Weak Tests and Strong Conclusions: A Re-Analysis of Gun Deaths and the Australian Firearms Buyback

24 Pages Posted: 5 Sep 2007

See all articles by Christine Neill

Christine Neill

Wilfrid Laurier University

Andrew Leigh

Australian House of Representatives Parliament House

Date Written: June 2007

Abstract

Using time series analysis on data from 1979-2004, Baker and McPhedran (2006) argue that the stricter gun laws introduced in the National Firearms Agreement (NFA) post-1996 did not affect firearm homicide rates, and may not have had an impact on the rate of gun suicide or accidental death by shooting. We revisit their analysis, and find that their results are not robust to: (a) using a longer time series; or (b) using the log of the rate rather than the level (to take account of the fact that the rate cannot fall below zero). We also show that claims that the authors had allowed both for method substitution and for underlying trends in suicide or homicide rates are misleading. The high variability in the data and the fragility of the results with respect to different specifications suggest that time series analysis cannot conclusively answer the question of whether the NFA led to lower gun deaths. Drawing strong conclusions from simple time series analysis is not warranted, but to the extent that this evidence points anywhere, it is towards the firearms buyback reducing gun deaths.

Keywords: firearms ownership, homicide, suicide

JEL Classification: I12, K14

Suggested Citation

Neill, Christine and Leigh, Andrew, Weak Tests and Strong Conclusions: A Re-Analysis of Gun Deaths and the Australian Firearms Buyback (June 2007). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1011519 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.1011519

Christine Neill

Wilfrid Laurier University ( email )

Waterloo, Ontario N2L 3C5
Canada

Andrew Leigh (Contact Author)

Australian House of Representatives Parliament House

Canberra, 2600
Australia

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