Shooter Ready

The Way of the Gun

Category: Resources

Jerking the trigger: a sight alignment and sight picture problem

I have a problem with how we as shooters, and how firearms instructors, teach the fundamentals of marksmanship to new shooters. Specifically, I have a problem with how instructors stress sight alignment and sight picture, without reconciling these two core fundamentals with trigger control. This issue is compounded exponentially when it comes to pistol marksmanship.

It happens all the time. You’re on the firing line at the local pistol range and someone lands a shot low and left, or maybe just wildly off target. Their shooting buddy looks over their shoulder and says “you jerked the trigger” or “you yanked the trigger” or some variation of the phrase. So you see the trigger jerker reset, try to relax, breathe a little, and rock on.

What we don’t seem to think about is the relationship between these three core fundamentals, and I attribute this to how we teach them to new shooters. There is a relationship between jerking the trigger, and sight alignment and sight picture.

Think about it. When a new shooter is taken up to the firing line one of the key talking points drilled into them by their instructor is the correct sight alignment and sight picture. The front sight must be clear, with the top of the front sight post level with the top of the rear sight, and equal light on either side of the front sight. The perfect, ideal sight picture. The sight picture a new shooter hardly ever sees.

The perfect sight picture that new shooters hardly ever see.

The human body is an amazing piece of biology, but we aren’t machines. Holding an object out at arms length perfectly level and still for some period of time is not humanly possible. There will always be some wiggle, some wobble, some amount of movement that can be seen by the naked eye.

This is the first pitfall of stressing perfect sight alignment and sight picture: it simply does not occur very often due to the biological nature of our body.

The second pitfall is how trigger control is taught to new shooters, or rather, the lack of teaching trigger control to new shooters. “Pull the trigger smoothly and straight to the rear”, “keep pulling till the trigger breaks”, “let the trigger/gun surprise you” or some variation of these phrases, dominates the firearms structor lexicon. None of these phrases is worth a damn to new shooters, and letting the trigger/gun surprise you is just plain foolish. What movement of the trigger finger constitutes a smooth movement? What kind of trigger finger placement should the shooter use? Can or should they pull using the first distal joint only? Can/should the knuckle joint be involved? Can a trigger be pulled straight to the rear? All these questions, and more! The trouble is, these questions are rarely asked, and a lot of instructors I’ve seen on the firing line don’t make mention of these factors.

This creates an unfortunate situation where a new shooter is overwhelmed by the need to consciously maintain the correct sight alignment and sight picture, while manipulating a trigger with a finger that has, heretofore, rarely moved in the biomechanical pattern required to operate a pistol trigger. Like it or not, the mind-muscle connection takes a lengthy period of time to manifest. This typically results in a new shooter rushing to get onto the trigger as soon as the perfect sight alignment and sight picture is obtained, and lo and behold, the shot lands low and left, or just wildly off target. The instructor/shooting buddy remarks “you jerked the trigger”, without breaking down the potential reasons why. The shooter resets, not knowing any better, and the cycle continues.

The relationship between sight alignment, sight picture, and jerking the trigger therefore is simple. Stressing sight alignment and sight picture, while stressing the need for good trigger control without explaining what that actually means, is simply setting a new shooter up for failure. For new shooters reading this: accept the fact that you won’t have the perfect sight alignment and sight picture all the time. In fact you’ll only have it some of the time, at best. Most of the time that front sight will be wobbling around slightly. Don’t worry too much about it. Don’t focus so much on the front sight that you forget to exercise good trigger control. The sights aren’t going anywhere. They won’t mysteriously and spontaneously drift so far off target that paying less attention to the sights and more attention “perfect” trigger pull will result in a miss. The body might not be a machine, but its pretty damn good at keeping still. Focus on your trigger pull instead. It will pay dividends. I’ll talk about trigger control in another post.

