Thursday, February 10, 2005

Crunch the numbers

Safe Gun Storage Saves Kids' Lives

Well lets take a look at this study.

Grossman's team interviewed 82 families with a child who used a household gun to attempt suicide (95 percent of which were successful) and 24 families with a child unintentionally shot with a household gun (52 percent fatal).

They compared them to 480 families that owned one or more guns but did not experience a child suicide or accidental shooting.

That would be the suicide rate for the study was total was about 14 percent. The actual suicide rate for America is "10.6 out of every 100,000 persons" for the general population and in 2000,"suicide was the third leading cause of death among 15- to 24-year-olds—10.4 of every 100,000 persons in this age group". That is the first problem with the study, the population samples are way off the national average.

The fox story gives very little information on the study. So i had to find the original myself. Here is the abstract. Well the actual abstract had a few minor differences.

"Results We interviewed 106 respondents with case firearms and 480 with control firearms. Of the shootings associated with the case firearms, 81 were suicide attempts (95% fatal) and 25 were unintentional injuries (52% fatal). After adjustment for potentially confounding variables, guns from case households were less likely to be stored unloaded than control guns (odds ratio [OR], 0.30; 95% confidence interval [CI], 0.16-0.56). Similarly, case guns were less likely to be stored locked (OR, 0.27; 95% CI, 0.17-0.45), stored separately from ammunition (OR, 0.45; 95% CI, 0.34-0.93), or to have ammunition that was locked (OR, 0.39; 95% CI, 0.23-0.66) than were control guns. These findings were consistent for both handguns and long guns and were also similar for both suicide attempts and unintentional injuries. "

This study studies suicides with guns and houses without suicides with guns then it states that if you lock you guns that you will "reduce these types of injuries".

One problem I have with this study is that it lumps suicides with unintentional injuries. I would prefer that they keep the data separate. I think it is important to note that they did not do that. Suicide and unintentional injury are two different beasts and need to be studied as such.

In this study all of the suicides were with guns, which in the real world we know that is not true. This omission makes the difference between two study groups greater. I personally think that it would be impossible to control for this difference, partly because this difference is crucial to the study. Actually, it was what they were studying. I think this study would have been more accurate if their suicide sample represented the average amount different suicide methods were used and their control sample was larger.

If i was going to study guns and suicide i would get a good sample of families that had a suicide death of a child in the home. They used "incident[s] in which a child or adolescent younger than 20 years gained access to a firearm". 20 years old seems a little old for a child, but i guess these guys know more than me. Then i would break those to sample groups into which locked or stored their guns safely and those that did not. This would allow you to find the suicide rate with guns for both of the groups. It seems like that number would be a little bit more accurate than comparing the group that had suicides against the group that did not.

This study almost makes it seem like that you can lock up you gun and it will magically save you child from suicide. That seems a little silly to me. I would believe that if it was for unintentional injuries, but it is for both sets of data.

This study was better than most, but it still seems incomplete to me at best.



Anonymous said...

Guns. Let's say I have more than one. I've got mine in a vault in my bedroom closet. I got it when I had kids and still have them in it. Gives a bit of security if someone breaks in and I keep the dial with the first two numbers set and just a few away from the last. Then its just spin it to open. Takes about 3 seconds.

I'm not sure about the 20 year upper limit they use. My kids are 15 and 17 and both have been taught the combination.

Cubicle said...

yea that is kinda the problem with the study. By the time the kid is a teenager if they want a kill theirsevles they stand a good chance of acheiving their goal.

This study is just a small part of a large case that is trying to be built against guns or establishing "smart" gun rules. Of course when those rules involve locking up your guns, you can be charged if the police find out they are not locked up properly.

Of course the only way they are going to find that out is if they seach you place or someone dies in you place. even if you shooting is justified, you could still be charged.