QOTD: The Quarrel over Statistics Debuts

Coroner’s Clerk Lebrun, who played a major role in the drafting of the Sullivan Law, pointed out that the number of suicides by firearms had dropped 40% over the previous year. He credited the new law with this decline. Lebrun did not comment on the number of homicides by firearms, but opponents of the Sullivan Law were quick to do so. In the last pre-Sullivan law year, 1910, there had been 108 such homicides; in 1912 there were 113. The quarrel over statistics made its debut as part of the firearms controversy.

— Lee Kennett and Jules LaVerne Anderson, The Gun in America (1975), p. 185, emphasis added

12 thoughts on “QOTD: The Quarrel over Statistics Debuts

    • This is a good point. Peer review is not formally absent in these processes, though I find the medical/public health peer review less rigorous than in sociology. And I don’t expect peer review to be perfect in any case. But it can be better. As I have written before drawing on Jonathan Haidt, peer review really only works well if you have people looking at an issue from different angles.

      Liked by 1 person

    • I believe the Sullivan Law covers the entire state (was passed by the state legislature and signed by the governor), though I can imagine discretionary aspects of it are administered differently in NYC vs elsewhere in NY. NYC may also have additional laws on top of the Sullivan Law – I cannot say for sure.


      • I’ll be doggone. I haven’t read much about the Sullivan Law any time recently. (It’s something how a person’s memory can distort things.) I’ll have to research it. Thanks!


    • The Sullivan Act (1911??) applies statewide as David says. In addition, NYS does not have a preemption clause and further, each county implements the Sullivan Act (unless that recently changed). For example, I got my pistol permit in Monroe County and the government agency authorizing it was the Monroe Co Sheriff but the permit was recognized in all counties except the five boroughs of NY. New York City has always been toughest and in addition to regulating handguns, has long regulated long guns.

      The SAFE Act recently passed and signed by Cuomo is also statewide but has a different focus than the Sullivan Act, which acts independently of SAFE.


    • Your comment about a moat is on point. I always thought having a nationally standardized gun permit system, i.e., national reciprocity with national screening protocols, would make more sense but then you would have to get NY, NJ, and CA et al to agree with KS, TX, and ND et al. Good luck with that. They would all rather fight to the bitter end than compromise.


  1. I’m beginning to think the peer review process needs to begin much earlier in the cycle of publication. Right now, it looks to me like many researchers never had to get their experimental designs past a skeptical thesis committee before executing them.

    When I was in graduate school (clinical psychology), for her mid-term exams, one of my professors would go to the published, peer-reviewed literature, pull out half a dozen studies and tell the class to pick three and explain what they did wrong. She did that for years and never ran out of bad research.

    It’s also my cynical impression that even the most prestigious journals will publish just about anything that agrees with their editorial agenda.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.