As Gun-fu Jedi Master Mike Pannone from CTT Solutions in the USA puts it: “shoot the sights”. When the sights are on target, in the correct alignment, you must decide on your acceptable level of accuracy and balance that with speed and trigger control. And whatever you do, do not let that trigger surprise you, but that’s another topic for another post.

And for anyone out there suspecting it, yes, I am. Just a little.

Obligatory meme. For all the new age internet people.

Stay sharp, stay safe.

JC

Literature Review – PAM and the NFA: 20 years on, what are the lessons?

Article in full:

https://www.mja.com.au/system/files/issues/204_10/10.5694mja16.00293.pdf

Any literature review of anti-gun publications, especially opinion pieces laden with throw away figures and singular data points, is always difficult. They aren’t difficult because they’re hard to refute or review, but because I never know where to start.

The relationship between psychosis or serious mental illness is well researched, and the findings are clear. Mentally ill individuals are at greater risk of both perpetrating and being the target of violence, however, they account for a small percentage of overall violence. How this relates to the gun control debate is a difficult and complex issue that bears close examination and candid discussion.

I find it objectionable, almost negligent, on the part of The Medical Journal of Australia to publish what is essentially an opinion piece masquerading as serious research. Never mind that the most recent Chapman et al. paper offers a more well rounded, and objective overview of the relative efficacy of the NFA in reducing firearms homicide and suicide, the paper in question refutes key arguments put forth by Dudley et al., in their MJA op ed. I adamantly refuse to accept this as a peer reviewed journal article, for the simple fact that it is self contradictory, sensationalised, poorly referenced, and obviously cherry picks singular data points, to force the data to fit the theory.

Lets start with the poorly interpreted statistical data regarding the significant link between mental illness and community violence. The risk of violence is higher for individuals suffering mental illnesses across the board, and mentally ill individuals are especially at risk of being the victim of violence. Rather than regurgitate the PAR (Population-Attributable Risk) percentages, I want to focus on the interpretation of this data. Despite knowing the figures regarding perpetration and victimisation rates, Dudley et al. inexplicably provide us with the numbers, state that 95% of gun homicides are perpetrated by individuals without mental illnesses, and then segue into making statements regarding the correlation between gun availability in the US and an increase in firearm homicide.

Hang on, back up a little. The editorial referenced for the 95% statement actually cites a study by Fazel and Grann, and is based on Swedish, not US data. The exact quote from the editorial is: “the authors find that persons with psychosis are about four times more likely than the general population to be convicted of a violent crime but that psychotic group accounts for just 5% of such offenses.” The editorial referenced by Dudley et al. doesn’t state that 95% of gun homicides are perpetrated by people without psychosis. It states that 5% of violent crime is perpetrated by psychotic individuals. The devil is in the details, and the details reveal Dudley et al., are making false statements.

Coming back to the claimed relative increase in gun homicide as gun ownership rate increases – the jury is still out on that one. There is no conclusive meta-data analysis that can show positive causation between increased gun ownership and increased gun homicide. The raw data does not support this supposition. Furthermore, one of the more comprehensive and objective reviews on gun ownership and gun crime/homicide, published by the Pew Research Centre, shows that gun homicide is at an all time low in the US, a full 49% reduction from the 1993 peak in gun violence. So much for the anti-gun lobby flights of fancy, where the streets of Texas have hourly re-enactments of the Gunfight at the OK Corral.

The authors’ focus on mental illness and mass shootings is distinctly myopic, a quality that characterises much of the anti-gun literature. Gun control advocates refuse to recognise that mass shootings account for, on average, a measly 0.03-0.04% of gun homicides in the US (using CDC and FBI data), or focus on the larger issue of gun violence among social groups at risk. For example, in the US, blacks account for between 53-55% of gun homicide victims, despite accounting for only 13% of the total population. We see once again that the anti-gun lobby isn’t very interested in addressing the big problems that gives the greatest cause for concern, but are focused on sensationalising specific, singular data points, to drum up support for their agendas. Where is the discussion on the disproportionate victimisation rates of blacks and Hispanics? Where is the discussion on possible correlations between socio-economically at-risk groups and disproportionate victimisation rates?

