotgun from a federally licensed firearms dealer.
Those dealers must also conduct a background check on the customers and are limited to sales allowed only by the purchaser’s home state.
Sales of the handguns by the licensed dealers and sales of any firearms by any of these private sellers can only be done legally if the firearm is transferred through a licensed dealer in the purchaser’s home state where the sale could be subjected to the laws of that particular state. Because of the federal rules, all legal firearm purchases a California resident makes at a Nevada gun show would still be a subject in some form to California’s gun owning and carrying laws.
“Generally, a person may only acquire a firearm within the person’s own State,” as per the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives guide on the interstate firearms purchase. “Exceptions include the acquisition pursuant to a lawful bequest, or an over-the-counter acquisition of a rifle or shotgun from a licensee where the transaction is allowed by the purchaser’s state of residence and the licensee’s state of business.”
John Lott, the president of the Crime Prevention Research Center and author of ‘More Guns, Less Crime’, said that flaws in the study’s approach are enough to invalidate the study’s findings.
“It’s poorly done research,” he said. “It’s one thing to spend money on research, it’s another to spend it on this type of thing with so many parts of it that just don’t make sense.”
Lott also said that he never understood how it was possible to conduct a study which evaluates a two-week before-and-after period. Las Vegas and Reno are where the vast majority of the gun shows occur, and they take place nearly every weekend.