The National Rifle Association continues to grow more unpopular. A new Quinnipiac University poll, conducted in the wake of the massacre of high school students in Parkland, Florida, found 51 percent of Americans believe the organization supports policies that are harmful to the country.
But the NRA can fairly claim that one of its actions—indeed, something it does every year—leads to a demonstratively positive result. According to new research, firearm injuries in the nation decrease by 20 percent during its annual conventions.
Anupam Jena of Harvard Medical School and Andrew Olenski of Columbia University analyzed more than 75 million medical insurance claims between 2007 and 2015—emergency-room visits and hospitalizations due to firearm-related injuries. They compared the number of such incidents that occurred during the NRA convention, compared with the same period of time three weeks before and three weeks afterwards.
They found that, during the convention—when as many as 80,000 gun owners were meeting and socializing rather than cleaning or firing their guns—the gun injury rate fell from 1.5 per 100,000 people to 1.25.
While they can't prove the convention directly caused this drop, they note in the New England Journal of Medicine that the biggest drops were among men in states with the highest rates of gun ownership, as well as among residents of the state hosting the convention.
"Fewer people using guns means fewer gun injuries, which in some ways is not surprising," Jena said in announcing the findings. "But the drop in gun injuries during these large meetings, attended by thousands of well-trained gun owners, seems to refute the idea that gun injuries stem solely from lack of experience and training in gun use."
This news is highly inconvenient to the NRA, which prefers to ignore studies about how guns in the home increase the risk of suicide as well as injury. Perhaps its new slogan should be: Guns don't injure people. Gun owners injure themselves.