So 20 years later, what are the lessons to be learned from the implementation of the NFA?

Well, depending on who you ask, either the NFA worked, or it didn’t.

Interestingly, those who claim it did relied on statistical modelling that favoured their hypothesis, in order to make their claims. Or worse yet, conclusions drawn by anti-gun publications contradict the statistical evidenceMore objective approaches conclude that the NFA did SFA. More importantly, even rabidly anti-gun scholars like Chapman have had to about face on their previous claims, as evidenced in their latest research publications.

So that brings us back to this opinion piece published by MJA. What a shame, that an Australian medical journal would publish such tripe, and even put a little provenance disclaimer in the fine print, claiming the piece was externally peer reviewed. I don’t know of any sociologist who values their professionalism, who would allow such a poorly researched opinion piece pass peer review.

Perhaps most vexing is the fact that the authors have no issue making projections, for instance, claiming that persons with possible mental illnesses, interpersonal and personality issues, having easy, legal access to guns is lethal, resulting in avoidable excesses of both domestic and mass killings. Hold on, a few paragraphs ago the authors claimed that “95%” of gun homicides were perpetrated by perfectly sane people. So which is it? Mentally ill people having access to guns will create unavoidable excesses in domestic and mass killings, or mentally ill people play a very small role in gun homicides in general? You can’t have it both ways. And then there is the hypocritical about face, claiming that pro-gun proponents discussing the availability of guns to mentally ill people, is a calculated appeal to prejudice. This whole opinion piece is quite literally, a dog’s breakfast.

Red herrings and false equivalences are no match for empirical knowledge. I haven’t even really started to do a proper literature review on this latest publication, and I feel it is unnecessary. It is patently obvious that the article makes use of singular data points to peddle an agenda. Moreover, referencing several flawed studies (Chapman et al., 2006 and Leigh and Neill, 2010) as evidence only goes to show that there is a distinct lack of academic credibility within the anti-gun academic circle. The crux of the matter at hand is that the latest opinion piece written by our friends in the gun control lobby is simply pure opinion flimsily supported by a façade of factual evidence.

Knowledge is power.

JC

Tactical Medicine: The Missing link

The shooting community likes to talk about itself as comprised of responsible citizens, and this is largely true. As shooters we have all undergone background checks, we have passed safety tests, we have met all the requirements and checks and balances put in place. As a highly selective group, we like to see ourselves as better prepared than the average citizen, in most aspects. By and large, we are, however one of these aspects largely overlooked is pre-hospital medical care and training.

In this day and age, responsible citizens are the true first responders to events and incidences, in which lives are potentially at stake. Fantasies of heroically responding to a mass shooting aside, we’ve all seen some kind of traumatic event, whether it is motor vehicle accidents, industrial equipment accidents, falls that result in broken bones sticking through the skin, children putting themselves through plate glass at high velocity, and so on, and so on. It behooves us to be better than the average Joe in the application of tactical medicine. Sadly, few of us are properly qualified, even in basic first aid. This is a critical missing link, and should be rectified at the first available opportunity.

Many shooters play Devils Advocate and ask if a trauma course for shooters is really necessary? Isn’t basic first aid good enough? Our sport involves inherent risks. The possibility of a high velocity bit of lead and copper punching through flesh rather than paper, is a reality that we should be prepared for. Basic first aid will not train you to the level at which you can respond to a major haemorrhage or penetrating chest wound. For anyone sitting behind their computer screen saying “but if you follow the four firearms safety rules you’ll hardly ever be at risk”: true, but anyone who says they have never had a negligent discharge, or have never been in the vicinity of one, is lying.

 

Tacmed Basic Trauma Course

Basic emergency medical training should be a skill in which as many shooters as possible are well versed. It should cover the spectrum of basic lifesaving skills, including gunshot and penetrating injuries. Tacmed Australia recognized this missing link, and is now offering courses for shooters and hunters in basic trauma management.

Tacmed’s basic trauma course covers the treatment of major haemorrhages, and penetrating chest injuries. The basic premise of the course is to prepare shooters and hunters to combat the two leading causes of death from gunshot and penetrating wounds: major blood loss, and tension pneumothorax. Major blood loss is pretty simple: you bleed out, go into shock, fall unconscious, and die. Tension pneumothorax is where a penetrating chest injury results in air from the atmosphere entering the chest cavity, and air pressure inside the chest cavity gradually increases as the trapped air cannot escape. This creates a great deal of pressure on the heart and lungs, and eventually, the heart will be unable to beat, and the patient will die.

Tension pneumothorax can be lethal if left unchecked. Chest seals either vented or unvented are the ideal pre-hospital tool to employ for basic trauma management.

So how quickly can you die from blood loss? Very quickly. Assuming the patient is an average male with normal haemoglobin concentration and a normal VO2 max (a measurement of the amount of oxygen the body is able to utilize in one minute) prior to being wounded, that the artery is severed, and that there is no compression on the severed artery, any major arterial bleed will result in death in 2-60 minutes. A life threatening reduction in blood pressure due to major haemorrhage will result in shock, which greatly reduces the body’s capacity to respond, and rapidly leads to unconsciousness. The average response time for paramedics in Australia is between 10-15min. In that amount of time, a person suffering from major arterial bleeding isn’t likely to survive, even if they are rushed to hospital via intensive care paramedics.

Here’s an example of a femoral artery bleed out:

*WARNING GRAPHIC*

The man is unconscious within 90 seconds, and in the absence of proper medical attention he will be dead shortly thereafter.

Here’s another one:

*WARNING GRAPHIC*

I can’t find the full length video anymore, but, in the full length video the victim is goes into shock in about 60 seconds, is conscious for around 2 minutes, falls unconscious within 3, and death follows shortly thereafter.

Tacmed’s basic trauma course arms shooters and hunters with the knowledge they need to save someone’s life, or their own life. Recognising when to use a tourniquet, how to use a tourniquet, and how to use a chest seal for penetrating thoracic injuries, is vital to tactical medicine. Students are taught how to burp a penetrating chest wound, in the event that tension pneumothorax occurs. Likewise, wound packing is a vital component to casualty care, and Tacmed covers the essentials of wound packing technique and execution. Most importantly, Tacmed gives students the opportunity to practice hands on applications of theoretical skills.

IMG_2349

Mick from Tacmed teaching students how to correctly apply a tourniquet to a dummy.

Despite my reservations about calling things “tactical”, tactical medicine is in fact tactical. It is the capability to use a skillset and tools beyond the basic parameters of their function, in austere environments, extracting maximum performance under duress. It is one of the most critical and noble life skills I can think of.

IMG_2345

Training in the proper use of chest seals.

And before you ask, no, a first aid kit won’t do the trick. No, a tampon is not suitable for packing a wound. A tampon can be used to stop small bleeds that occur in two places: the nose, and not the nose. It does not belong anywhere near a gunshot wound, or major trauma. The old standbys of gaffer tape, garbage bags, and a t-shirt, are less effective and don’t always work (try sticking gaffer tape to clammy, sweaty skin, and get it to hold properly, it won’t happen).

IMG_2352

Learning how to pack wounds and stem the blood flow.

At the end of the day, it’s a life skill that empowers you, in ways others can only dream of. One of the worst feelings in the world is to be at the scene of a traumatic event and not know what to do. As shooters we pride ourselves on being citizens of a higher calibre, and it behooves us to be exactly that. Get trained guys, I can’t stress this enough. Your life, the life of a loved one, and the life of a total stranger in need, is worth more than the $89.95 a Tacmed Immediate Trauma Kit will cost you. While you’re at it, check out Tacmed’s IFAKs and other kits.

IMG_2359

Man down! Simulating a multiple gunshot wound victim with arterial bleeding in both the arm and leg, and possible penetrating chest injury.

Mad kudos to Tacmed Australia for seeing a knowledge gap that needed to be filled. Get trained guys, and fix the missing link.

Stay sharp, stay safe.

JC

Mil or MOA?

Mil vs MOA: Much of a Muchness

It’s 0500, I’ve just knocked off work and Mark from Tactical Optics SA calls me on my way home. Who the hell calls someone else at 0500 with serious technical questions? I’m not complaining though, it keeps me awake on the drive home.

Mark drops a loaded question: what do I use, Mil or MOA, and why?

Mil or MOA is one of those questions that gets everyone’s knickers in a knot, and divides shooters like Moses parting the Red Sea. It’s a polarising question, and understandably so. We are all comfortable with what we know, and change is unwelcome.

Mil became popular in the early to mid 2000s with tactical/precision shooters, due in no small part their exposure to the growing popularity of Mil scopes within the military. In truth, the US Marine Corps were using Mils way back in the 70s, but civilian shooters really didn’t pick up on it till much later. There was a fair bit of “Mil guys are just wannabe snipers” going around. The fact of the matter is, Mil and MOA are just different ways of skinning the same cat, and while Mil is certainly more popular among military and tactical/precision rifle competitors, it doesn’t mean it is the better system.

Do you even snipe, bro?

Here are the basics. Mil is short for milliradian, which is an angular measurement. An angle of 1 radian is the angle where the length of an arc is equal to the radius of the circle. A milliradian is therefore one thousandth of a radian.

MOA is the acronym for Minute of Arc. Shooters tend to refer to it as Minute Of Angle. A MOA is an angular measurement that corresponds to one sixtieth of a degree.

So Mil and MOA are both angular measurements, what’s the big deal? Most shooters will qualify the “Mil or MOA?” question with “what are you more familiar with? Imperial or Metric measurements?” From here on out it devolves to “MOA is Imperial and Mil is Metric” or some variation of this tired old myth.

Mil and MOA have nothing to do with the Metric or Imperial system of measurement, period. Mil and MOA are angular measurements that can be applied to any unit of measurement. It just so happens that Mil works perfectly with Metric and MOA works close enough with Imperial. Using the Imperial system, one MOA is 1.047 inches at 100 yards. One MOA is 10.47 inches at 1000 yards. Using the Metric system, one Mil is one centimeter at 100 meters. One Mil is one meter at 1000 meters. The Metric system is a better fit for Mil than Imperial, as it is base 10, whereas the Imperial system is a “close enough” fit for MOA. Its no wonder people tend to think of Mil and MOA as Metric and Imperial, the reality is, they are not.

So which one should you use? The first question to ask is “what kind of shooting are you doing with this scope?”, followed by “will the distances be set and known?”, followed by “how precise do your scope adjustments have to be?”, and finally “will you be shooting under stress?”. For shooters who are target shooting on a square range with no stress factors such as time limitations and/or improvised positions, at known distance targets, who want as precise scope adjustments as possible, then MOA is the way to go. For shooters who are on a two way range and receive return fire whilst engaging targets at an unknown distance, under a great deal of stress, and time is a significant factor, then Mil is the way to go. Ok so that doesn’t exactly describe the average sporting shooter, but military snipers use Mil because it is faster and more intuitive, especially under stress. More realistically, for shooters competing in Precision Rifle Series type events, where a lot of shooting is done in improvised positions, the targets are of potentially unknown sizes, at unknown or awkward distances, where fast follow up shots are required, and speed trumps absolute precision, then Mil is the way to go.

The NF MOAR-T reticle is a good example of a modern MOA reticle. Each large hash mark is 2 MOA. There are 1 MOA subtensions on both the vertical and horizontal crosshairs.

A lot of MOA shooters will disagree with me when I say MOA is slower to use and less intuitive, but hear me out and you might change your mind. MOA scopes may have reticles with mismatching vertical and horizontal graduations. In older scopes, the vertical graduations might be in 2 MOA increments, where the horizontal graduation might be in 5 MOA increments, or some combination thereof. Various riflescope manufacturers have since migrated to matching vertical and horizontal graduations. MOA scopes can have turrets that adjust in 1/2, 1/3, 1/4, and 1/8 MOA. Working a MOA scope with a reticle that has matching vertical and horizontal graduations, with a turret that adjusts in some weird fraction of a MOA, takes some getting used to. If you see that you’ve missed by 1.5 MOA to the right of the target, you have to dial 3 clicks left if your scope is adjusted in 1/2 MOA, or 5 clicks left if it adjusts in 1/3 MOA, and so on. It isn’t quite circle in a square hole, but it isn’t exactly intuitive.

The NF MIL-R reticle is a good example of a modern Mil reticle. Each large hashmark is 1 mil. There are half mil and 0.2 mil subtensions on both the vertical and horizontal crosshairs.

Mil scopes tend to have reticles with matching vertical and horizontal graduation measurements. Everything is one Mil, or tenths of a Mil. Most Mil reticles these days have graduations marked at half a Mil, two tenths of a mil, and one Mil. All Mil scope turrets bar a few exceptions, adjust in 1/10 Mil. Adjusting for missed shot is far simpler with a Mil scope than with a MOA scope. 1.5 MOA is equal to 0.436 Mil. Using the same example as above, to adjust 0.436 Mil left you simply dial 4 clicks. No mucking around with quarters or eighths or thirds, just straight up tenths. As we can see, Mil is a coarser adjustment than 1/4 and 1/8 MOA, so keep that in mind.

Because Mil scopes are based on tenths of a Mil, most people find Mil scopes are faster and more intuitive to use. MOA scopes on the other hand have a variety of possible combinations. In terms of absolute precision of turret adjustments, MOA scopes can be more precise than Mil scopes, hence the question of the level of precision required. So which is right for you? Ask yourself those four questions above, and you should have a pretty clear answer. For me, the deciding question is stress factors. If there will be some kind of stress involved in your shooting, apply Occam’s Razor and use a Mil scope.

Regardless of if you choose Mil or MOA, make sure you buy a scope with a matching reticle and turrets. A matching reticle and turrets makes everything much easier. If you see you’ve missed by x Mil/MOA, you can dial x Mil/MOA on your turrets. What you see is what you adjust for. There are few things more frustrating for a shooter than to have to convert splash seen on a Mil reticle, to MOA turret adjustments or vice versa, on the fly. All things being equal a MOA shooter will have to work with larger numbers and dial more clicks to achieve the same elevation or windage adjustment than a Mil shooter, assuming the MOA scope adjusts in 1/4 or 1/8 MOA. For example, a typical 308 match load will require between 9.5 to 11.5 Mil elevation for a 1000m target. That translates to 32.7 MOA to 39.5 MOA. A Mil shooter will dial between 95 and 115 clicks whereas a MOA shooter will dial between 261 and 316 clicks with a scope that adjusts in 1/8 MOA, or between 131 and 158 clicks with a scope that adjusts in 1/4 MOA. Does that make an appreciable difference in real life? Personally I think it does, but I’ll leave it up to you to decide.

Now, the final consideration to make, which can completely change your final decision: will you be shooting with a spotter, and what would work best for the team? Exploring the shooter/spotter dynamic is beyond the scope of this article, however, I will say this: If your spotter is very well versed in Mil and you’re sitting on the fence, get a Mil scope so you can communicate better with your spotter. The same goes for if your spotter is very well versed in MOA. Choose whichever system is most applicable to the team. I’ll post up a separate article about shooter/spotter dynamics, and why the choice between Mil and MOA is critically important for a shooting team.

So what can we take away from all this? Mil and MOA are angular measurements. Choosing between the two boils down to application rather than personal preference. Mil is the easier of the two to learn and apply under field conditions and under stress. What do I use? Mil. Most of my shooting is done in the field, under some kind of time stress. My targets are irregularly sized and at awkward ranges, and absolute precision is second to speed. Based on these criteria, and the fact that no Chairborne Ranger would ever be caught dead shooting MOA (because that’s so 1980s, man), I’m a Mil guy through and through.

Chairborne Ranger in the sky!

JC

Chapman et al., making headlines again…

The news networks are going nuts over a report published by Chapman, Alpers, and Jones, purporting that the study shows Australia’s 1997 NFA was an incredible success.

Here’s the actual publication, straight from the source:

Chapman, S., Apler, P., Jones, M., “Association Between Gun Law Reforms and Intentional Firearm Deaths in Australia, 1979-2013”, Journal of the American Medical Association, 2016, http://jama.jamanetwork.com/article.aspx?articleid=2530362, (accessed 24 June 2016).

This report has been making the rounds over the last 48 hours, of course, it’s been taken hilariously out of context. Even so, it has caused a fair amount of furore from the Australian firearms community. I’ve seen everything from well thought out responses, to full blown shit fights.

The paper itself isn’t actually as bad as it seems, despite the snippets taken wildly out of context by various news networks and University Facebook pages. Science Alert was the first place I saw mention of the report, followed by a short video posted on the Macquarie University Facebook page, both of which were in the process of being swarmed by angry fire ants. I mean firearms owners.

Why, media? Why?

Surprisingly, Chapman et al. actually wrote an unexpectedly balanced paper that has been taken way out of context by news networks looking for a quick and dirty piece of the sensationalist news.

The actual report is not as black and white as the news networks and social media make it out to be. Chapman et al. have done a better job at examining the data in this paper than in their previous papers. The data set used by Chapman et al. (ABS) is unbiased and so that leaves us with critiquing the interpretation of the data. Even there Chapman et al., did not fudge their interpretations. In fact, they made quite reasonable statements regarding the modelling of their data set.

Specifically, Chapman et al., recognised that there was no statistically significant decline in firearms homicides post 1997 compared to pre 1996, and that non-firearms suicides remained steadily declining post 1997 without accelerating. Contrary to their 2006 paper, Chapman et al., separated firearms homicide and firearms suicide so as not to lump them together under the catchall category of firearms deaths, which was a significant limitation in their previous studies. Third party analysis of their previous studies concluded that the data did not support the author’s conclusions about firearms homicides significantly declining post 1997. This time around, the raw data still doesn’t support the hypothesis that firearms homicides declined significantly post 1997. Go figure.

About the only thing the gun-control lobby can get out of this study is that the statistics say we haven’t had a mass shooting since 1996. Or have we? This silver lining is solely dependant on how you define a mass shooting. Chapman et al. have chosen to define a mass shooting as an incident where there are five or more deaths, not including the shooter. As there is no internationally accepted definition of what constitutes a mass shooting, Chapman et al. are free to define it however they want, which of course works in their favour. Cherry pick data and definitions to suit your agenda? Elementary, my dear Watson.

If there is anything we can take away from the study, it is this: it is not possible to determine whether the change in firearms deaths can be attributed to gun law reforms. Word for word, plucked straight out of the report itself.

Perhaps Chapman et al. are trying their best to become legitimate scholars? Who knows, maybe they’re taking a leaf out of Dr Samara McPhedran’s book.

Speaking of which, go check out Dr McPhedran’s excellent factsheets at www.ic-wish.org/fact_sheets.htm

Knowledge is power.

 

JC

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